Air Force Questions AP Reporting on Nuke Problems

Air Force Questions AP Reporting on Nuke Problems

The Air Force took aim at the Associated Press and its senior Pentagon reporter Robert Burns in an editorial that ran Tuesday in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle entitled “Nuke forces aren’t as bad as reporter said.” The editorial was  written by lead Air Force spokesman Brig. Gen. Les Kodlick  in response to an article Burns wrote Nov. 21 about problems within the nuclear career field.

Burns wrote about high courts-martial rates and increased numbers of administrative punishments within the nuclear field to include missileers in 2010 and 2011 citing a RAND report that was ordered by the Air Force. Burns reported that RAND researchers also found a high level of “burnout” within the nuclear force, which RAND defined as “feeling exhausted, cynical and ineffective on the job.”

The Associated Press report followed a series of stories that Burns wrote throughout the year that found problems throughout the Air Force’s nuclear enterprise to include a failed safety and security inspection. In October, Maj. Gen. Michael Carey, the commander of the 20th Air Force, the Numbered Air Force in charge of the Air Force’s intercontinental ballistic missile force, was fired for “personal misbehavior.”


Kodlick, the director of public affairs for the Air Force, focused his editorial on Burns’ Nov. 21 article saying that Burns left out key pieces of information and context in regards to the RAND study that was provided to the Associated Press. The Air Force issued the editorial solely to the Wyoming Tribune Eagle because it is the hometown newspaper for the 20th Air Force, said Lt. Col. John Sheets, a spokesman for Air Force Global Strike Command.

When contacted for comment about the Air Force’s editorial, Burns said: “I stand by the story in every detail.”

Kodlick leads his editorial by calling into question the Associated Press reporter’s credibility saying Burns “grossly exaggerated and distorted challenges affecting the Air Force’s nuclear force.”

“The premise of the article, the reporter’s assertion that Air Force nuclear troops are caught in an ongoing, downward spiral of morale, misconduct and misbehavior, is at best misleading and at worst willfully ignorant of data provided prior to publication,” Kodlick wrote.

Kodlick then questioned the usefulness of the study completed by RAND because it surveyed only 100 people out of a force of 10,000 over a three month period. Burns obtained a draft version of the report that has not been released publicly. Sheets said he did not know if the report would be released.

Burns highlighted a troubling spike in spousal abuse incidents in the Air Force nuclear community in 2010 when the 20th Air Force hit a peak of 21 per 1,000 people. The average Air Force rate for that year was 10.3 per 1,000 people. The AP’s story pointed out that the rate had dropped to 12.4 by 2012.

Burns’ article also cited spikes in courts-martial rates and administrative punishments within the ICBM force. “Courts-martial in the ICBM force, for example, were 129 percent higher than in the Air Force as a whole in 2011, on a per capita basis, and 145 percent higher in 2012,” Burns wrote.

Kodlick wrote in his editorial that spousal abuse rates and misconduct have declined since 2010. He questioned why Burns did not choose to emphasize that higher in his article.

“Mr. Burns includes an ever-so-brief mention of the misconduct trends in the 26th paragraph of the story, but he never actually says the rates are lower. Instead, he writes: “Administrative punishments are trending downward,” Kodlick wrote.

The director of Air Force public affairs said Burns was provided with additional context and information to the RAND study to include results from unit climate assessments and the Air Force Cultural Assessment Survey Tool. Kodlick questioned in his editorial why Burns chose not to use this information.

The Air Force provided the slides to Military​.com of the presentation that Burns received by Lt. Gen. James Kowalski, the former commander of Global Strike Command. Data on the slides show slight gains from 2010 to 2012 in morale, according to the unit climate assessments and the survey tool that reached out to thousands of nuclear airmen.

Military​.com asked Burns why he chose not to include this information. He responded saying:

“I did not use the AFCAST and Unit Climate Assessment materials because RAND told me it does not consider them comparable to its work, which was focused only on those officers and airmen who work in the missile fields as opposed to the wider population of wing personnel in the Air Force’s assessments. Also, the RAND approach was different, including the use of focus group discussions,” Burns said in an email to Military​.com.

Morale within the Air Force nuclear career field is a problem that the Air Force has wrestled with since the end of the Cold War. Many of the officers in the nuclear career field have said it is difficult spending long shifts inside a missile silo in a North Dakota or Wyoming field with little to no expectation they will ever have to push the launch button.

