The Air Force announced this afternoon that 37 nuclear missile officers have been implicated in academic cheating scandals and drug rings, and the ongoing investigation may turn up more misdeeds soon.
So far, 11 Air Force on six different bases have been implicated in the drug ring. Three of them are missile launch officers at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota and Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana, according to the Washington Post. Those are two of the three U.S. bases that house America's 450 intercontinental ballistic missiles.
In addition, nearly 20 percent of all the launch officers in charge of ICBMs at Malmstrom cheated or allowed cheating on a job-related certification test, the investigation showed. An estimated 200 officers have had their certifications yanked and will be forced to retake the exam, though it isn't clear how many officers might lose their jobs.
The Air Force insists that the integrity of its nuclear arsenal has not been compromised, though the service's chief of staff, Gen. Mark Welsh III, told reporters that Malmstrom had failed an August nuclear readiness test, according to Military.com editor Michael Hoffman. (The base later passed another nuke test in October.)
The revelations come just weeks after the top general in charge of all U.S.-based nuclear missiles was fired for going on a drunken bender and carousing with foreign women on a mission to Russia. The Air Force has had to push back against that incident, and additional reports that its nuclear missileers are burned out, cynical, and suffering historically low levels of morale.
As one member of the elite community, with its capacity to annihilate civilizations, put it to the AP: "We don't care if things go properly. We just don't want to get in trouble."
[Photo: Slim Pickens rides the nuclear pony to global perdition in Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.]