USAF Secretary Visits Minot Air Force Base - KFYRTV.COM - Bismarck, ND - News, Weather, Sports

USAF Secretary Visits Minot Air Force Base

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The Secretary of the United States Air Force made a stop at Minot Air Force Base Wednesday.  KMOT's Amy Fox has more on her visit.

 Deborah Lee James, the top civilian in the Air Force, has only been on the job for a month.  And, she's already making stops at Air Force Bases across the country, after media headlines have once again brought negative attention to the Air Force.

 James says, "I will admit, I didn't expect to be here today quite this early on."

 Last week, James revealed that 34 U.S. Nuclear missile launch officers at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana were involved in a cheating scandal.  Investigators became aware of officers cheating on monthly proficiency tests because of another ongoing investigation, involving 11 junior officers using illegal recreational drugs.

"I certainly wish this didn't happen, but it did happen," says James.  "And, it's a problem.  If it's a problem, if it happened, it's a problem.  It's an opportunity to also make things better."

 While there are no cheating or drug issues at the Minot Air Force Base, the Air Force Secretary is still making stops at all of the Global Strike Commands.

 "I thought it was important that I get on the road quickly that I go out and I see for myself some of what is going on with our nuclear forces," says James.

 The recent incident in Montana is only one example of the many mishaps the Air Force has had in the last year.

 In April, 17 airmen at Minot Air Force Base were suspended and had to be retrained after earning a marginal rating in the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Operations category during a routine inspection.

 James says, "I remain very confident in the nuclear mission.  And, although this was a failure in terms of integrity of some of our people, we are going to get to the bottom of this.  We will hold people accountable."

While at Minot Air Force Base, James met with base leaders and focus groups from the 5th Bomb Wing and the 91st Missile Wing, learning how airmen carry out the mission.

 "I'm going to be looking for concrete actions possibly in the area of morale [and] possibly in the area of training, ways to make this better," says James.

During the next several weeks, James will continue to visit Global Strike Commands to conduct a close review of operations and a persistent oversight of how airmen are safeguarding and maintaining weapons to improve the current situation.

 "This may be my first visit, but it won't be my last," says James.  "I will be back and do my best to keep on top of this and make improvements."

 James will visit the Global Strike Command Headquarters in Barksdale, Louisiana next.  The investigation at Malmstrom Air Force Base is ongoing.  We will have more information once it becomes available. 

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