Nuke transportation story has explosive implications

via: The Raw Story
This story isn’t going away.
This was a letter to the editor of the Star-Telegram, written on Sunday October 7, 2007 by a retired lieutenant commander in the Navy Reserve, serving with the Navy’s Supervisor of Salvage, who was a specialist in weapons retrieval. This story demands intense investigation and answers. The implications are severe.

Special to the Star-Telegram

Last month, six W80-1 nuclear-armed AGM-129 advanced cruise missiles were flown from Minot Air Force Base, N.D., to Barksdale AFB in Louisiana and sat on the tarmac for 10 hours undetected.

Press reports initially cited the Air Force mistake of flying nuclear weapons over the United States in violation of Air Force standing orders and international treaties, while completely missing the more important major issues, such as how six nuclear cruise missiles got loose to begin with.

Opinion columns and editorials appeared in America’s newspapers, some blasting the Air Force for flying nukes over the U.S. and some defending the Air Force procedure. None of the news reports focused on the real questions of our nuclear security.

Let me be very clear here: We are not talking about paintball cartridges or pellet gun ammo. We are talking nuclear weapons.

There is a strict chain of custody for all such weapons. Nuclear weapons handling is spelled out in great detail in Air Force regulations, to the credit of that service. Every person who orders the movement of these weapons, handles them, breaks seals or moves any nuclear weapon must sign off for tracking purposes.

Two armed munitions specialists are required to work as a team with all nuclear weapons. All individuals working with nuclear weapons must meet very strict security standards and be tested for loyalty — this is known as a “Personnel Reliability Program.” They work in restricted areas within eyeshot of one another and are reviewed constantly.

All security forces assigned are authorized to use deadly force to protect the weapons from any threat. Nor does anyone quickly move a 1-ton cruise missile — or forget about six of them, as reported by some news outlets, especially cruise missiles loaded with high explosives.

The United States also does not transport nuclear weapons meant for elimination attached to their launch vehicles under the wings of a combat aircraft. The procedure is to separate the warhead from the missile, encase the warhead and transport it by military cargo aircraft to a repository — not an operational bomber base that just happens to be the staging area for Middle Eastern operations.

Yes, we still do fly nuclear warheads over the United States today. We also drive them over land as well. That’s not the point.

This is about how six nuclear advanced cruise missiles got out of their bunkers and onto a combat aircraft without notice of the wing commander, squadron commander, munitions maintenance squadron (MMS), the B-52H’s crew chief and command pilot and onto another Air Force base tarmac without notice of that air base’s chain of command — for 10 hours.

It is time that we got to the bottom of it through a comprehensive investigation.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has asked Larry Welch, a former Air Force chief of staff, to lead an independent inquiry into the implications of the incident. That is in addition to the existing Air Force investigation headed by Maj. Gen. Douglas Raaberg, director of air and space operations at Air Combat Command, which is responsible for all Air Force bombers and fighters.

The questions that must be answered:

1 Why, and for what ostensible purpose, were these nuclear weapons taken to Barksdale?

2 How long was it before the error was discovered?

3 How many mistakes and errors were made, and how many needed to be made, for this to happen?

4 How many and which security protocols were overlooked?

5 How many and which safety procedures were bypassed or ignored?

6 How many other nuclear command and control non-observations of procedure have there been?

7 What is Congress going to do to better oversee U.S. nuclear command and control?

8 How does this incident relate to concern for reliability of control over nuclear weapons and nuclear materials in Russia, Pakistan and elsewhere?

9 Does the Bush administration, as some news reports suggest, have plans to attack Iran with nuclear weapons?

10 If this was an accident, have we degraded our military to a point where we are now making critical mistakes with our nuclear arsenal? If so, how do we correct this?

Yes, heads must roll and careers will end. But let’s make sure that this includes the ranks from general officers to noncommissioned ones.

Or is this to be the Air Force version of the Abu Ghraib investigation?

Robert Stormer of Chicago is a retired lieutenant commander in the Navy Reserve, serving with the Navy’s Supervisor of Salvage, and was a specialist in weapons retrieval. He is a marine engineer and marine salvage specialist.

26 thoughts on “Nuke transportation story has explosive implications

  1. Great find, muse. This needs to stay in the front of our minds.

    It occurs to me that maybe someone was trying to steal the weapons to sell them, and the weapons were discovered before the sale could happen.

    That’s not exactly a comforting thought….

  2. Very good points brought up in the article. I think these things need to be answered. Nuclear weapons are not toys to be played with.

  3. As a member of the Military Police in the Army, I had to get a Security Clearance and was trained to protect facilities that had nuclear weapons and those that were capable of using nuclear weapons. As the article states their are special procedures that need to be followed or your ass is on the line. Even for such simple things as small arms everything is accounted for after each shift change and heads roll if you are missing anything. I remember a fellow soldier that was court martialed because some blank rounds were missing after a training excercise. Nothing moves in the military without it being accounted for and that includes people.

    This was no mistake! Someone purposefully pushed this through and it had to be someone in charge. I bet their are orders that allowed this to happen, because nothing gets done without an official order and in order to load active weaponry on a combat plane would require just that. Their is a paper trail for this and I bet it leads right up to Darth Cheney.

  4. This whole entire story wreaks of Bush trying to get a nuclear weapon into the hands of our enemies, so it could be set off and then we could be saved by the all mighty Bush.

