Back during my time in the military, one summer I volunteered to be a tour guide for several U.S. Air Force Academy cadets who were visiting Whiteman AFB, Missouri.

It was hard to keep their attention because at that time Whiteman had no planes. It was a nuclear missile base. I took groups of five or so cadets on the tour, and then would drop them off and take five more. During the tour I asked each group, “What are you going to do after your graduate?” Almost 100% of the group replied with “I’m going to fly jets.”

Finally toward the end of the day, I had grown tired of their answers, so I set the record straight by saying, “There are not enough ^%&$ jets in the military for everyone to fly one – some of you will be a supply officer or a missile launch officer – so get used to it.”

It was like I told them their dog had just died.

Being a missile launch officer is not as “sexy” as flying jets. It’s not as “sexy” as flying a C-130 cargo plane, either.

The Associated Press reported on Saturday “Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is searching for the root causes of recent Air Force missteps but also for ways to make the nuclear warrior’s job more attractive at a time when the military has turned its attention away from such weapons.” He has ordered a review of the nuclear forces.

Missile folks are jealous over the publicity and status that pilots have. The commanders of these folks are jealous, too.

U.S. Senator Jon Tester, D-Mont., supports the review of nuclear forces proposed by Hagel. Tester is correct in doing that. Tester was visiting the Cascade County Commissioners last week. His visit was reported by the Great Falls Tribune.

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“Loss of Confidence”

The news release from Malmstrom AFB’s 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs Office was carefully crafted and a little over 200 words in length. The first two sentences basically said it all. It also ended a career:

The 341st Security Forces Group commander was relieved of command Aug. 22.

341st Missile Wing commander, Col. Robert Stanley, relieved Col. David Lynch from command of the 341st SFG due to a loss of confidence in Lynch’s ability to lead his group.

Malmstrom officials were quick to point out that “Lynch’s removal is not a result of the recent Nuclear Surety Inspection failure. However, as the 341 MW prepares for a re-inspection, Stanley must have full confidence in the leadership ability of his commanders.”

The Great Falls Tribune also reported, “Lynch’s removal was not related to any misconduct.”

So what caused Colonel Robert Stanley (Malmstrom’s Wing Commander), to send a news release about a colonel being relieved from duty on a Friday afternoon, which led to his photo being pasted on Saturday’s front page of the local newspaper?  Continue reading