The Air Force’s two star general in charge of the units responsible for its 450 nuclear missiles has been fired “due to a loss of trust and confidence in his leadership and judgment.”
Maj. Gen. Michael Carey has been removed from command of the 20th Air Force, according to an Air Force statement. That command is responsible for the three wings that maintain control of the 450 intercontinental ballistic missiles scattered in missile silos across the northern plains.
Lt. Gen. James Kowalski, the commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, made the decision because of what the statement said was a ”loss of trust and confidence.
The statement added that Kowalski made the decision to relieve Carey based on information from an Inspector General investigation into Carey’s behavior during a temporary duty assignment which is the military’s term for business travel. “The allegations are not related to operational readiness or the inspection results of any 20th AF unit, nor do they involve sexual misconduct,” said the statement. Carey has been reassigned to an undetermined job within the Air Force pending the results of the investigation.
“20th AF continues to execute its mission of around-the-clock nuclear deterrence in a safe, secure and effective manner,” Kowalski is quoted as saying in the statement. “It’s unfortunate that I’ve had to relieve an officer who’s had an otherwise distinctive career spanning 35 years of commendable service.”
Brigadier General Les Kodlick, the Air Force’s chief spokesman, said the ongoing Inspector General’s investigation had been triggered by “reports of personal misbehavior” during that temporary duty assignment.
Kodlick would not specifically reveal where the personal misbehavior may have occurred or may have consisted of though he said it did not involve criminal behavior.
Kowalski’s command is responsible for two-thirds of the nation’s nuclear triad, including Air Force nuclear missiles and long-range bombers.
Kodlick explained that personal behavior is important in nuclear commands because “it’s a position of great trust and responsibility.” He added that “the nuclear deterrence mission is one of great focus and discipline. Personal behavior is vital to that, especially from a commander.
Earlier this week President Obama relieved of command the number two officer at U.S. Strategic Command, which among other things oversees the military’s nuclear forces. Vice Admiral James Giardina had earlier been suspended from that command following a criminal probe into his potential use of counterfeit poker chips at an Iowa casino.
Obama became involved because only the president can relieve a three- and four-star officer from his post. Giardina has been reassigned to an undetermined position within the Navy.
The Air Force statement indicated that the move was unrelated to the inspection results of the 20th Air Force.
Earlier this year, two of the three missile wings under Carey’s command received unsatisfactory ratings in regular annual inspections.
In August, the 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, failed its third inspection in five years.
In May ,the 91st Missile wing at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota suspended 19 missile officers for retraining after that unit received an unsatisfactory rating for one aspect of its inspection.