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Two missileers from the 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., have been implicated in a narcotics investigation, the Air Force confirmed Thursday.
Air Force spokesman Lt. Col. Allen Herritage said the Air Force Office of Special Investigations is investigating the airmen for illegal drug possession. The Air Force has suspended their access to classified information.
The incident is the latest in a string of embarrassments for the Air Force’s nuclear missile force. Last month, the Air Force released findings of an inspector general investigation that said the former commander of 20th Air Force in charge of the nation’s nuclear missiles, Maj. Gen. Michael Carey, was removed from command after a series of drunken incidents while leading a delegation in Russia.
Last summer, the commander of the 341st Security Forces Group at Malmstrom, Col. David Lynch, was relieved of command when leaders cited a loss of confidence in his ability to lead the group.
RAND Corp. last fall released the findings of an Air Force-commissioned study that found deep morale issues in the nuclear missile force, including burnout and a court-martial rate among the missile force in 2011 and 2012 that was more than twice as high as the overall Air Force rate. Air Force officials said the missile force rates were down in 2013.
Thursday’s announcement comes as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is one a three-state tour, including a visit with nuclear missile officers at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo.
Hagel told reporters Wednesday that he worries about morale among the missileers.
“It is lonely work,” Hagel said during a stop at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M. “I think they do feel underappreciated many times. They are stuck out in the areas where not a lot of attention is paid and I know they wonder more than occasionally if anyone is paying attention.