The erosion within the Air Force’s nuclear community was highlighted in 2007 when a B-52 flew from Minot Air Force Base, N.D., to Barksdale Air Force Base, La., with six nuclear warheads mistakenly loaded on the wings. A year later Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley were fired by former Defense Secretary Robert Gates for problems within the service’s nuclear enterprise.

Kodlick was unavailable for comment Wednesday for this article, according to the Air Force public affairs office in the Pentagon.

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Michael, did you ever hear of proofreading your work before you publish it? Seriously…

Unfortunately the job of sitting in a hole in the middle of a corn field for 12 hours a day, attracts the caliber of recruits other countries do medical experiments on.

Burns needs a reality check… he is looking for a trophy at the military expense… What an Idiot…

sorry to hear that Middle field guy-most of the military’s leadership sucks big time

Whenever there is failure in an organization it’s usually preceded by a poor corporate/organization culture

The corporate/organizational culture is a direct reflection of the leadership and once a toxic culture is allowed to develop then its too late. Radical change is needed, kind of like cutting off a gangrene leg to save the body, but the air force won’t cut off the bad leg to save itself. It will continue to ignore the problems and or blame others until its too late. They are incapable of fixing their own problems.

The only thing that will fix the problem the Air Force has with “nuke management” is to take that mission away from them.

This makes me laugh, I love how missilers complain about spending a day out there, Security forces stay 4–5 days there with “3 days off” and 2 training days on base before going back out. We work 6–7 day’s straight, get harrased by teams who only report negative things and never give credit for positive things. I’ve been in the field for nearly four years, excelled above my peers and never been recognized because instead of “drinking the kool-aid” I stand up against senior leadership when they are wrong and try to place blame on us. Morale for the SF is very low, I witness it daily in my troops. The AF is downplaying the truth to prevent the public from casting doubt on our nuclear force. I like my job, I hate how poor leadership is, they only work for themselves (with the exception of a few) to achieve their next promotion. That is not how leaders are supposed to act. Atleast the cavemen are on a controlled tour, I’m here indefinitely, and it’s not because I haven’t tried to leave. Trust me I have.

To balance it we need to hear from the leadership on just how badly the average middle field guy sucks.

Bring back Strategic Air Command.

Oh wait, that would involve money.

Do you really think the Army, Navy, or Marines could do the job better? Don’t think so!

I have a problem with this comment. To suggest that someone is a moron for being in this position is dead wrong. First, there are still some folks out there that realize the importance of the task at hand and are looking at the silver lining regarding this career field. Personnel in this field are eligible to earn a masters degree free of charge apart from the GI Bill, the nuke force remains one of the few fields where someone who doesn’t pass a flight physical still has a shot at generals stars. Secondly, there are still several major agencies and companies that continue to recruit out of SPACECOM. NASA and Ball Aerospace come immediately to mind.
Finally, apart from any of the above, many personnel in the this field, both officer and enlisted are placed into nukes against their will, simply because manning shortfalls dictate the necessity. I am sure this breeds low morale or resentment, but what is not reported is that these assignments are generally short term and last less than five years. That is only five years out of a 20–30 year career. We all get assignments we don’t like. Salute, do your best, and drive on.

I have problem with this comment too…First off, it’s a 24+ hour duty. So you obviously have no clue about launch officer duty. Second, the duty is zero defect. The citizens of the United States they protect deserve and expect it. Third, the people they recruit are some of the best the USAF have. A lot of them would be pilots except they don’t have perfect eyesight. Fourth, the missiles are on alert 24 hour a day, 365 days a year. So there is little room for error. It does make national news when an error occurs. Fifth and finally, I sat alert for 3 1/2 years in the Minuteman II system and 1 1/2 years in he Ground Launched Cruise Missile system. I had a successful USAF career and still support the USAF as a defense contractor. So I know what I’m talking about and you don’t.

Global Stike Command is the old SAC lite. Back in the old days SAC was run by people who spent their whole career in SAC. When they move SAC to ACC I bet fighter jocks were in command of those bombers. They lost a lot of the SAC managment of special weapons so it will take a little while to get GSC back to SAC readiness as long as they keep the fight jocks out of CSC

Code 88.…Send me anywhere but here… thats what I had to do. And you know what the funny thing is? After 3 years away from Minot, I was sent right back. I worked both sides flightline and the missile field and I would have to say I preferred the field.

