Saturday, December 13, 2008

Merry Christmas. We're All Going to Die.

Blasted back to the Stone Age, it would seem, by our own Air Force and its incompetent handling of nuclear materials.  As Wired's Danger Room reminds us:

Last fall, the 5th Bomb Wing lost track of six nuclear warheads. Then, in March, the service discovered that it had inadvertently shipped four Minuteman nuclear warhead nosecone fuses to Taiwan, thinking they were helicopter batteries. By June, Defense Secretary Robert Gates had sacked the top civilian and military leaders of the Air Force. A total of 15 officers (including six generals) were disciplined, over the mishaps.

Then came this news:

In May, the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot Air Force Base flunked its [Nuclear Surety Inspection, or NSI] test, when security personnel couldn't be bothered to stop playing videogames on their cellphones. Six months later, Malmstrom Air Force Base's the 341st Missile Wing, had problems with its weapons storage area and its personnel reliability program, which prevented the unit from passing its exam.

And now this:

The 90th Missile Wing, operating out of F.E. Warren Air Force Base, is still in the midst of its ... NSI. But already, the wing has failed the test of its readiness to handle atomic arms, a source close to the test tells Danger Room. Problems with the "personal reliability program," which ensures that only the most highly-qualified, highly-trained individuals are working anywhere near a nuclear arsenal, doomed the wing's chances.

If it were the CIA screwing up its most basic functions, legislators -- most of them Republican Senators in 2004 -- would be calling to disband it completely, and switch its functions to some other agency. Sadly, the agency they would probably call upon is the military, which creates a sort of conundrum here.  When the military is the only part of the government that you like, and one branch of that military continues to screw up on a massive scale, what do you do?

So who's going to be the first one to say it?  We need to re-create the Army Air Corps.

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