Author Topic: Hagel suggests nuclear proficiency tests may be too difficult  (Read 470 times)

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Hagel suggests nuclear proficiency tests may be too difficult
« on: January 25, 2014, 03:26:23 AM »

By Jon Harper

Proficiency tests for nuclear launch officers might be too difficult, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said Friday.

“There’s a testing issue here,” Hagel told reporters at the Pentagon. “We have a pretty significant and tight and unforgiving test curriculum and regimen that I’m not sure doesn’t need to be explored and examined in some detail.”

Earlier this month, 34 nuclear missile launch officers were implicated in a cheating scandal at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. At least one of the officers texted answers to a proficiency exam to other officers last year in August and September, officials said.

Hagel suggested the difficult nature of the tests and the career implications of failure might have encouraged the cheating.

“When you connect that with the high standards [and] expectation that every test you take, if you don’t make a 100 percent on every test then you’re eventually in a position where you probably minimize your chance for advancement,” Hagel said. “We’re going to take a look at how we train [and] continue to train and test all these young people who have who have this great responsibility. Standards must not be eroded, of course not, but is there a better way to do this [and] can we -- can we be more attuned to their interests?”

Former nuclear launch officers told the New York Times that cheating was widespread among missileers when they were in the Air Force because the test standards were so high.

The intercontinental ballistic missile community has been plagued by other personnel problems and scandals recently.

Seventeen launch officers at Minot Air Force Base, N.D. were sidelined in April 2013 for unsatisfactory performance and unprofessional attitudes. The cheating scandal was first discovered during an Air Force investigation of an illegal narcotics scandal in which ICBM launch officers were implicated. The drug revelations coincidentally came to light during Hagel’s visit to F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo, on Jan. 9.

All three of the nation’s ICBM bases are located in remote and relatively unpopulated areas -- Great Falls, Mont., Cheyenne, Wyo., and Ward County, N.D. -- and the launch control centers where officers spend 24 hours at a time are far removed from cities and towns. During Friday’s press conference, Hagel suggested that boredom among launch might be contributing to the problem.

“When you put these people in these locations where there is -- where there is almost a certain amount of isolation, I think that’s a dynamic of an environment that you have to factor in too,” Hagel said. “Do they get bored? Are we doing enough?”

Hagel said the Defense Department would explore possible incentives that could be offered to launch officers to boost their morale and improve performance during an upcoming review of the Air Force’s nuclear enterprise, which was announced yesterday.

http://www.stripes.com/news/air-force/hagel-suggests-nuclear-proficiency-tests-may-be-too-difficult-1.263852

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Re: Hagel suggests nuclear proficiency tests may be too difficult
« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2014, 03:28:29 AM »
How hard can it be:

In the capsule, an alarm would have alerted the two-person missile crew of those directives. Immediately, over the speaker system, the launch control officers would hear a coded message, giving the command to launch. After verifying the message's authenticity, the launch officers would unlock a small, red, "Emergency War Order" safe above the deputy commander's control panel. Within the box were two launch keys. Each officer would take one key, and insert it into his or her control console. The missileers would then strap themselves into their console chairs and begin the final countdown.
At the end of the countdown sequence, the officers would turn their launch keys. The Air Force employed several fail-safes to prevent an unauthorized missile launch. For example, both officers had to turn their launch keys in unison. Because the launch switches were 12 feet apart, it was impossible for one person to turn both keys at once. The final command to launch also required another "vote" (two missileers performing the same procedure at another Launch Control Center in the missile field) from outside of the capsule.

When the second vote came in, the LAUNCH IN PROCESS display would illuminate. Explosive gas generators would then push open the 90-ton launch doors covering the ten missile silos, and the nuclear-tipped Minutemen would begin streaking toward their targets half a world away. As each missile blasted from its silo, its upper umbilical cable would sever, triggering the MISSILE AWAY light on the commander's control panel.

