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U.S. Air Force Scandals

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BOSSIER CITY, La -

The U.S. Air Force has been under fire with allegations of nuclear weapons crews cheating on readiness tests.

The secretary of the Air Force says, to her knowledge, this is not happening at Barksdale.

"My job, as secretary of the Air Force, is to make this better," said Secretary Deborah Lee James.

She visited Barksdale Air Force Base recently during her week-long tour of bases, on the heels of scandal.

Global Strike Command, which oversees the Air Force's nuclear arsenal from B52's to minuteman missiles, is headquartered here.

"As some of you know, we did have a failure of integrity on the part of some of our airmen and missile force," said Secretary James. "There was cheating."

The Air Force suspended 92 officers at Malmstrom Air Force Base, in connection with cheating on nuclear proficiency tests.

That's nearly half of the Montana base's nuclear launch crew.

"That's a very, very serious matter," said James. "We've discovered that some officers in the missile force cheated on a proficiency test, others knew about it, and didn't do anything to stop it."

Investigators were looking into drug allegations when they learned missile launch officers were reportedly texting test answers to each other.

Lieutenant General Stephen Wilson, Commander of Global Strike Command in Barksdale, told The New York Times, Defense officials don't think there was cheating at other nuclear launch sites because tests are different at every base.

Secretary James weighed in on whether or not this could be happening here.

"There have been no issues to my knowledge that have arisen here at Barksdale."

James said when there's a failure of integrity it reflects on everyone and that can bring people down.

She has spoken of "undue stress and fear" and that the nuclear force suffers "systemic problems."

"Some of the missile bases as I did my focus groups as I talked to the leadership there, I did pick up on morale issues," she said.

However, she was clear that's not the case here.

"I feel good about morale here at Barksdale," said James.

Cheating is just the latest in a series of scandals for the U.S. Air Force.

Drugs, leaving blast doors open while sleeping, and in 2007 a B52 was mistakenly loaded with nuclear cruise missiles.

The bomber flew in from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota.

When it landed at Barksdale, ground crews found nuclear warheads on the missiles mounted on the wings.

Military officials say the warheads were not armed and there was no risk of a nuclear explosion.

Secretary James is fresh on the job.

She was confirmed less than two months ago and already has her hands full with this latest Air Force blunder.

"It was a failure on the part of some of our airmen and their integrity," she said. "It was not a failure of our nuclear mission."

She says this situation will be dealt with.

"My promise is that within weeks, not months but weeks, we will have a plan of action," said James.

"We're strong, we're safe, we're reliable in that mission," she added, "and I'm ever more confident coming out of this week of travel."

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel recently summoned commanders to figure out whether cultural problems within the nuclear force make launch officers feel more compelled to cheat.

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