I was a nuclear missile operator. There have been more near-misses than the world knows
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Posted: March 20th, 2022
From 2012 to 2017, I worked as a US air force nuclear missile operator. Each time I descended into the missile silo, I had to be ready to launch, at a moment’s notice, a nuclear weapon that could wipe a city the size of New York off the face of the earth. I’m glad that people are finally discussing the existential dangers of nuclear weapons. There have been more near-misses than the world knows. After the end of the cold war, the general public allowed the threat of nuclear warfare to recede into the background. The threat simply didn’t feel real to new generations like it did to those who grew up huddling under their desks during nuclear attack drills. And the young crews who steward this nuclear arsenal today aren’t immune from the post-cold war malaise. In 2013, during my first year on crew, 11 ICBM officers were implicated in a drug scandal. The following year, 34 ICBM launch officers were implicated in a cheating scandal on their monthly proficiency exams. Deborah Lee James, the secretary of the air force at the time, said, “This was a failure of integrity on the part of some of our airmen. It was not a failure of our nuclear mission.” In this attempt to save face, Secretary James revealed a state of dissonance that every nuclear missile operator lives with. We are told, day in and day out, that our integrity is crucial to the deterrent value of nuclear weapons and helps make the world a safer place. But what man or woman of integrity could possibly launch a nuclear weapon? Life with nuclear weapons is not safer or more peaceful.
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