The triad, the land, sea, air nuclear forces have long been (at least since the Cuban Missile Crisis) an expensive piece of kabuki theater. No one is ever going to use them, so it is pretty much of a joke to keep them in launch on a moment's notice mode. As a matter of fact, nuclear weapons are already outlawed. No one who might actually use them is allowed to have them. The drama with Iran is because they act like they actually believe the Israelis would use their against Iran. But the Israelis won't either. They would never risk the utter opprobrium that would accompany actual use. Making Israel the object of universal condemnation would be an unthinkable mistake. So it's kabuki theatre for them too.
In that context we should not be surprised, as the Times reports today that cheating on tests of proficiency and competence is endemic among those who manage and maintain our arsenal. It's pretty silly to be told to maintain a sharp edge when the result of sleeping for twenty years like Rip Van Winkle would be safer than maintaining genuine operational readiness. Because only a fool or a madman would order the damn things to be used.
WASHINGTON — Top military officials were quick to voice outrage over revelations last week that 34 officers responsible for launching the nation’s nuclear missiles cheated on monthly proficiency tests, but few expressed surprise.
Cheating has been a fact of life among America’s nuclear launch officers for decades, crew members and instructors said. “When I saw that they got something wrong, I would say, ‘Go back and look at No. 5 again,'” said Brian Weeden, a former launch officer at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana who said that he routinely asked new crew members to show him their test answers before they turned them in.