In less than five minutes, the capsule missileers would have completed their mission. The Minuteman missiles would take another half hour to reach their targets
« Last Edit: January 25, 2014, 03:29:46 AM by SPQR »

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Re: Hagel suggests nuclear proficiency tests may be too difficult
« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2014, 10:13:53 PM »
How hard can it be:

In the capsule, an alarm would have alerted the two-person missile crew of those directives. Immediately, over the speaker system, the launch control officers would hear a coded message, giving the command to launch. After verifying the message's authenticity, the launch officers would unlock a small, red, "Emergency War Order" safe above the deputy commander's control panel. Within the box were two launch keys. Each officer would take one key, and insert it into his or her control console. The missileers would then strap themselves into their console chairs and begin the final countdown.
At the end of the countdown sequence, the officers would turn their launch keys. The Air Force employed several fail-safes to prevent an unauthorized missile launch. For example, both officers had to turn their launch keys in unison. Because the launch switches were 12 feet apart, it was impossible for one person to turn both keys at once. The final command to launch also required another "vote" (two missileers performing the same procedure at another Launch Control Center in the missile field) from outside of the capsule.

When the second vote came in, the LAUNCH IN PROCESS display would illuminate. Explosive gas generators would then push open the 90-ton launch doors covering the ten missile silos, and the nuclear-tipped Minutemen would begin streaking toward their targets half a world away. As each missile blasted from its silo, its upper umbilical cable would sever, triggering the MISSILE AWAY light on the commander's control panel.

In less than five minutes, the capsule missileers would have completed their mission. The Minuteman missiles would take another half hour to reach their targets

It's not the doing, it's the waiting to do.  Considering the degree to which tasks can be done remotely, they ought to be giving these folks something more to do while they're on duty, but in such a way that they don't have to leave the command capsule and can drop what they're doing at a moment's notice to respond to a launch command.

Makes one wonder just how well the old Soviet missile launch crews did, given that Soviet soldierly weren't usually quite as high in quality as US.
« Last Edit: January 26, 2014, 10:14:38 PM by Oceander »

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Re: Hagel suggests nuclear proficiency tests may be too difficult
« Reply #3 on: January 26, 2014, 11:18:41 PM »
Makes one wonder just how well the old Soviet missile launch crews did, given that Soviet soldierly weren't usually quite as high in quality as US.

They played chess.
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Re: Hagel suggests nuclear proficiency tests may be too difficult
« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2014, 12:01:24 AM »
It's not the doing, it's the waiting to do.  Considering the degree to which tasks can be done remotely, they ought to be giving these folks something more to do while they're on duty, but in such a way that they don't have to leave the command capsule and can drop what they're doing at a moment's notice to respond to a launch command.

Makes one wonder just how well the old Soviet missile launch crews did, given that Soviet soldierly weren't usually quite as high in quality as US.

You are coorect. These men and women spend 95 percent of their time of doing nothing.

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Re: Hagel suggests nuclear proficiency tests may be too difficult
« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2014, 12:02:17 AM »
They played chess.

They do other things like paint the blast doors, study of their PhD exams,etc

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Re: Hagel suggests nuclear proficiency tests may be too difficult
« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2014, 01:00:53 AM »
Not nukes - but when we were on alert status, we'd take turns giving lectures on something that interested us. Kept your mind active, but you could drop it in an instant if necessary.

Reading to each other - books, newspapers, journals,then talking about the articles or chapters. Painting was uncommon, but charcoals and pastels were both popular. Cooking was hugely popular for everyone. Monopo;y was banned though - too much chance of a fight.
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Re: Hagel suggests nuclear proficiency tests may be too difficult
« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2014, 05:45:12 AM »
Not nukes - but when we were on alert status, we'd take turns giving lectures on something that interested us. Kept your mind active, but you could drop it in an instant if necessary.

Reading to each other - books, newspapers, journals,then talking about the articles or chapters. Painting was uncommon, but charcoals and pastels were both popular. Cooking was hugely popular for everyone. Monopo;y was banned though - too much chance of a fight.

My university professor used the station to play music to the other areas in the base.


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