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After scandal, Air Force to switch to pass/fail testing system for missile operators

Apr 19, 2014 - The Associated Press

CHEYENNE -- Changes are being made in the wake of a cheating scandal at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana, including the way the monthly certification tests that missile launch officers must take are graded, the nation's land-based nuclear force commander said.

Dozens of missile officers have been implicated in cheating on the test gauging their knowledge on how to operate the missiles. The scandal is one component of widespread troubles in the nation's nuclear forces documented by The Associated Press that also include failed inspections, low morale and burnout and a drug investigation that involves three intercontinental ballistic missile launch officers.

Air Force leaders fired several senior leaders at Malmstrom last month and ordered a review of operations at all three bases following the cheating revelations.

Maj. Gen. Jack Weinstein leads the 20th Air Force, which is responsible for 450 intercontinental ballistic missiles surrounding three bases in Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota. He said Friday that reforms are under way to ease the pressure on airmen who aim for perfect scores on the monthly tests.

Previously, airmen needed to score 90 percent or better on the tests to keep their certification. Now, the Air Force is moving to a pass/fail system.

That should relieve the perception by many that the airmen had to score perfectly to avoid reprimand or to advance their careers, Weinstein said.

"You don't have to be perfect in testing, and you don't have to be perfect in training," he said. "But you do have to be perfect when you are doing the mission."

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