Silo based ICBMs, along with the submarine and ship based Nuclear Missiles, carry strategic nuclear warheads with enough punch to obliterate a targeted country many times over. These strategic weapon systems are at the core of US nuclear deterrence essential to maintaining the MAD status – In case Russia and China (it is no more ‘Russia or China’) launch a nuclear strike on US, they can count on the Mutually Assured Destruction.
These weapons systems – the Weapons of true Mass Destruction at the global scale, are always at the ready to launch at the command of the USSTRATCOM, OR at the decision of the local Wing Command – if the Wing Command believes that the USSTRATCOM has become incapable of making a decision. The command of the strategic missile launch wings is an enormous responsibility that requires the nerves of steel – If the time comes, these commanders are expected to make a decision that may very well cause the end of the human civilization on earth, OR, on the other hand, may lead to the surrender of US.
The people selected for this enormous responsibility are a very special lot. Beside having the required command rank and expertise, they must pass through a string of very thorough psychological and psychiatric screening processes to make sure that they can survive and perform under those very demanding conditions and environment. From among the hundreds of qualified candidates, only a few pass for the task. They are difficult to come by – and, there are very limited number of qualified commanding officers available for the job.
These commanders are, sort of, “saviors of the last resort”. They are counted upon to launch the retaliatory strikes if the nation goes under nuclear attack. They are the guarantee that no surprise nuclear strike on US will be launched.
So, when the commanders at these strategic wings are being selectively relieved of their duties, under some very dubious charges and accusations, then it should be a matter of grave concern to all. We have to consider if the nation’s retaliatory and counter strike capabilities are being deliberately compromised.
So far, from 2012 onward, more than 200 senior commanding officers – quite a few of them at the sensitive strategic nuclear missile command, have been relieved of their duties.
In November of 2014, Colonel Carl Jones, second in command of the 90th Missile Wing at FE Warren air force base, Wyoming, in charge of 150 of the air force’s 450 Minuteman 3 nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles, was dismissed “for a loss of trust and confidence in his leadership abilities.
At the same time, at the 91st Missile Wing at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, which also is responsible for 150 Minuteman 3 missiles, Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy “Keith” Brown was relieved of command “because of a loss of confidence in Brown’s ability to lead his squadron”.
Also disciplined at the North Dakota base was Col. Richard Pagliuco, the commander of the 91st Operations Group. It was not clear what disciplinary action was taken.
Each of these commands is responsible for 150 Minuteman 3 Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs). These missiles carry payloads with 27 times the destructive power of the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. They are capable of striking targets some 8,000 miles away within half an hour of their launch and vaporizing everything within a 50-mile radius, killing millions of human beings.
Carrying out simultaneous disciplinary actions against senior officers at two of the Air Force’s three ICBM bases is unprecedented. An Air Force spokesman told the AP that it was merely a “coincidence.”
Overseeing the disciplinary investigations was Maj. Gen. Jack Weinstein who was tapped to head the nuclear war command after his predecessor, Maj. Gen. Michael Carey, was sacked.
In December 2013, Maj. Gen. Michael Carey was fired for going on a drunken binge while on an official trip to Moscow – circumstances of which were very suspicious. Carey oversaw the 20th Air Force, with a total of 450 Minutemen ICBMs at three locations across the U.S…