Maj. Gen. Michael Carey (Air Force)
The Air Force fired the two-star general in charge of the service’s nuclear missile fleet following an incident of “personal misbehavior” that occurred several months ago officials said.
Maj. Gen. Michael Carey was removed from command of 20th Air Force and its 450 intercontinental ballistic missiles due to a “loss of trust and confidence” in his leadership and judgment, Air Force Global Strike Command announced Friday.
Lt. Gen. James Kowalski, commander of Global Strike Command, decided to fire Carey following an inspector general’s investigation into Carey’s “personal misbehavior” during a temporary duty assignment this summer, Air Force spokesman Brig. Gen. Les Kodlick told reporters during a briefing Friday.
Kodlick declined to provide details of the incident other than to say it did not involve sexual misconduct, drugs or gambling. Kodlick would not, however, rule out alcohol as a factor in the personal misconduct. Kowalski received “reports” of personal misbehavior from other service members who were traveling with Carey on the TDY trip, which he passed along to the IG, Kodlick said.
“They had to wait for the investigation to see what actually occurred,” Kodlick said.
Carey was notified and interviewed as part of the investigation, Air Force officials said.
After the formal completion of the IG investigation, senior commanders will determine if Carey will face any further disciplinary action or possible court-martial, Kodlick said. Carey has been temporarily reassigned pending the outcome of the investigation.
Kodlick declined to provide any information about the location or nature of the temporary duty assignment that Carey was on when the incident occurred.
“The allegations are not related to operational readiness or the inspection results of any 20th AF unit, nor do they involve sexual misconduct,” Kodlick said.
In addition to commanding 20th Air Force, Carey also served as commander of Task Force 214, U.S. Strategic Command at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo. He oversaw three operational wings of more than 9,600 people with control over 450 intercontinental ballistic missiles.
“It’s unfortunate that I’ve had to relieve an officer who’s had an otherwise distinctive career spanning 35 years of commendable service,” Kowalski said in the news release.
Maj. Gen. Jack Weinstein, vice commander of Global Strike Command, will serve as 20th Air Force’s interim commander, the news release says.
The firing comes after months of controversies in the Air Force’s nuclear mission. In May, officials at the 91st Missile Wing at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., sidelined 19 missile officers after the wing was rated “unsatisfactory” in one part of a consolidated unit inspection. The wing passed the overall inspection, but the sidelined officers were forced to retrain and faced additional inspections.
In August, the 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom Air Force base, Mont., failed a nuclear surety inspection. Col. David Lynch, commander of the 341st Security Forces Group, was relieved of the command following the inspection “due to a loss of confidence in Lynch’s ability to lead his group,” the Air Force said.
Air Force Global Strike Command and U.S. Strategic Command spent the summer sending inspection teams to ICBM bases and studying morale of the airmen stationed at the missile wings.
On Sept. 4, Carey and a team of experts from the three missile wings were called to the Pentagon to update Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh on a “quick look” study on the ICBM force and Carey’s actions to mitigate stress on nuclear officers.
Welsh “has personally reviewed proposals to implement new forms of recognition, and is considering Air Force policy changes that underscore his commitment to 20th Air Force Airmen and the significance of our mission,” Carey said in a news release on the visit.
Welsh and acting Air Force Secretary Eric Fanning declined to comment on the firing.
Carey, who enlisted in the Air Force in 1978, came up as a satellite operations officer and previously served as deputy director of command, control and nuclear operations for the joint staff at the Pentagon.