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Posted: 1/19/2014 8:31:38 AM EDT
I spent 8 ½ years on ICBM Combat Crews, first in the Titan system and then in Minuteman.  I was a Crew Commander and later a Flight Commander.  

In those days, 1972 to 1980, there was a significant threat of nuclear war with the USSR.  The monthly testing was probably as tough as it is now and the alert tours just as boring, but we had cause to take our job seriously.  That’s changed.  The threat of a surprise attack by someone who needs to be nuked immediately with a Minuteman missile is just about zero.  Current Missile Combat Crews know that.  Missile crew duty these days must seem like a pointless, dreary chore with no application on the outside.  Who’s going to hire you to sit in a hole in the ground and not turn a key?

During my Titan days, the crews were made up of two officers and two enlisted men.  There were no reliable drug tests then, and drug use was rampant.  Of all the enlisted crew members I knew, there were just 2 that I was pretty sure weren’t smoking pot.  Later, it turned out I was wrong about one of them.  At least half the officers smoked dope.  This was well known, but there wasn’t much that could be done about it.  We were already pulling 7 or 8 alert tours a month, which killed 2 days per tour, and we had classroom training and rides in the simulator and additional duties.  Every crew member who was caught meant more alert tours for the rest of us.  Nobody wanted that.

I didn’t know for a fact that anyone cheated on their monthly tests, but since any score under 100% resulted in reprimands and other punishment, I’m sure it happened.  

My point:  Cheating and drug use by missile crew members is nothing new.  With morale as low as I hear it is, I’m not surprised it’s going on.  Promotion opportunities must be very limited in a small career field like that.  Making Major must be tough, and if you don’t get promoted, you’re through.  

I wish I had some answers.  
Link Posted: 1/19/2014 8:40:04 AM EDT
Humans are too unreliable to be trusted with this responsibility.  We should automate the entire system.  Call it something cool, like "airnet" or "skyweb".  We can figure that out later.
Link Posted: 1/19/2014 10:18:15 AM EDT
There was a time when all a Titan II crew member had to do to start WWIII was to disable the other three crew members (not much challenge there!) (I’m not kidding!), break a wire seal on a circuit breaker box and turn off a breaker, cut the locks off the officers’ “secure” boxes holding the decoding/verification documents and the launch keys (there was a nice hacksaw in the tool box), insert the keys and turn the keys.  The design was supposed to prevent one person from turning both keys at the same time, but that was a joke.  Physical security on military bases is usually a joke.  Anyone with a piece of string, a paper clip and a pencil could turn the Deputy’s key while turning the Commander’s key.  Twenty-five minutes later there's a 10.5 megaton BOOM over Moscow.  

Considering the number of military-hating people who were in the USAF only because it was the only way to avoid being drafted into the Army and going to Viet Nam, it’s amazing that no one did just that.  That was the situation for years, until the system was upgraded.  
Link Posted: 1/20/2014 5:18:39 AM EDT
AF Chief of Staff General Walsh has been all over AFN-Europe thoroughly pissed about this whole thing.  I can see why.
Link Posted: 1/20/2014 12:30:24 PM EDT
If the General reacts by coming down hard on his officers instead of working to fix the causes, it’s just going to get worse.  

Bad morale caused by the perception that they’re doing a difficult but useless job in a dead-end career field is gonna be tough to fight.
Link Posted: 1/24/2014 5:50:05 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Japle:
I spent 8 ½ years on ICBM Combat Crews, first in the Titan system and then in Minuteman.  I was a Crew Commander and later a Flight Commander.  

In those days, 1972 to 1980, there was a significant threat of nuclear war with the USSR.  The monthly testing was probably as tough as it is now and the alert tours just as boring, but we had cause to take our job seriously.  That’s changed.  The threat of a surprise attack by someone who needs to be nuked immediately with a Minuteman missile is just about zero.  Current Missile Combat Crews know that.  Missile crew duty these days must seem like a pointless, dreary chore with no application on the outside.  Who’s going to hire you to sit in a hole in the ground and not turn a key?

During my Titan days, the crews were made up of two officers and two enlisted men.  There were no reliable drug tests then, and drug use was rampant.  Of all the enlisted crew members I knew, there were just 2 that I was pretty sure weren’t smoking pot.  Later, it turned out I was wrong about one of them.  At least half the officers smoked dope.  This was well known, but there wasn’t much that could be done about it.  We were already pulling 7 or 8 alert tours a month, which killed 2 days per tour, and we had classroom training and rides in the simulator and additional duties.  Every crew member who was caught meant more alert tours for the rest of us.  Nobody wanted that.

I didn’t know for a fact that anyone cheated on their monthly tests, but since any score under 100% resulted in reprimands and other punishment, I’m sure it happened.  

My point:  Cheating and drug use by missile crew members is nothing new.  With morale as low as I hear it is, I’m not surprised it’s going on.  Promotion opportunities must be very limited in a small career field like that.  Making Major must be tough, and if you don’t get promoted, you’re through.  

I wish I had some answers.  
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If you ever get a chance to read the Schlesinger report it basically said once SAC went away and the perceived importance of the ICBM leg of the triad went away from the Air Force.  Bottom line, the staff it mostly with people who the AF sees as marginal and guard it with guys the AF establishment says "not smart enough to do any other AFSC"  and you get the results you expect.
Link Posted: 1/25/2014 10:08:54 AM EDT
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By Max_Power:
Humans are too unreliable to be trusted with this responsibility.  We should automate the entire system.  Call it something cool, like "airnet" or "skyweb".  We can figure that out later.
View Quote


Maybe call it COLOSSUS, SKYNET or WOPR?
Link Posted: 1/25/2014 10:48:32 AM EDT

Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By DECOY51:
Maybe call it COLOSSUS, SKYNET or WOPR?
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Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By DECOY51:



Originally Posted By Max_Power:

Humans are too unreliable to be trusted with this responsibility.  We should automate the entire system.  Call it something cool, like "airnet" or "skyweb".  We can figure that out later.




Maybe call it COLOSSUS, SKYNET or WOPR?
What could possibly go wrong?

 
Link Posted: 1/28/2014 10:26:39 AM EDT
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By Japle:
If the General reacts by coming down hard on his officers instead of working to fix the causes, it’s just going to get worse.  

Bad morale caused by the perception that they’re doing a difficult but useless job in a dead-end career field is gonna be tough to fight.
View Quote


In my humble opinion it is obviously a Command & discipline problem.

Is it a problem in the Navy nuke program?  Nope.  Why is that?  Are crews paid better?  Nope.  

Is it a problem in the Army's Chemical Weapons PRP?  Nope?  Are crews & personnel paid better?  Nope.

 So what is it then?

 The chain of command not enforcing the standards and the crews being complacent.  Think sitting in a temperature controlled hole sucks, try humping Afghanistan.

 I don't buy the 'difficult but useless job in a dead-end career field' - What does Infantry or a Tanker have to look forward to in the civilian world?  Being a mid-level manager?

 Command & Discipline will fix it, if it can be suitably addressed.

Otherwise, fix the triad and transition the missiles away from the service that can't run them efficiently and place it under the US Army's SMDC/ARSTAT.

 

~Will
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