MINOT AIR FORCE BASE Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James says she doesn't think boredom has anything to do with recent incidents involving some officers who control the nation's intercontinental ballistic missiles.
"There was nothing I saw that would lead me to believe that there's a boring nature. If anything, it's a very fast paced kind of job that I witnessed so I don't think that's it all," said James at a news conference during her Jan. 22 visit to Minot Air Force Base.
"But I have picked up on morale issues. I have picked up that when you frequently read in the newspapers that this bad thing happened... We're all human beings. It can't help but weigh upon you, and if you're a human being that's chosen to dedicate what could be your life's work, it's particularly hurtful. You're proud of what you do and you want to do the best...," she said.
of the Air Force Deborah Lee James,left, viewed equipment and met with airmen from the 91st Missile Wing at Minot Air Force Base, Jan. 22, shown in this photo by Senior Airman Stephanie Sauberan. James toured a variety of training facilities and learned the procedures that are practiced to ensure the safety and security of the nation’s nuclear force.
At the news conference at Minot AFB, James mainly focused her comments on her plans to "get to the bottom" of a test cheating incident involving around 34 ICBM launch control officers at Malmstrom AFB at Great Falls, Mont.
This past week, officials said more launch control officers at Malmstrom were implicated in the test cheating scandal, according to The Associated Press. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity.
James said at the Minot AFB news conference that the test cheating was a failure of some airmen and their integrity but not a failure of the nuclear mission. "I have full confidence in the nuclear force," she said.
James said she would be developing a plan for changes and improvements in the next weeks.
James has been on the job as secretary of the Air Force since December. She was ceremoniously sworn in as the 23rd secretary of the Air Force on Jan. 24 the same week she made her three-day tour of the three ICBM bases and Air Force Global Strike Command headquarters at Barksdale AFB, La.
James visited missile facilities at two of the ICBM bases and met with airmen at the bases, including Minot Air Force Base, during her trip. At Minot AFB, she held a meeting to speak with airmen from both the 5th Bomb Wing and the 91st Missile Wing.
Maj. Toni Whaley, a spokeswoman for James, said James visited a missile procedures trainer and launch facility trainer at F.E. Warren AFB and visited Missile Alert Facility India 01 at Malmstrom AFB.
F.E. Warren AFB is at Cheyenne, Wyo., and Malmstrom AFB is at Great Falls, Mont.
"The trip was designed so she could visit with the maximum number of airmen while seeing the entire mission," Whaley said.
James, while at Minot AFB, said she was going to return to Washington, D.C., and start developing her plan.
Maj. Gen. Jack Weinstein and Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force James Cody accompanied James on her visit to the bases.
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh visited Minot AFB the day before James' visit. He also visited the other two ICBM bases.
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said when he conducted the Jan. 24 swearing-in ceremony for James that her top priority is to restore the confidence in the Air Force's nuclear mission.
The day before Hagel announced the Defense Department is conducting a review of the U.S. military's entire nuclear enterprise because of recent allegations regarding the ICBM force.
Hagel met with senior officers involved in the nuclear force this past Wednesday at the Pentagon to discuss how to attack the problems, the Associated Press reported.
James said at the Minot AFB news conference that she thinks the future of the nuclear mission remains very important. She said that deterrence and having a triad the three legs of the nuclear strategy is worthwhile as it has been for past decades "and is going to carry us into the future. So I don't see change in that regard."
The three legs of the nuclear triad are ICBMs, strategic bombers and submarine-launched ballistic missiles. Minot AFB is the only base with two nuclear-capable wings the 5th Bomb Wing and its B-52s and the 91st Missile Wing with its ICBMs in underground facilities in the Minot missile complex.