By Robert Burns
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Members of the Air Force nuclear missile unit hit with the double whammy of drug and cheating scandals are "brokenhearted," their commander said Friday.
In his first interview since the investigations were announced Wednesday at the Pentagon, Col. Robert W. Stanley II said the 341st Missile Wing is compensating for the loss of 34 launch control officers by increasing the work load on others. They operate 150 nuclear-tipped Minuteman 3 missiles.
Stanley said this can be managed "pretty easily" because the unit has long had contingency plans for the sudden loss of large numbers of launch officers for any number of reasons, including illness. It has taken a toll, nonetheless.
"We certainly wish this had not happened. I mean, holy cow," Stanley said by telephone from his headquarters at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls, Mont.
"It's the worst possible thing that I can think of an officer of the U.S. Air Force doing, aside from murder, is lying," he said. "And so that's tough on us."