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Second Nuke Commander This Week Canned

Posted by Colin Clark on


Pentagon & beyond - view of DC over river - 032113-Pentagon-fullPENTAGON: A second senior nuclear commander in a week has been relieved of his post today.

Maj. Gen. Michael Carey, deputy commander of the 20th Air Force, was fired after “a loss of trust and confidence in his leadership and judgment,” the Air Force said in a statement.

Carey is the deputy commander responsible for nuclear ICBMs.

The action was prompted by an Inspector General’s investigation into his behavior on an assignment and didn’t have anything to do with nuclear weapons.

Carey joins the deputy commander of U.S. nuclear forces, Vice Adm. Tim Giardina, in this extraordinary week.

Giardina was relieved Wednesday of duty amid a military investigation of allegations that he used counterfeit chips at an Iowa casino. His removal is much more serious than Carey’s. The Air Force general did not have operational command of the nuclear force, as did the admiral.

When the AP reported Giardina’s dismissal, my colleague Bob Burns noted: “The move is exceedingly rare and perhaps unprecedented in the history of U.S. Strategic Command, which is responsible for all American nuclear warfighting forces, including nuclear-armed submarines, bombers and land-based missiles.” Giardina’s security clearance was suspended, meaning he could not perform his duties at Strategic Command.

For those who may want to take these efforts as proof that our nuclear force remains ill disciplined and slipshod, I would argue the opposite. The system apparently worked. Character flaws or worrying behavioral trends were spotted and the men were stripped of command. That’s how it should work. Now if only this had happened on a regular basis during the Iraq and Afghan wars.

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