By Tim McCaughan
(CNN) — Thirty-four U.S. Air Force officers in the nuclear force have been implicated in cheating on a proficiency test, the Pentagon said on Wednesday.
Cheating involving launch officers at the Global Strike Command at Malmstrom Air Force base in Montana was carried out by text message when one of those involved shared exam answers, officials said.
Sixteen were ultimately found to have actually cheated on the exam while the rest knew that the answers had been shared with others and did not report the violation. All have been “decertified.”
“This is absolutely unacceptable behavior and it is completely contrary to our core values in the Air Force and as everybody here knows the number one core value for us is integrity,” Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James told reporters.
There are approximately 190 officers overseeing readiness of nuclear weapons systems.
The Air Force said all officers in the command will be re-tested by the end of Thursday.
The scandal appears to be the largest of its kind affecting the nuclear command, and stemmed from a drug investigation that involved one of those caught up in cheating.
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