Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Six flew over the breadbasket

[Update: WaPo has more]

I'm not sure what to think about this. But on the other hand, I'm relieved that with the Air Force standing down on 14 September, the likelihood of attacking Iran during Ramadan just went down significantly.

Frankly, with these nutcases in charge, I will take anything I can get that slows down the rush-to-war.

WASHINGTON, Sept. 5, 2007
A U.S. Air Force B-52 bomber. (AP)


"There is no more serious issue than the security and proper handling of nuclear weapons."

Rep. Ike Skelton, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee

(AP) A B-52 bomber was mistakenly armed with six nuclear warheads and flown for more than three hours across several states last week, prompting an Air Force investigation and the firing of one commander, Pentagon officials said Wednesday.

Rep. Ike Skelton, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, called the mishandling of the weapons "deeply disturbing" and said the committee would press the military for details.

The plane was carrying Advanced Cruise Missiles from Minot Air Force Base, N.D, to Barksdale Air Force Base, La., on Aug. 30, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of a Defense Department policy not to confirm information on nuclear weapons.

The missiles, which are being decommissioned, were mounted onto pylons on the bomber's wings and it is unclear why the warheads had not been removed beforehand.

The Air Combat Command has ordered a command-wide stand down on Sept. 14 to review procedures, officials said. They said there was minimal risk to crews and the public because of safety features designed into the munitions.

In addition to the munitions squadron commander who was relieved of his duties, crews involved with the mistaken load — including ground crew workers — have been temporarily decertified for handling munitions, one official said.

The investigation is expected to take several weeks.

The incident was first reported in Military Times newspaper.

"There is no more serious issue than the security and proper handling of nuclear weapons," Skelton said in a statement Wednesday. "The American people, our friends, and our potential adversaries must be confident that the highest standards are in place when it comes to our nuclear arsenal."

Skelton, D-Mo., said his committee will pursue answers on the classified matter "to ensure that the Air Force and the Department of Defense address this particular incident and strengthen controls more generally."
Now I know that I was never in any danger, even when they were right over my head. It's the mere idea that six nukes could be lost track of for three nanoseconds - let alone three hours. We were never in danger from the weapons, but we are constantly in danger from an inept command structure. And if anyone asked me, I would tell them that this is just the first such incident we are going to hear about. This is the kind of fuck-up that happens when the freakin' military is stretched to the breaking point. If this kind of thing can happen in the less-affected Air Force, what kind of screw-ups are headed down the pike in the stretched-to-breaking Army and Marine Corps?

Puts those 17% hinky, wiavered Soldiers the Army signed up in FY 2006 in a whole new light, doesn't it?

Now for something to take your mind of it - and c'mon, you knew this was coming, if you know me at all....