Anyone in the U.S. military with any connection to nuclear weapons is required to pass the Personnel Reliability Program. Donald Trump would most likely flunk it.
In his recent New Yorker article, “How Trump Could Get Fired,” Evan Osnos notes that,
..If Trump were an officer in the Air Force, with any connection to nuclear weapons, he would need to pass the Personnel Reliability Program [PRP], which includes thirty-seven questions about financial history, emotional volatility, and physical health.
The US Department of Defense established the PRP specificially for nuclear weapons during the Cold War. According to DOD:
[The PRP is a] security, medical and psychological evaluation program designed to permit only the most trustworthy individuals to have access to nuclear weapons, chemical weapons and biological weapons.
…Only those personnel who have demonstrated the highest degree of individual reliability for allegiance, trustworthiness, conduct, behavior, and responsibility shall be allowed to perform duties associated with nuclear weapons, and they shall be continuously evaluated for adherence to PRP standards.
The PRP evaluates many aspects of the individual’s work life and home life. Any disruption of these, or severe deviation from an established norm would be cause to deny access. The denial might be temporary or permanent.
PRP has many requirements for clearance. Here are the ones that would probably make Trump questionable:
–Be dependable and mentally alert. [Res ipse dixit.]
For his article, Osnos interviewed Bruce Blair, a research scholar at the Program on Science and Global Security, at Princeton:
[Blair] told me that if Trump were an officer in the Air Force, with any connection to nuclear weapons, he would need to pass the Personnel Reliability Program, which includes thirty-seven questions about financial history, emotional volatility, and physical health. (Question No. 28: Do you often lose your temper?)
“There’s no doubt in my mind that Trump would never pass muster,” Blair, who was a ballistic-missile launch-control officer in the Army, told me. “Any of us that had our hands anywhere near nuclear weapons had to pass the system. If you were having any arguments, or were in financial trouble, that was a problem. For all we know, Trump is on the brink of that.
But here’s the kicker: The President is exempt from the PRP. He has already threatened North Korea, and he has the ultimate deciding vote on when to launch. Be afraid.