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Air Force missile wing cheating scandal continues to unfold

A still unfolding cheating scandal at a Montana military installation is notable, singular and embarrassing for United States Air Force officials, as they continue to investigate and mete out punishment to both senior and junior officers.

The matter first came to public attention in January of this year, when information emerged that widespread cheating was being engaged in by nuclear missile crews at Malmstrom Air Force Base. Allegedly, scores of crew members -- reportedly as many as 100 personnel of launch teams at Malmstrom’s 341st missile wing -- were involved in a scam pursuant to which they provided test answers to each other or simply looked the other way and remained silent while fellow crew members were doing so.

A recent article in the Los Angeles Times calls the scandal “a serious blow” to the Air Force, which initially stated that the cheating was far more confined than it eventually turned out to be.

Punishment has been swift and severe for some senior officers, and promises to be notably stringent for select lower-level crew members, who will reportedly face courts-martial proceedings.

Air Force officials stated late last month that the missile wing commander at Malmstrom will promptly retire. Nine other senior officers under his command will be removed from their duties and will face various administrative punishments. None of those officers reportedly knew of the cheating. The 10 disciplined officers comprised the entire chain of command for the wing.

As for the alleged cheaters, punishment outcomes will likely range widely and, as noted, will be flatly harsh for some participants.

As this blog has pointed out in prior posts, military punishment can bring severe repercussions to persons charged with wrongdoing. Moreover, military law differs from civilian law in a number of respects.

Accordingly, it is important that military members who are facing courts-martial proceedings or other disciplinary actions secure prompt, knowledgeable and aggressive representation from an experienced military defense attorney.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Air Force to replace 10 senior officers in exam-cheating scandal," David S. Cloud, March 27, 2014

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