Nuclear safety

Nuclear Launch Officers Tied to Narcotics Investigation

How comforting

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F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel made a rare visit Thursday to an Air Force nuclear missile base, hoping to boost morale among the men and women who operate and safeguard the nation's Minuteman 3 nuclear missiles. But his attempt to cheer the troops was tempered by news that launch officers at another base had been implicated in an illegal-narcotics investigation.

A U.S. defense official said two Air Force officers at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana were implicated but didn't provide more details.

Both are ICBM launch officers with responsibility for operating the Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missiles and work for the 341st Missile Wing, said the official. He spoke only on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to discuss the matter publicly by name.

The official said the officers' access to classified information had been suspended and they were prohibited from serving on missile launch control duty while the Air Force is investigating.