A retired general's mostly positive assessment of conditions inside the nuclear Air Force one year ago stands in contrast to the picture that has emerged since. Some examples of how the views differ:
—A 2013 study for the Pentagon, headed by Larry Welch, a retired Air Force general, said the nuclear missile and bomber forces are "professional, disciplined, committed and attentive to the special demands of the mission." The same month his group's report was published, an Air Force nuclear officer wrote in an internal email that the nuclear missile unit at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., suffered from "rot," including discipline problems.
—The Welch study found "positive results either delivered or promised" in several areas, including personnel. In recent weeks, following the discovery of widespread exam-cheating at one nuclear missile base, the Air Force has acknowledged systemic flaws in the personnel area, including problems with morale and discipline.
—The 2013 report found that morale had improved since 2010, while noting people's skepticism about Air Force promises of future improvements in the support required to carry out daily duties in the missile fields. An unpublished RAND Corp. report disclosed by The Associated Press last November found evidence of morale issues, including "burnout" among a sampling of missile launch control officers and junior members of the security force.