Air Force Officers Stripped of Power to Launch Nukes

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A self-described 'crisis' in the ranks has hit a U.S. Air Force unit charged with the command and control of the nation's nuclear missiles.

Missteps have forced the Air Force to strip 17 officers of their authority to control or launch missiles.

"We are, in fact, in a crisis right now," Lt. Col. Jay Fields, the group's commander, said in an internal email obtained by The Associated Press.

The email also described a culture of indifference -- and at least one intentional violation of missile safety rules.

The first signs of trouble came in March at an inspection of North Dakota's 91st Missile Wing at Minot Air Force Base.

The Air Force publicly called it a "success," but it actually earned the equivalent of a "D'' grade.

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