Military removes commander of nuclear weapons unit

MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. — The Air Force has removed the commander of a nuclear weapons unit at a Montana base following a failed safety and security inspection that marked the second major misstep this year for one of the military’s most sensitive missions.

Military leaders say the decision to relieve Col. David Lynch of command at Malmstrom Air Force Base stems from a loss of confidence. They say it is not the result of the failed inspection this month first reported by The Associated Press on Aug. 13.

Lynch will transition into retirement, base spokesman Sgt. Robert Biermann said Sunday. Lynch’s command included the 341st Missile Wing, which operates land-based nuclear missiles known as 450 Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missiles. The unit failed a review of its adherence to rules that ensure the safety, security and control of its nuclear weapons.

This is the second time in recent months that an Air Force nuclear commander was replaced following a high-profile security problem.

Lt. Col. Randy Olson was relieved of duty at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., in June. The AP first reported an unprecedented sidelining of 17 launch officers there in May following an exceptionally poor review in the spring.

The 341st Security Forces Group, which Lynch had led since June 2012, has more than 1,200 personnel members and four squadrons. It provides security for the 341st Missile Wing, 15 launch control centers and 150 nuclear missile silos in a huge area of central Montana.

The decision to remove Lynch was announced in a statement Friday. There is no timeline for selecting his replacement, however, Col. John Wilcox, Air Force Global Strike Command Security Forces Division director, will take over on an interim basis.

Base commander Col. Robert Stanley was not available for comment.

More in Local News

Designed for special emergencies, texting 911 widely misused

The majority of texts dispatchers receive are better handled by calling, a SNOPAC official says.

Signs show the rates for using the express toll lanes for traffic headed southbound on Interstate 405, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016, in Bothell, Wash. Gov. Jay Inslee announced plans Tuesday to try to decrease congestion on I-405 in answer to commuter complaints that the new express lane tolling system is making traffic worse. The governor said he would not be shutting down the tolling system as some people have called for. But the state transportation department is making plans to add new northbound general purpose lanes to ease some of the congestion and also plan to make it easier to move into and out of the express lanes. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
After a 2-year trial, are I-405’s toll lanes here to stay?

Lawmakers will decide whether to keep them or end the experiment and try something else.

Weary drivers using toll lanes say they have little choice

Congestion continues to be a tedious reality for commuters on I-405, which is as clogged as ever.

Arlington woman dies 4 days after Marysville crash

She was on the northbound onramp from Fourth Street to I-5 when her pickup hit a tree and fence.

Council passes six-month moratorium on safe injection sites

Proposal by County Councilman Nate Nehring passed unanimously.

Terrace woman held following collision in Everett

The three occupants in vehicle were transported to a local hospital in serious condition.

Information sought on drive-by shooting in Everett

Debris from an apparent crash, evidence of gunfire found in the 2800 block of California Street.

Longboarders from near and far hit the trail in Arlington

The Centennial Sk8 Festival was serious competition for some and just for fun for others.

Everett’s lawsuit against maker of OxyContin can proceed

Purdue Pharma says it’s not liable for the impacts of opioid addiction and wanted the case tossed.

Most Read