FIRST SWALLOWN HANDS
Several years ago there were several incidents in the US Air Force nuclear forces. At the end of the 2007 of the year, 52 cruise missiles were installed on the B-12 bomber, which he was to transport from the US Air Force Base Minot (North Dakota) to the Barksdale (Louisiana) base. The personnel who inspected the missiles before shipment ignored a number of checks, resulting in the unnoticed replacement of six missiles from training warheads to warheads with thermonuclear warheads destined for disposal. Until the end of the flight did not know about it and the bomber pilots. It was later established that the incident was caused by the actions of officials who prepared the plane for departure. They considered that the missiles transported by the bomber were not equipped with nuclear warheads. After thorough investigations, 70 people received various disciplinary actions, and five officers were dismissed from service.
In March 2008 of the year, it became known that two years ago, the Pentagon’s corresponding services “by mistake” sent four mini-ICBM “Minuteman” fuses to Taiwan instead of the ordered rechargeable batteries for helicopters. The fuses supplied to Formosa are a component of a fuse for a nuclear warhead mounted on this silo-based ICBM. Despite the fact that the technology of production of fuses was developed in the 60-s, it is still under the heading of secrecy.
According to the American media, in the middle of 2008, another event was unacceptable for the rocket forces. The two senior lieutenants and the captain fell asleep while on duty at the electronic control panel, with the help of which the launches of intercontinental nuclear missiles were monitored.
All of these cases have been thoroughly investigated by a number of commissions. Experts concluded that all of these violations were due to the failure of the personnel responsible for maintaining the missiles at the required level of alert and their launches, instructions and instructions, which they should strictly follow.
In connection with all these violations, Air Force Minister Michael Wynn and Chief of Staff Michael Mousley left office in the middle of 2008. And at the end of this year, it was decided to create the Global Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC), which began its operations in the summer of 2009. The composition of this command, the main task of which is to control the ground and air components of the nuclear triad, included nuclear components from the Combat Aviation Command and the US Air Force Space Command to increase its effectiveness.
The results of the latest study of the state of affairs in the rocket forces of the Air Force were published this spring. On the instructions of the Scientific Council of the Ministry of Defense (NSMO), it was conducted by a specialized group of experts who studied all aspects of the state of affairs in the nuclear units of the Air Force, including the quality of the performance of military duties by the military.
The specialists found that the units of the nuclear missile forces of the Air Force are not sufficiently staffed, and the professional level of many specialists involved in serving ICBMs and those on duty at their launch consoles does not fully meet the requirements for the professional level of personnel training, which are determined by the statutes, instructions and instructions kind of troops.
The recommendations developed by the NSMO experts indicate that the Assistant Minister of Defense for nuclear, chemical and biological programs, together with the leadership of the Air Force and Navy, should review and correct the instruction of the Defense Ministry on the implementation of the Nuclear Weapons Personnel Reliability Program (PRP) and to ensure its rigorous implementation by commanders of all degrees, managing military personnel of nuclear troops, as well as formulate clear and effective requirements for determining suitability to the service of all military and civilian personnel of these units.
The Minister and the Chief of Staff of the Air Force must take measures so that all the commanders of the nuclear units regularly report to the higher authorities on the fulfillment of the requirements of this instruction. In addition, it is necessary to ensure that the commanders of the US Air Force units in Europe, the Air Force rear command, the Air Force global strike command, the Air Force Inspectorate Directorate, and the MoD threat reduction command realize that the purpose of checking the health status of military personnel solving nuclear tasks suitability for service, and not the search for individual violations due to their moral and psychological condition. The certificate of conformity received by servicemen must confirm that they are fully capable of performing their functional duties.
STATUS OF ROCKET FORCES
According to the latest data of the Inspector General of the Defense Ministry, in the troops, including the Air Force, the level of discipline and morale of the military personnel is not sufficient, and even deteriorates. In addition, the number of crimes committed by the military, also remains unacceptably large. First of all, this concerned the Strategic Missile Forces of the Air Force. There was also some deterioration in the relationship between the male and female half of military units. Therefore, in the spring of 2013, the leadership of the Air Force instructed the RAND Corporation to investigate the situation in the missile forces for three months and make recommendations on how to remedy the unfavorable situation with crime, morality and discipline.
