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AP was given special access inside an American nuclear missile command center and found antiquated equipment supporting the ...
nation's deadliest weapons - adding to problems plaguing the Air Force that include low morale and security lapses. (July 8)
Tags:ap,AP News,Associated Press,air force base,Andy Parthum,Brian Weeden,david frost,Jack Weinstein,Rob VercherAP
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SHOTLIST:AP TELEVISION - AP CLIENTS ONLYMinot Air Force Base, North Dakota - 24 June 20141. Wide aerial over missile fields 2. Wide aerial over missile fields with support helicopter3. Nat sound,elevator door shutting4. Mid, elevator descending5. Mid, blast door opening6. Mid, launch control center crew and reportersAP TELEVISION - AP CLIENTS ONLYMinot Air Force Base, North Dakota - 25 June 20147. Medium of test missileAP TELEVISION - AP CLIENTS ONLYMinot Air Force Base, North Dakota - 24 June 20148. Various, launch control center crew9. SOUNDBITE: 1st Lt. Andy Parthum, U.S. Air Force missileer: (Transcript below)10. Medium of airmen at change-of command ceremony11. Wide of airmen and stage12. GraphicAP TELEVISION - AP CLIENTS ONLYWashington - 1 July 201413. SOUNDBITE: Brian Weeden, former Air Force nuclear officer (Transcript below)14. Mid, Brian Weeden walking15. Wide of Brian Weeden sitting16. SOUNDBITE: Brian Weeden, former Air Force nuclear officer (Transcript below)AP TELEVISION - AP CLIENTS ONLYMinot Air Force Base, North Dakota - 24 June 201417. Wide of Maj. Gen. Jack Weinstein and Col. Rob VercherAP TELEVISION - AP CLIENTS ONLYMinot Air Force Base, North Dakota - 25 June 201418. SOUNDBITE: Maj. Gen. Jack Weinstein, 20th Air Force commander (Transcript below)AP TELEVISION - AP CLIENTS ONLYMinot Air Force Base, North Dakota - 24 June 201419. Wide of Air Force vehiclesAP TELEVISION - AP CLIENTS ONLYMinot Air Force Base, North Dakota - 25 June 201420. Various, workers examining test missile21. Tight of helicopter rotor22. Wide of helicopter picking up crew23. Medium of helicopter flying overhead24. Medium of test missileAP TELEVISION - AP CLIENTS ONLYMinot Air Force Base, North Dakota - 24 June 201425. Wide aerial of missile silo in distanceAP TELEVISION - AP CLIENTS ONLYMinot Air Force Base, North Dakota - 25 June 201426. Medium of test missile27. SOUNDBITE: Staff Sgt. David Frost, U.S. Air Force (Transcript below)AP TELEVISION - AP CLIENTS ONLYMinot Air Force Base, North Dakota - 25 June 201428. Tight of launch control center crew29. Medium of launch control center crew30. Tight of patch on chair31. Medium of gate closingVOICE-OVER SCRIPT:BURIED DEEP BENEATH THE LUSH NORTH DAKOTA COUNTRYSIDE THE CONTROLS TO THE NATION'S DEADLIEST WEAPONS.HERE AT MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, THERE ARE FIFTEEN LAUNCH CONTROL CENTERS RESPONSIBLE FOR 150 NUCLEAR MISSILES.THE CENTERS ARE MANNED IN 24-HOUR SHIFTS BY OFFICERS TYPICALLY IN THEIR 20s_ AWAITING A PRESIDENTIAL ORDER TO LAUNCH.SOUNDBITE: First Lt. Andy Parthum, U.S. Air Force missileer "Every single day, you sign for control of ten of the most powerful weapons known to mankind, in the history of mankind, to be honest." THE AIR FORCE SAYS THE NUCLEAR MISSION IS ITS TOP PRIORITY.....BUT IT'S ONE STRUGGLING WITH SEVERAL ISSUES. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS HAS REVEALED PROBLEMS WITH DISCIPLINE, CHEATING ON READINESS TESTS, SECURITY, LOW MORALE -- SIGNS OF A POST- COLD WAR NUCLEAR AIR FORCE IN DISARRAY SOUNDBITE: Brian Weeden, former Air Force nuclear officer"The worst thing for morale was probably the micromanagement."BRIAN WEEDEN SPENT FIVE YEARS AS A MISSILEER, AS THE LAUNCH OFFICERS ARE CALLED. THERE WERE HUGE EXPECTATIONS AND A CULTURE OF PERFECTION.SOUNDBITE: Brian Weeden, former Air Force nuclear officer"To have your every single action scrutinized and minutely controlled by a squadron commander at the same time. That was much more of a negative impact on the experience than just the stress by itself."THE TWO-STAR GENERAL WHO COMMANDS THE NUCLEAR MISSILE FORCE AGREES, AND WANTS TO CHANGE THINGS FOR TODAY'S AIRMEN. SOUNDBITE: Maj. Gen. Jack Weinstein, commander, 20th Air Force"... problem that we truly had was they weren't allowed to do their mission. You can't tell people they're important, that they're doing a nationally significant job and at the same time you take away basic responsibilities they have."THE AIR FORCE IS NOW POURING MONEY AND PERSONNEL INTO FIXING SOME OF THE PROBLEMS, WHICH INCLUDE AGING INFRASTRUCTURE. THE NUCLEAR-TIPPED MISSILES, LIKE THIS MAINTENANCE TRAINING VERSION, HAVE BEEN UPDATED OVER THE YEARSAND KEPT READY TO GO ON SHORT NOTICEBUT THE SUPPORTING EQUIPMENT IS, SIMPLY, OLD -- IN AND OUT OF THE BUNKERS. LIKE THE HUEY HELICOPTERS USED TO FERRY SECURITY PERSONNEL AROUND MINOT'S MISSILE FIELDS. THEY DATE TO THE VIETNAM WAR. AND UNDER CURRENT PLANS, WILL LIKELY KEEP FLYING THROUGH THE DECADE.UNDERGROUND, EACH MISSILE, KNOWN AS A "BIG STICK", STANDS READYFUELED AND PRIMED IN SILOS ACROSS THE PRAIRIE.FOR SOME THE ALLURE OF WORKING WITH NUCLEAR WEAPONS IS ALWAYS THERE.SOUNDBITE: Staff Sgt. David Frost, U.S. Air Force"The very first time I did this job, it was so awe-inspiring to see that nuclear component sitting right there and that I'm fortunate enough to be working on it. That has never changed." WHILE MISSILEERS WAIT FOR A LAUNCH COMMAND THAT'S NEVER BEEN GIVEN.THEY RELY ON SOME DARK HUMOR TO KEEP THEM AMUSED. THE PATCH ON THE COMMANDER'S CHAIR SAYS "PARTY TIL YOU NUKE."SAGAR MEGHANI, ASSOCIATED PRESS, MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, NORTH DAKOTA.