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Air Force personnel at US nuclear missile base suspected of drug activity

WASHINGTON – Fourteen United States airmen have been removed from duty at a Wyoming nuclear missile facility under suspicion they were involved in illegal drug activity, an Air Force general said Friday.

An investigation was launched Tuesday at F.E. Warren Air Force Base into the alleged activity of the airmen, all security force personnel ranging in rank from airman to senior airman, after it was reported by another member of their unit, said Air Force Gen. Robin Rand, the commander of Air Force Global Strike Command.

Rand called the allegations “credible,” but he declined to detail what the activity might have involved.

“We will wait for the investigation to be complete before I will comment on the specifics,” he said.

The suspected activity occurred while the airmen were off duty, the general said. He declined to say Friday whether it occurred on the base.

Warren AFB is home to the 90th Missile Wing that operates about 150 Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile systems, capable of carrying nuclear warheads. Rand said the alleged activity had no “operational impact” on the base’s mission.

Air Force security force personnel are responsible for base law enforcement and security and protection of the missile field. Those implicated in the investigation, which is being conducted by the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, are a tiny fraction of the security forces at Warren, Rand said.

There are about 1,300 airmen, including about 1,000 junior enlisted, assigned to the 90th Security Forces Group, the general said.

U.S. military personnel are regularly screened for illegal drugs. None of the suspected airmen had recently failed a drug test, and Rand said Friday he did not plan to order command-wide drug screenings.

The new investigation follows other personnel issues the Air Force has faced in recent years. In 2014, nine officers at another nuclear base, Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., were fired after investigators uncovered dozens of missile launch officers had cheated on their proficiency exams.

The cheating was uncovered as the Air Force probed suspected drug activity among several Air Force officers at several bases including Warren and Malmstrom.

Rand said Friday that the drug activity investigation is in no way connected to the previous scandals.

dickstein.corey@stripes.com
Twitter: @CDicksteinDC
 

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