Rockets high: US Air Force investigating drug use by guards at missile base

A Minuteman III ICBM of the 90th Missile Wing at the F.E. Warren AFB in Wyoming © wikipedia.org
The US Air Force is investigating 14 airmen for illegal drug use, possibly including cocaine. Most of them were assigned to the security detail of the unit responsible for one-third of all US intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

“Over a dozen” airmen, “mainly or entirely” members of the security force at the 90th Missile Wing, were suspended on Friday, unnamed Pentagon officials told AP. All are junior enlisted personnel.

“It came to light because one airman who had suspicion of drug activity by another reported that to his chain of command,” General Robin Rand, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, said Friday.

The 90th is based at Francis E. Warren Air Force Base just outside Cheyenne, Wyoming. It is one of the three remaining missile wings of the Air Force’s Global Strike Command, operating Minuteman III ICBMs.

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The security force’s job is to protect the missile silos from unauthorized access. Just last month, Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work visited the base and observed a demonstration of how security would deal with a scenario in which armed intruders captured a missile silo.

The Air Force has previously investigated a number of “missileers” – officers in charge of actually launching the missiles should the order for global thermonuclear war be given – at Warren for drug use, as part of a push by then-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to address “personnel failures” within the force.

That probe led to the discovery that a number of missileers of the 341st Missile Wing had cheated on their proficiency tests at Malmstrom AFB in Montana, another Minuteman III facility. In the end, 79 officers were disciplined, and 15 of them were discharged from the military, according to the Air Force Times.