Air Force Global Strike Command said Monday that an unidentified number of security forces airmen at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming are under investigation for possible marijuana use and have been removed from their duties.
The misconduct allegations involve airmen from the 90th Security Forces Group, which is in charge of law enforcement at F.E. Warren, as well as protecting its 15 Missile Alert Facilities and 150 Minuteman III nuclear missiles — about one-third of the nation’s intercontinental ballistic missile force — across a three-state region, Global Strike Command said in a release. Global Strike declined to say how many airmen are under investigation.
Gen. Tim Ray, commander of Global Strike Command, and Command Chief Master Sgt. Charles Hoffman held a surprise leadership call at the base Monday to discuss the reports of marijuana use.
“Our solemn duty is to protect this nation," Ray said in a news release. "The majority of our airmen are exceptional and have made significant gains in ensuring excellence and adhering to exacting standards. But we will not give up one inch of this hard-earned ground. When any of us see those not living up to our high standards, we will hold them accountable using all of the disciplinary tools available under the military justice system.”
Global Strike said the airmen under investigation are presumed innocent until proven guilty, but have been removed from their positions pending the completion of the investigation.
Ray also reminded leaders of all levels at the base that they need to show “authentic leadership.”
“Exceptional job performance does not matter if our airmen do not live by our core values,” Ray said. “NCOs and officers must set and enforce the standards for our junior airmen. We must create an environment that fosters warfighting excellence, esprit de corps, and thriving airmen — off and on duty.”
Drug-related misconduct has plagued the nuclear missile community in recent years. In 2016, investigators began to crack a drug ring involving members of the 90th Missile Wing at F.E. Warren — many of whom were junior enlisted airmen in the 90th Security Forces Group — in which airmen bought, used and distributed LSD. The Associated Press reported in 2018 that 14 airmen were ultimately disciplined, including six who were convicted at courts-martial of LSD use or distribution or both.
Last October, Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota launched an investigation after marijuana was discovered at the above-ground portion of a nuclear missile alert facility.
And the Air Force’s entire nuclear missile enterprise was rocked in 2014 when it emerged that some missileers had been using drugs and cheating on tests. Those revelations caused many to question the professionalism and effectiveness of the career field, and caused the Air Force to overhaul how it managed the nuclear career field.
Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter at Defense News. He previously reported for Military.com, covering the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare. Before that, he covered U.S. Air Force leadership, personnel and operations for Air Force Times.