The two-star general in charge of the Air Force’s intercontinental ballistic missile fleet was repeatedly drunk and exhibited boorish behavior during an official visit to Russia this past summer, an Air Force investigation has concluded.
Maj. Gen. Michael Carey was relieved of his command of the 20th Air Force this past October for a “loss of confidence” while the Air Force’s Inspector General investigated allegations of unspecified personal misconduct during the trip.
According to a redacted copy of the investigation’s final report released today, the inspector general concluded that his behavior during the trip to Russia “exceeded the limits of accepted standards of good conduct and behavior.”
Because of the report’s conclusions, Carey received a “letter of counseling” and is currently serving as a special assistant to the commander of the Air Force’s Space Command, Gen. William Shelton.
In a statement, Shelton said Carey’s behavior during the trip “was an unfortunate incident” and that “Major General Carey has otherwise served the nation extremely well.” However, he determined that “further command action” was needed in addition to Carey’s removal from command of the 20th Air Force. That unit oversees the three Air Force wings that control the nation’s 450 ICBM’s that are scattered in missile silos across the northern plain states.
In mid-July, Carey headed an official delegation to Moscow as part of a nuclear security training exercise with Russian military counterparts.
The other members of the delegation interviewed for the Air Force investigation said that throughout the four-day exercise Carey consumed alcohol regularly. They said Carey slurred his speech during meetings and at one point “needed assistance standing.”
Carey was also late for meetings and investigators concluded that Carey was “frequently rude to both his fellow delegates and to his Russian hosts during the exercise and briefings.” During one meeting he made comments about Syria and Edward Snowden that seemed to bother the Russians, witnesses said.
During one luncheon a witness described Carey as having become inebriated during a round of successive toasts. At one point Carey “announced that the reason he had been late [that] morning was that he had met two hot women at the bar the night before.”
Other members of the delegation raised questions about Carey’s interactions with two “foreign national women” over several nights at various Moscow night spots. The women — one Russian, another British — said they worked for a British executive travel agency, according to the report.
Carey told investigators he was suspicious as to why the women hung out with him during the trip and upon his return he turned their business cards over to the Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations.
The inspector general concluded that Carey “engaged in inappropriate or improper behavior when he chose to meet up with and continued to associate with the foreign national women … given his own acknowledgement that the women were suspect.”
Carey told investigators that no one on his delegation had raised questions about his behavior during the trip. Yet, quotes from the other members of the delegation given to investigators show how aghast they were at his behavior.
One said “I wanted to crawl under the table,” another recalled “the Russians were looking at him like “are you crazy.”
One of the witnessed said of Carey’s behavior, “I’ve never been more embarrassed professionally in my life with a senior member.” Still another recalled thinking “when the conference was done and we were in the airplane I didn’t want to have anything to do with him.”