  5. oldwolf63,

    Exactly. When I was in the Army doing range training with my M-16, you were issued 2 magazines of 20 rounds each. You had to turn in 40 spent casings before you could leave the range. That was for every single one of the 63 guys in the platoon. Same goes for anything.

    When we went to the hand grenade range, we had to turn in two spoons and two pins from the two hand grenades we through.


  6. I don’t think they would use a US made war head Spudge. Those weapons have a signature, that can identify where the plutonium was produced. Besides it would be easier to get a soviet made war head from Khazikstan, and blow that up in New York, or San Francisco.

  7. kranzy,

    There is a signature that can be read after a nuclear explosion. If that’s the case, I want to build a house made out of whatever that signature is made out of, so I can survive a nuclear blast. 🙂

  8. Damn, …..A bit over the top compared to 9/11 ..I think…And does it leave any doubt that just maybe 9/11 was an inside job….Guess if this bunch has it’s way with us all we won’t have to worry about them repaying the S.S. they stole, hell there won’t be any one left to collect….Are their jet’s fuled for a hasty retreat to their foreign country.?…..Just another day in bush world…….We sure need lot’s of Blessings.

  9. I think the key point here is where these 6 nukes were taken to was a “staging area for Middle Eastern operations.” I think they were going to be transported over there ‘under the radar’ (probably via Cheney orders) to be used against a possible attack on Iran. I have read plenty of article where it was suggested that Cheney wanted to hit Iran with a nuclear missile.
    I also read somewhere else that 7 missiles left but only 6 arrived. I can’t remember where I read that but I would REALLY want to know that and where the other one went to.
    I still want to know about those deaths of the soldiers who were working with in the area of those missiles over that one week period from ‘accidents’. They have not been in the papers after the one report.

  10. Gonna ba a lot off topic here today….Waiting for paint to dry.LOL…Heard on the new’s Kucenich’s birthday was yesterday, John Lennon’s was today and mine will be here before the end of the week…Peacenick’s all, Libra’s are such great people..

    A lttle true story for you all and then I will leave..This BTW will give back ground on why I posted what I did earlier on this thread….

    I mentioned to you all year’s ago my then husband wanted to raise mink, he thought it was a get rich thing…Yah right..

    The fellow we baught our stock from was a retired navy man that year’s before was stationed at Pearl Harbor…..I spent a lot of time learning and listening to his sage word’s….One afternoon he told me about his stay in Pearl Harbor and that his comander had told him the week before the bombing to take his family and go home…He said it was not going to be safe there any more and so he was able to leave….

    Hour’s after 9/11 I remembered that conversation of 1965…His one statement was ” by neglect or design the bombing was allowed to happen in order to rally the citizens in wanting war against Japan”…You all believe as you choose, I will remember “by neglect or design the bombing’s are allowed”…Rather it is to bomb Iran or bomb us here the fact these evil maniac’s have their finger’s on the red button is dreadful…….Back to the painting…Blessings all

  11. nwmuse

    I think the key point here is where these 6 nukes were taken to was a “staging area for Middle Eastern operations.” I think they were going to be transported over there ‘under the radar’ (probably via Cheney orders) to be used against a possible attack on Iran.

    Yep, I gotta’ agree with you on that one. As Spudge and Oldwolf pointed out, NO ordinance from a 9mm round to a Nuke gets moved, used, or disposed of without a specific chain of custody. If you fire 50 rounds, you BETTER turn in 50 empty casings. If you drop a bomb, you better have the stock number, and a completed Ordinance Custody Form showing when and where it was dropped.

  12. Unless ofcourse you are the one’s making all the rule’s, design’s, and behind closed door’s..Evil enough to not ever leave paper trail’s…..Hummmm.

  13. quick question, what happens if you lose a shell casing? I mean those suckers are small and can bounce almost anywhere. At least the rifle and pistol stuff is small. A .50 cal no so much.

  14. I can confirm what hackerbob and the other vets have said about ordnance issuance. You must account for every piece of ammo you are given by the DoD.

    But they can apparently give away rifles to the insurgents in Iraq without accountability!

    We have to keep after our media to press for answers to these questions. This should not have happened and I don’t care how f*cking classified the answers are, I want to hear them. (Personally, I had a high enough security clearance in the AF.)

  15. kranzy,

    I have never personally lost a casing, but I know if you are on a range you have to conduct a thorough police call of the area turning over every rock and twig. Then, if you are still not able to find it you have to fill out a missing ordinance statement describing when and where you lost it. Depending on the number of missing casings, location, caliber, and the whim of the Commander, they can conduct an official or unofficial investigation. This can be a full blown investigation or simply a quick question and answer session.

    When you have a group shooting on a range they are first required to clean up all brass casings. Then they are required to be cleared at every yard line (at least for the USMC). After firing the 200 yard line, a group of senior Enlisted has to “pat down” every shooter then send them to the “clean” 300 yard line. After the 300, shooters are cleared again and sent to the 500. After the 500 all shooters are cleared before leaving the range. All of the casings and unused ammo are then transported back to the armory where the armory staff hand count the ammo and casings to verify the count, signs off on the Ordinance Custody Report, and declares the range clear and complete.

    Sorry for the long post, but I hope I answered your question.

  16. Yep all the veterans and Hackerbob are correct. Ordinances are tightly controlled, if you did not return one casing from the range, it was your ass.
    Nukes are even more tightly controlled.

    The story ( coverup) from the military stinks to high heaven.

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