Lost Nukes, I wonder…

Michael W. Wynne, the Sec AF, responded to “The Saga of a Bent Spear” this morning in the Washington Post.  Yesterday, an old bomber pilot circulated a copy of the article and a piece of the EXTERIOR INSPECTION checklist 1B-52H-30-1 (Apr 2000):

1.d. AGM-129 Missiles – Checked
(1) Nose Protective Guard – Checked removed
(2) Payload Marking – Checked: Check proper payload is installed for the mission
(3) Evidence of Missile Fuel Leaks – Checked

Mr. Wynne states the investigation will be completed within several days.  He also covers four issues that show the AF is not waiting for the results of the investigation:
1) Weapon inspections at all similar installations as Minot and Barksdale.
2) ACC did a stand-down to review munitions policies, regulations and procedures.
3) dialogue with the Sec Def and his inspectors
4) Mr. Wynne has visited both bases and looks at the “dedicated professionals working with our munitions.”

He finishes with declaring the USAF owes a comprehensive, detailed investigation with results that will be transparent and accurate.

I read in the AF Times that he’s called Gen Welch to help look at things, not sure if that is as a formal part of the investigation.  I wonder how an older B-52 general, former CINC SAC, COSAF would be impressed with the reorganization of the bomber force under the leadership of weapon-school grads, that being the most important qualification for leadership? Gen Welch was a doer, I had a conversation with him back in the summer of 1987 that resulted in copilots being called pilots and pilots being called aircraft commanders . . . yes that was my idea, but he made it happen.

I wonder if an objective look will be made at a system that is a political faternal-order of school graduates which has literally defused our nuclear bomber force from any resemblance of the professionalism that was once common place.  Remember when every unit had one or two idiots on the team, but they weren’t the guys in charge?

I wonder if a hard look will be made at how many “pumping-gas into your mini-van” safety briefings were made during our myriad “safety/training days.”

I wonder if a hard look will be made at what really goes on during a mission planning day or on the nearly non-existent critque days.

I wonder if job proficiency will ever become a priority for advancement in the bomber-force.

I wonder if the inspectors will perform a comprehensive psychological and intelligence review of the crop of weapon-school leaders that control the bomber force.  Then I wonder if they’ll conduct a similar test of the crew force that serves them.

I wonder if the investigation will reveal the “brains” behind the process that gutted the aircrews’ ability to follow checklists or recognize nuclear weapons in a 6 out of 12 line-up.

I wonder if the USAF will clean up the leadership disease, and in doing so will they recall the generals who allowed such as virus to infect our Air Force and hold them accountable for the fruits of their labor.

I wonder how frustrated Michael Wynne must be as he tries to deal with the excrement he inherited.

I wonder if there was anything else I could have done while I was on active duty to have prevented this mess – a mess we all saw coming.

I wonder if the true test of leadership really is “knowing when to follow” or is it “knowing when to fall on your sword.”  The personal results is about the same in each case, but the institutional results might have been better.  I wonder if … it just makes sense.

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