Sunday, September 21, 2008

Generals face discipline over nuclear woes

Generals face discipline over nuclear woes
By Michael Hoffman - Staff writer Air Force Times
Posted : Friday Sep 19, 2008 15:49:26 EDT
Several Air Force generals and colonels will be disciplined next week for mistakes made handling nuclear weapons and nuclear-related materials over the past year, said congressional and Air Force sources.

One congressional aide said to expect the announcement on Tuesday.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates ordered Navy Adm. Kirkland H. Donald, director of naval nuclear propulsion, to investigate the Air Force’s nuclear mission after it was discovered in March that sensitive ballistic missile components were wrongly shipped to Taiwan in 2006 and airmen mistakenly flew six nuclear tipped cruise missiles on a B-52 across the country in August 2007.

Donald’s report includes recommended disciplinary actions for top Air Force leaders in the nuclear business. The punishments will be handed out next week based on these recommendations, according to Air Force sources.

The chapter that contained the disciplinary recommendations was not initially released to Congress. In fact, congressional members threatened to hold up the confirmation of Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz until they received it.

Air Force leaders plan to announce these punishments a week after the service held its Nuclear Summit that was attended by defense department and other agency partners.

It also comes after the Task Force on Nuclear Weapons Management headed by former Defense Secretary James Schlesinger released their report which ripped the Air Force’s ability to handle nuclear weapons and recommended sweeping changes to halt the erosion of the service’s nuclear enterprise.

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