Six Airmen discharged for failing nuclear safety inspection

Airmen from the 5th Bomb Wing prepare to begin the Load Crew Competition of the Year at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, Jan. 12, 2023. The competition is scored with both crews starting with 1000 points and points are deducted for any discrepancies found during the 36-2903 inspection, composite tool kit inspection and 15 question written test. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Zachary Wright)

Brian Niemietz
New York Daily News

The U.S. Air Force reportedly discharged two commanders and four of their subordinates following a safety and security inspection regarding nuclear weapon stockpiles.

The service members were assigned to North Dakota’s Minot Air Force Base as part of the 8th Air Force. Their dismissals were the consequence of a pass/fail test, the results of which are classified, CNN said Wednesday.

The news channel’s sources said the issue regarded “non-compliance vehicle and equipment safety inspections.” There’s no evidence the alleged shortcomings involved the actual handling of nuclear weapons.

8th Air Force commander Maj. Gen. Andrew J. Gebara announced the dismals in a statement published Monday, which cited “loss of confidence” in the service members’ ability to complete their assigned duties.

“These personnel actions were necessary to maintain the very high standards we demand of those units entrusted with supporting our nation’s nuclear mission,” he stated.

According to military website Task & Purpose, Col. Gregory C. Mayer, commander of the 5th Mission Support Group, and Maj. Jonathan Welch, commander of the 5th Logistics Readiness Squadron, were relieved of their duties. The names of the four subordinates were not released.

Concerns about nuclear weapon security arose last month when a Chinese balloon equipped with surveillance equipment floated over military installations in Montana. U.S. fighter jets shot it down once it reached the Atlantic Ocean. The Chinese government claimed the balloon was a meteorological tool.

The Federation of American Scientists report the U.S. stockpile of 5,428 nuclear warheads is second only to Russia’s collection of nearly 6,000 nukes. China is a distance third in the arms race, with 350 warheads.

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