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Fired nuke commander drank heavily, was rude in Russia: Air Force report

Maj. Gen. Michael J. Carey who investigators say engaged in "inappropriate behavior" while in Russia, including heavy drinking rudeness to his hosts.Uncredited / AP

The fired former commander of the Air Force’s arsenal of ballistic missiles drank too much, had “associations” with foreign women and made rude comments to his hosts during a visit to Russia for military exercises, an inspector general’s report revealed on Thursday.

Military officials had earlier said that Maj. Gen. Michael Carey was relieved of his command for “personal misbehavior” during an overseas trip, but the Air Force Inspector General’s report provides additional details about his misconduct.

The report said Carey was found guilty of conduct unbecoming an officer and gentlemen, a violation of the military’s code of justice, for his behavior while leading a U.S. delegation to a nuclear training exercise in Russia in mid-July.

He was frequently rude to his Russian hosts and others, and that he associated with foreign national women whom Carey acknowledged were “suspect,” the report said.

The report, citing witnesses, describes Carey meeting with "foreign national women" on July 15 at the Ritz Carlton in Moscow after a night of heavy drinking, and then returning to his hotel, the Marriott, at between 2:30 a.m. and 5:30 a.m. 

Two days later, during an initial briefing with Russian counterparts, Carey was described as being "rude by interrupting the speakers and correcting the Russian translator." He later had drinks in the lobby of the Marriott until 4 a.m. with another person whose name was redacted and the "Cigar Shop Lady," according to the report.

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In response to the findings, he received a “letter of counseling,” a form of discipline for misbehavior that is not considered criminal in nature.

Gen. James Kowalski, the commander of the Air Force Global Strike Command, made the decision to relieve Carey of his command in October. An Air Force statement from then said he was fired for “a loss of trust and confidence in his leadership and judgment.”

The statement went on to say that “the allegations are not related to operational readiness, inspection results, nor do they involve sexual misconduct.”

Another top-ranking commander with authority over nuclear weapons was also fired in October: Navy Vice Adm. Tim Giardina was demoted from the three-star rank to two and relieved of his post as second in command of U.S. nuclear forces at U.S. Strategic Command amidst a gambling investigation, the Associated Press reported.

Chief Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Related:

Air Force general in charge of nuclear weapons removed for lack of trust: defense officials