In a March inspection, missile launch crews at Minot scored the equivalent of a “D’’ grade on missile operations. In June the Minot officer in charge of training and proficiency of missile crews was fired.
Throughout this period the Air Force and top Pentagon officials have insisted that the nuclear force is safe and secure. But the competence of its management has been questioned.
Documents obtained by the AP show that at lower levels the force is beset with morale problems and incidents of indiscipline.
The U.S. has been shrinking the size of its nuclear arsenal for many years; it is comprised of long-range missiles aboard submarines, long-range bombers and ICBMs. As of Oct. 1 the U.S. had 1,688 deployed strategic nuclear warheads, which Washington is obliged to reduce to 1,550 by 2018 under the New START treaty with Russia.