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Nuke test scores actually fell during alleged cheating

Feb 24, 2014 - The Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Last summer, when dozens of nuclear missile officers are alleged to have cheated on exams, test scores were among the lowest of the year, according to Air Force records obtained by The Associated Press.

That is the opposite of what might be expected if answers were being shared as widely as officials allege.

The Air Force notes that tests are not identical each month, and thus score "variances can be expected."

The facts of the tainted testing are still under investigation by the Air Force Office of Special Investigations. It ranks as the worst such scandal in the history of the intercontinental ballistic missile force and is among a series of security lapses and slip-ups that have plagued the ICBM corps over the past year. The missteps prompted Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to launch two probes of the entire nuclear force to find root causes for leadership lapses and other problems -- steps Hagel deemed necessary to restore public confidence.

Hagel says he believes the nuclear force remains secure and reliable but says "something is wrong."

The alleged cheating has been described as a symptom of mismanagement by commanders who have given too much weight to the monthly test scores in determining which launch officers receive promotions.

More broadly, it reflects a degree of turmoil inside a force responsible for 450 nuclear-tipped Minuteman 3 missiles that stand launch-ready in underground silos in Montana, North Dakota, Wyo-ming, Colorado and Nebraska.

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