A number of airmen at the 90th Security Forces Group at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming, have been suspended from their duties and are awaiting the results of an investigation into allegations of marijuana use.
Air Force Global Strike Command on Monday said that an it is looking into the allegations, which were made against an undisclosed number of security forces members.
Security forces members at the 90th are responsible for law enforcement on the base, as well as protecting 15 nearby missile alert facilities and 150 Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs).
Gen. Timothy Ray, head of AFGSC, held a surprise call with leaders Monday to remind airmen they must adhere to service standard, including the strict no-drug policy outlined by the Defense Department.
"Our solemn duty is to protect this nation," Ray said, according to an AFGSC 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."
The Air Force said it would not disclose any further details while the investigation remains open.
It's not the first time illegal drug use has been reported within the nuclear missile community.
Between 2015 and 2016, members from the 90th Missile Wing, which operates one-third of the nation's 400 Minuteman missiles, were investigated for reported use of LSD, cocaine and other "mind-altering" drugs, according to a 2018 investigation by the Associated Press. Disciplinary action was taken against 14 airmen, many of them junior enlisted (E-2 to E-4); six went to courts-martial, and were convicted of drug use, distribution or both, the AP said.
In 2014, officials disclosed that an investigation was underway into alleged drug use on and off base, which led to the discovery of a cheating scandal involving "missileers" -- airmen who work in launch silos -- at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana. The airmen passed answers to a monthly proficiency test among themselves, an investigation found. The scandal led to widespread firings at Malmstrom, and extended to leadership at F.E. Warren and Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota.
More recently, the Air Force removed the commander of the 90th Security Forces Squadron at F. E. Warren in Sept. 2019 over a loss of confidence in his ability to maintain a healthy work environment.
"The Air Force values and encourages a positive work atmosphere where all airmen are treated with dignity and respect and cannot condone leadership actions that do not uphold these ideals," officials said in a news release accompanying the announcement.
The nature of the investigation has not been disclosed.
-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @oriana0214.