Sleep Tight, America, Your Air Force is Awake!

Well, most of it, anyway:

Three ballistic missile crew members in North Dakota fell asleep while holding classified launch code devices this month, triggering an investigation by military and National Security Agency experts, the Air Force said Thursday.

The probe found that the missile launch codes were outdated and remained secure at all times. But the July 12 incident comes on the heels of a series of missteps by the Air Force that had already put the service under intense scrutiny…

The three crew members, who are in the 91st Missile Wing, were in the missile alert facility about 70 miles from Minot. That facility includes crew rest areas and sits above the underground control center where the actual keys can be turned to launch the ballistic missiles.

Officials said the three officers were behind locked doors and had with them the old code components, which are large classified devices that allow the crew to communicate with the missiles. Launch codes are part of the component, and the devices were described as large, metal boxes.

[Air Force spokesman Col. Dewey] Ford said they were waiting to get back to base “and they fell asleep.”

It is not clear how long they were asleep.


Dave Casto

December 18, 2011
11:25 am

The Air Force has always had a problem with officers becoming complacent in the handling of classified documents. In the 1950’s I was an Air Policeman at Offutt AFB, and a critical part of our patrol duties was checking the security of safes and the offices of senior officers. We often found documents of the highest classification left lying opening on the desks of General LeMay’s staff. Even more frightening was some of the glitches I observed over the years in the protection of nuclear weapons, both in storage and loaded on B-52 Bombers on the flight line.

Mark Jaeger

February 13, 2013
4:58 pm

Having briefly run the Personnel Reliability Program (PRP) in a missile group prior to retiring at Grand Forks AFB ND in ’95, I can guarantee these three unfortunates were decertified quicker than you could say, “S*** Outta Luck.”