Airman at facility overseeing US ballistic missiles caught smoking pot on duty – report

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An airman at a US Air Force base, overseeing nuclear-tipped missiles and bombers, has reportedly been caught red-handed puffing a joint in a missile alert facility, prompting an investigation.

The news about the incident has begun spreading like a wildfire after it was first reported by a popular Air Force Forum page on Facebook earlier this week.

The report claimed that an airman was “caught smoking marijuana in one of the MAFs (missile alert facilities),” at North Dakota’s Minot Air Force Base, and that investigators later found a “rolled joint” in one of the “interior couch cushions.”

The post, published October 20, claimed that while the weed-loving airman was “removed from the field” and that an investigation had been launched, the commanders were trying hard to keep the potentially security-compromising slip from becoming the talk of the town.

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Apparently, somebody was unwilling to keep mum and spilled the beans online, forcing the base into full-on damage control mode after the story was picked up by several military publications and made its way into the mainstream.

Air Force Spokesman Sgt. Benjamin Smith revealed Wednesday that the incident took place on October 9. The base acknowledged that “illegal drugs,” namely an unspecified amount of marijuana, were recovered as a result of the search. However, the Air Force denied the initial report that the substance was found inside a MAF, saying there was “no indication that illegal drugs were found below ground or near any missile operator.”

“Illegal drugs were found in the above-ground facilities of a Minot AFB Missile Alert Facility,” the base said in a statement, promising to give a more detailed account of the incident once a “thorough investigation,” now underway, is wrapped up.

“We take this matter seriously and will investigate this fully,” 2nd Lieutenant Gabriel M. Cushing, a spokesman for the base’s 5th Bomb Wing, told Task & Purpose. 

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Whether the Air Force is trying to make the incident sound less alarming in terms of security, or whether the author of the FB post has mixed things up, is up for speculation.

The Minot Air Base is somewhat notorious for its record of embarrassing security lapses, however. In 2008, an investigation was launched after three ballistic missile crew members at the base were caught dozing off on the job while in possession of classified launch code devices. 

Last year, Air Force offered a $5,000 reward for information that could have helped to locate and retrieve an armored box containing MK19 machine gun and launcher rounds after it fell off the vehicle travelling from the base. 

Minot is home to one of the US’s two B-52 bomber bases and watches over 150 Minuteman 3 nuclear missiles.

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