The memo was made public within the last couple of hours, but it was issued soon after the news broke that trigger fuses for the Minuteman ICBM were mistakenly sent to Taiwan in place of aircraft parts - because they are so easily confused with your every-day helicopter battery. Shoot, they sit right there on the shelf next to one another...[/snark]
This action amounts to a de facto stand down of a significant portion of the Air Force, and frankly, that isn't happening a moment too soon.
The inventory review, which will involve thousands of items, is due to Gates in 60 days. Pentagon officials said the request was ordered, in part, because this latest incident comes after the August 2007 accidental flight of six nuclear-tipped cruise missiles on a B-52 bomber across the country.
"At a minimum, your report should include the results of the inventory and your personal assessment of the adequacy of your respective department or agency's positive inventory control policies and procedures," Gates said in the memo.
Four officers --- including three colonels -- were relieved of duty last year after a B-52 bomber mistakenly carried six nuclear warheads from North Dakota to Louisiana, the Air Force said.A six-week investigation uncovered a "lackadaisical" attention to detail in day-to-day operations at the bases involved in the incident, an Air Force report said.