Lawmakers were quick to call for a renewed commitment to nuclear weapons safety Thursday after Air Force action against 15 officers in the wake of nuclear intercontinental ballistic missile nose cone fuse assemblies being shipped to Taiwan by mistake.
Six Air Force generals and nine officers were disciplined, but not fired. Still, Air Force Secretary Michael Donley said the penalties could affect the officers’ futures, “including their potential to command, to be promoted or to retire in their current grade.”
Three of the generals are asking to retire or were already planning to retire.
Members of the House Armed Services Committee praised the decision and urged better nuclear security.
“Maintaining proper institutional safeguards on our nation’s nuclear arsenal is a critical mission,” Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) said in a statement. “The disciplinary actions announced today are regrettable, but are necessary to address recent leadership failures. The Air Force must now focus on improving its security culture to ensure that such incidents do not happen again.”
Rep. Duncan Hunter of California, the committee’s ranking Republican, called the action “tough medicine that follows the tradition of a military system based on accountability.”
“Clearly,” he added, “it is time to provide a renewed focus on America’s strategic mission.”