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US military failed to recapture seized nuclear weapon in test attack - internal review

Published time: May 22, 2014 10:04
Edited time: May 27, 2014 10:56
Reuters / Joe Skipper

Reuters / Joe Skipper

Guards at a US nuclear missile base failed last summer drill, which was meant to test their ability to withstand a hostile takeover, reports AP citing an internal review. US Air Force called it a “critical deficiency.”

In the drill the security team of the 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana was required to respond to a simulated capture of a Minuteman 3 nuclear missile silo. The guards had to recapture the seized nuclear weapon in the silo, but failed to do so, the report obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request indicated.

LGM-30G Minuteman III.(AFP Photo / US Air Force)

The partially censored document cited a failure to take "all lawful actions necessary to immediately regain control of nuclear weapons," without specifying those actions. The scenario, under which a hostile force, possibly terrorist, would seize a nuclear missile silo aiming to capture the missile warhead is called ‘Empty Quiver’, and the internal report said the security team demonstrated called a "critical deficiency," in failing to properly respond to it.

The section of the document apparently elaborating on what exactly went wrong with the security response was redacted before release. The Air Force said this information was withheld in accordance with senior-level Pentagon orders "prohibiting the unauthorized dissemination of unclassified information pertaining to security measures" for the protection of "special nuclear material."

The Air Force publicly acknowledged the drill failure in August, saying “tactical level errors” were made during the Malmstrom inspection on August 5-13, 2013. It didn’t say the errors were made by the security forces, who couldn’t properly secure the nuclear weapon entrusted to them.

When approached for comments of the latest strategic nuclear forces blunder in a string that was reported lately, Lt. Col. John Sheets, a spokesman for Air Force Global Strike Command, said he would not “divulge additional detail of the scenario or the response tactics due to it being sensitive information that could compromise security." He added that the Air Force implemented all corrective actions purported by the review cited by the AP.

The inspection was repeated two months later and found no security weaknesses, the news agency said.

Comments (279)


JC Bucks 23.05.2014 07:00


You really think the Chinese beat Americans at everything? You realize without the USA you wouldn't even be able to post your trash on the internet?
That is because we INVENTED the internet.
You are using an American invention to put down Americans. Ironic.
China rules the world huh? So, tell me, what is that little island that exists off the coast of China? Taiwan I think? Or is it the Republic of China? You know why it exists? Because America says so. That is why.
You know why South Korea exists?
Because America says it does.
America can project power anywhere. China cannot.


Djamer 23.05.2014 03:43

No 23.05.2014 03:04

The nukes are something to have fun with.
I saw 2 carts with two nukes each hotrod outside my office and two nukes rolled off. On different days.
We all had to leave, walk for one mile. Then, we were declared safe. They recovered those two, and had a serious word with the hotrodder. I sometimes wonder how many more rolled off at Charleston.


That's a good story. . .mine involves a friend of mine who was hired to be part a new Air Force Lifecycle Configuration Management team put together to keep track of the nukes.. . because they had LOST SOME!


Randy 23.05.2014 03:24

This happened last summer, but Fox News is reporting on it again today, as is RT. Must be a slow day for news.

View all comments (279)
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