"The Air Force discharged three North Dakota ballistic missile crew members who fell asleep while holding classified launch code devices, the military announced Tuesday. Officials said the codes were outdated and remained secure at all times."This story reminded me of an observation made by Bruce Blair in his chapter “Alerting in Crisis and Nuclear War” in Ashton Carter, John Steinbruner, and Charles Zraket’s iconic 1987 tome Managing Nuclear Operations (p. 85):
“The normal peacetime level of alert permits crew members to sleep while on duty. Depending on the time of day, a DEFCON 3 message literally might awaken the Minuteman launch crews, an obvious precondition for the rapid firing of forces."The editors of Managing Nuclear Operations remind us that (p. 3):
"In its forty years of existence the command system has had direct experience of only one operational state -- peacetime."We should all be grateful that since that writing, this period has been extended more than half again. We should also be respectfully critical and vigilant about the challenges of the next sixty years of nuclear operations.
Nukes on a Blog would like to thank Joseph Grieboski for passing on the AP story.