As a former Flight Commander in the years of SAC, I can say, bull! We were damn good and we sat for 24 not 12. Sometimes up to 72 in blizzard season. All officers, some chaff, most of were not the usual history degree yahoo.

BINGO!!!!! I was in at the change to ACC and fighter jocks moved right in! Many did not even understand Nuclear Surety or the concept of PRP beyond that of flight status. Positive control became a joke. As a member of the 57 Air Div we saw the complete loss of command structure that involved missileers. If it was careen enhancing, a pilot did it. Just ask them, they can do anything. So what they never took a codes or EWO test in their lives.

I’m deeply proud and feel very fortunate to have worked in Missile field. First I would like to explain that anyone who has had to work around the Minute-men when I served would tell you that it was a tough duty. And SAC was at that time the toughest Command to be in. There is no room for error nor is any tolerated. The level of discipline and training was a satisfying achievement that I will always be grateful for. I’m sorry so many feel so apathetic towards anyone that has worked the missile field its just a simple lack of understanding, you see in my case F.E. Warren was my last choice of five when leaving training so you just go do your duty for your country and make the best of it. I know many officers and commanders that had a hard go of it, but still did there job never knowing when the breaking of the seals and the turning of the keys might be the one. Being topside on missile sites is no picnic either, there was at that time weeks of on the job working before getting anytime off to go back to the base. I can’t tell you all the times I wished I was at home with the family, but the rewards of discipline paid off and I feel I’m a better man because of the United States Air Force

The military guards nuclear maintenance errors VERY closely, to the extent that TWO nuclear incidents I was involved in many years ago (http://​www​.rvpv​.org/​n​u​c​-​w​p​n​s​-​a​c​c​i​d​e​n​ts/) had FOIA requests returned with “no record.” If that’s the case, then I must not exist, either, and the island of Puerto Rico and its current financial problems don’t exist, either, because it was vaporized with a Mk 39 back in the early ‘60s..

You know, this is an ALL VOLUNTEER force and people are kicking down the doors to get in, so do your best or don’t join! 95% of the PATRIOTS I served with for 4 years in Malmstrom did a phenomenal job and cared. There is some rot in the ranks as Lt Col Folds mentioned earlier this year when missileers were decertified for their performance, but those are who we need to weed out. It is a zero error job and too bad it’s not the Bahamas, but it was the best assignment I had in over 20 years of service as an Army grunt and AF officer… and I contend its one of the most important!

I spent 4 years as a Minuteman Missile Launch Officer at Whiteman AFB, MO from 1968 to 1972 and I volunteered for the duty mainly because I could get an MBA degree from the University of Missouri at Columbia. I also spent 21/2 years as the AFIT Detachment Commander (Air Force agency that monitored the degree programs at the 6 missile locations) at Minot AFB, ND. It was SAC at the time and careers were made in the missile field if one wanted to stay in that area. When they started cutting the number of missile bases and assigned the field to Space Command and then to Global Strike Command, I am sure things got worse for career progression. The missile career field will never be the same as it was under SAC and General Curtis Lemay!

My response to “oblatt2” was going to going to be as nasty as his comments, but I held off. I was in the Air Force for 22 years as a Law Enforcement Specialist in the Security Police career field. In law enforcement I was not in the Missile Field on a regular basis however I was out there enough to get know the people on those Missile Sites. To a person they all were great. They knew there jobs and no matter their different positions and ranks they worked together and got along really well. Of course like any big organization they had there “knuckle– head” but they did not last long. As someone that knows what their talking about, things are just fine at these Missile bases.

A concerned citizen noticed a pattern of covert information being used in the media for nefarious purposes including insider trading and terrorist attacks. The citizen noted on newrepublic in 2006 alarming references that appeared to indicate nuclear missiles to be illegally transported on planes. The citizen alerted the JCS and others about this two years before the Minot-Barksdale incident occurred. The citizen and their children were then targeted in classic D4 fashion, tortured and terrorized in ways that would make Hitler or Stalin look like saints. Use of Directed Energy Weaponry. In addition, if you think the movie “Hunger Games” is based on pure fantasy, think again. From inthetimes​.com article 12451 freedom in the cloud, states True, the United States doesn’t treat prisoners as brutally as China or Russia—because of their technological priority, they simply do not need the openly brutal approach (which they are more than ready to apply when it is needed)—the invisible digital control can do well enough.

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