Several Air Force members charged with guarding some of the most powerful nuclear weapons in the United State’s arsenal have been busted as part of a drug ring that bought, sold, distributed and regularly used LSD and other mind-altering drugs.
The airmen, serving at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming as part of the 90th Missile Wing, were caught by investigators following a slip-up by one of the servicemen on social media. Those involved were first caught in March 2016, but the details of their case have only recently been made public after records describing the incident were obtained by the Associated Press. Most of the servicemen entangled in the case were responsible for the security and defense of the nuclear weapons on-site as well as the base’s missile complex.
In total, fourteen airmen were disciplined, six of whom were convicted in courts martial for LSD use and distribution. Furthermore, the court documents detailing the incident made no mention of whether LSD’s secondary effects, such as flashbacks or serious, long-lasting problems that can develop after a negative hallucinogenic experience, had affected the soldiers’ behavior while on the job. Some of the soldiers admitted that, under the influence of hallucinogens, they would not have been able to respond if called to duty to respond to a nuclear security emergency.
While none of the airmen admitted to using LSD or other drugs while on duty, and were reportedly not accused of on-duty drug use, the AP’s report noted that “Air Force investigators found those implicated in the F.E. Warren drug ring used LSD on base and off, at least twice at outdoor gatherings. Some also snorted cocaine and used ecstasy. Civilians joined them in the LSD use, including some who had recently left Air Force service, according to two officials with knowledge of the investigation.”
The drug ring involving members of F.E. Warren Air Force Base is the latest scandal for the Air Force’s nuclear missile corps as reports of illicit drug use and widespread cheating on missileer’s proficiency tests at other nuclear-armed bases have been exposed in recent years. Drug use has been the thornier of the issues, as other bases have found the use of other drugs such as ecstasy and amphetamines to be surprisingly common. Some analysts have cited low morale and the young age and lack of experience of the servicemen serving at these bases as underlying problems that have allowed these issues to take root. Others have pointed to a lack of investment in the nuclear missile corps by the federal government.
Despite those lingering problems, the missile force has been thrust back into the spotlight due to President Donald Trump’s calls to strengthen the country’s nuclear might following threats exchanged with North Korea last year and the recent cancellation of peace talks aimed at resolving tensions between the two nuclear powers. However, the recent revelation given the low morale and prolific drug use of servicemen charged with guarding the country’s nuclear weapons may give Americans pause as to whether more nuclear weapons are the solution to the U.S.’ foreign policy conflicts.