WASHINGTON — The Air Force said Friday it fired the two-star general in charge of its nuclear missiles in response to an investigation into alleged personal misbehavior. It was the second sacking this week of a senior commander of nuclear forces.
Maj. Gen. Michael Carey was removed from command of the 20th Air Force, which is responsible for three wings of intercontinental ballistic missiles — a total of 450 missiles at three bases across the country, according to an Air Force spokesman, Brig. Gen. Les Kodlick.
The decision was made by Lt. Gen. James Kowalski, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command. Kowalski is in charge of all Air Force nuclear weapons, including bombers. On Wednesday, the second-in-command at U.S. Strategic Command, Vice Adm. Tim Giardina, was relieved of command amid an investigation into alleged gambling issues. Strategic Command is responsible for all Air Force and Navy nuclear forces.
"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 a written statement from his headquarters at Barksdale Air Force Base, La.
An internal email obtained by the AP on Friday said the allegations against Carey stem from an inspector general probe of his behavior while on an unspecified "temporary duty assignment." The email said the allegations are not related to the operational readiness of the ICBM force or recent failed inspections of ICBM units.
Kodlick said the investigation is not yet completed. He would not provide details about the alleged misbehavior by Carey except to say it does not involve sexual misconduct.
At a Pentagon news conference, Kodlick was asked whether Carey's dismissal was alcohol-related. He did not respond directly but said Carey is not an alcoholic.
Kowalski has selected the vice commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, Maj. Gen. Jack Weinstein, to temporarily replace Carey as head of 20th Air Force.
Carey began his Air Force career in the enlisted ranks in 1978. He was commissioned as an officer in 1983 and is a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He took command of the ICBM force, based at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., in June 2012.