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WASHINGTON — Six Air Force generals, ranging in rank from one to three stars, were punished Thursday for the mistaken shipment of fuses for nuclear warheads to Taiwan in 2006.

The Army also issued memorandums of concern for two brigadier generals for their involvement in the incident.

Defense officials said Wednesday that none of the high-ranking officers will lose their jobs, but all were given disciplinary letters which can be used to deny future promotions.

"The very nature of our mission demands adherence to the highest standards," said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz, noting that service officials struggled with the decision whether to fire or simply discipline the generals.

"These officers are good people with otherwise distinguished careers. They are not accused of intentional wrongdoing. But they did not do enough to carry our responsibilities for nuclear oversight."

The officers are mainly in logistical jobs and were involved in the mistaken shipment to Taiwan of four electrical fuses for ballistic missile nuclear warheads in 2006. The error did not come to light until this past March.

Three of the generals disciplined Thursday have requested retirement, Schwartz said. The others will remain in leadership roles, although not necessarily the same posts.

Acting Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley said those three generals will play an important role in "charting a path forward for the service," although he said they have been warned that future mistakes will be judged harshly.

In addition, nine Air Force colonels also received letters of varying seriousness for their actions. Air Force officials would not release their names, but said two have retired from the service and all but one of the other seven have been reassigned.

Along with the potential career advancement penalties, officials said, the letters put in the officers files can result retirement at a lower grade, and lower retirement pay as a result.

In early June, Defense Secretary Robert Gates sacked Gen. Michael Moseley, then Air Force chief of staff, and Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne, blaming them for failing to fully address several nuclear-related missteps, including the mistaken shipment.

Pentagon reviews of the shipping incident revealed that the fuses were sent to Taiwan rather than the helicopter batteries that had been ordered.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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