WASHINGTON — The Air Force fired the general in charge of its nuclear missiles Friday, just two days after a Navy admiral with top nuclear weapons responsibilities was sacked. Both men are caught up in investigations of alleged personal misconduct, adding to a cascade of turmoil inside the nation’s nuclear weapons force.
The Air Force removed Maj. Gen. Michael Carey, a 35-year veteran, from his command of 20th Air Force, responsible for all 450 of the service’s intercontinental ballistic missiles. Carey, who took his post in Wyoming in June 2012, will be reassigned pending the outcome of an investigation into personal misbehavior, the service said.
The Air Force would not specify what Carey is alleged to have done wrong, but two officials with knowledge of the investigation indicated that it was linked to alcohol use.
They said it was not related to the performance or combat readiness of ICBM units or to his stewardship of the force.
On Wednesday the Navy said Vice Adm. Tim Giardina, the second-in-charge at U.S. Strategic Command, was fired amid an investigation of gambling issues. He was demoted from three- to two-star rank and reassigned to a Navy staff job until the investigation is completed.
Together, the Carey and Giardina firings add a new dimension to a set of serious problems facing the military’s nuclear force. The ICBM segment in particular has had several recent setbacks, including a failed safety and security inspection at a base in Montana in August, followed by the firing of the colonel there in charge of security forces.
Air Force Gen. Robert Kehler, the nation’s most senior nuclear commander as head of U.S. Strategic Command, called the Carey and Giardina matters “unfortunate behavioral incidents,” but he would not discuss details.