As noted in the study, the number of cases of misconduct rocket in the military tribunals in the 2011 and 2012 years was two times more than in the Air Force as a whole. However, after submitting a draft of the research project to journalists of the AR news agency, the leadership of the Air Force showed them statistical data showing that in recent months there has been a certain tendency to reduce the number of cases of rocket officers considered in the tribunals, but their number still remains higher than in the Air Force generally. The number of crimes per thousand rocket troops in the 2011 – 2012 years decreased from the 21 person and reached a statistical indicator in the 12,4 person. But this figure is still higher than in other formations of the Air Force.
The number of administrative punishments, including verbal reprimands and written orders for the punishment of bullying behavior and other violations of military discipline in the units of the rocket forces, in these years was also higher than in other formations of this type of US Armed Forces.
As stated by the Air Force experts, all these facts introduce a new dimension to the emerging picture of the ailing state of the strategic missile forces, that part of the United States Air Force, which was still considered an elite and now faced with an uncertain future.
Experts of the corporation found that a very fraught with the worst consequences poisonous mixture of moral dissatisfaction and a drop in motivation for serving personnel was greatly aggravated by the military’s awareness of underestimating their activities, professional overload and the constant risk of lack of professional skills, which could lead to non-fulfillment of their tasks.
Deployed on missile bases remote from cities and rarely brought to the attention of the public, units of the nuclear forces hardly attracted the attention of ordinary Americans. However, this year the Associated Press documented that sequence of mistakes in the actions of the command of this most important type of US national security for the Armed Forces, which calls into question its ability to control these forces.
Last winter, RAND specialists conducted a survey about 100 specialists from the rocket forces divisions. The survey involved officers who were directly responsible for launching ICBMs, military personnel of units that ensure the safety of positions of rocket launchers, subdivisions of logistics and logistics, as well as other structures that ensure the functioning of troops on rocket bases. In addition, respondents answered confidentially to questions compiled by experts of the corporation. In the course of these interviews, analysts of the corporation found that the military personnel of these troops are not very satisfied with their service activities, they are concerned about the shortage of personnel required by the staffing table. In addition, their dissatisfaction was caused by the shortcomings of the equipment being operated, as well as the extremely tough forms of management of their service activities by commanders of various degrees.
Every day, the 90 officers responsible for launching the 3 Minuteman missiles are on duty at the underground launch control centers. At each point, there are two officers controlling 10 ICBMs armed with one or more nuclear warheads.
The researchers also found that many specialists of the rocket forces are in a psychological state, which they called “burnout”. This concept, in the context of the report, introduced by leading psychologist “RAND”, a specialist in behavioral studies and one of the leading authors of the study, Chaitra Hardison, means that personnel feel they have completely exhausted their functional capabilities, are unfair in their duties and do not perform their tasks effectively . The psychologist used a rating scale for the responses of respondents who ranged from 1 to 7 points. Asked questions respondents answered in the range of "never" to "always." Each answer was assigned a certain score. According to this scale, the respondents themselves evaluated the answers to the question - how often did they experience certain feelings in their activities, including tiredness, hopelessness, or falling into hopeless conditions? Receiving answers with four balls or higher meant that the subject simply “burned out” in the service, that is, he lost due interest to her.
One of the servicemen during the survey said: “We are not at all interested in whether things are going properly. We just don't want to get in trouble. ” He and all others who participated in the study were assured of full confidentiality by RAND’s specialists with frank answers to the questions asked.
13 officers from the direct launching units of ICBMs who volunteered to take part in the study received an average 4,4 score on the Hardison scale. Of the rank and file members of the rocket launcher security units, 20 had a similar score, that is, the military personnel of these categories “burned out” more than all the other respondents.
Chief of Staff of the Air Force, General Mark Welsh, told the AR that today the missile forces are firmly on their feet and are effectively carrying out their tasks. “We have been doing everything right for a long time and will continue to do so for a long time,” the general said.
During the Cold War, the US strategic nuclear forces were considered the main force holding back the possibility of the start of the third world war and the destruction of humanity. Today such a danger is minimized. America's strategic nuclear forces and the number of warheads on their weapons have decreased significantly. Russia also reduced a significant number of nuclear warheads and their carriers. Therefore, the leadership of the Air Force of America is trying to show only the relative suitability of obsolete ICBMs to ensure national security in the world, more concerned with terrorism and cyber warfare, and also passing on to such types weapons XXI century, as unmanned aerial vehicles.
When will the final version of this study, it is not entirely clear. It is currently being finalized and some controversial issues are being clarified. However, one thing is clear: the leadership of the Air Force will have to work hard to bring the air and ground units assigned to it to the proper form, equipped with ICBMs.