Two-Star in Charge of Nuclear Missiles Fired

By Brian Everstine and Jeff Schogol, Air Force Times

The Air Force fired the two-star general in charge of the service's nuclear missile fleet.

Maj. Gen. Michael Carey was removed from command of 20th Air Force for a "loss of trust and confidence" in his leadership and judgment, Global Strike Command announced Friday.

Lt. Gen. James Kowalski, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, decided to fire Carey following an inspector general's office investigation into "Carey's behavior during a temporary duty assignment," according to a command news release, which did not specify what Carey's behavior was.

"The allegations are not related to operational readiness or the inspection results of any 20th AF unit, nor do they involve sexual misconduct," the news release says.

A Global Strike Command spokeswoman declined to specify the behavior that led to Carey's firing.

"The Inspector General report is not complete so I can't provide additional details," Capt. Elizabeth Aptekar said in an email. "Additional information may be provided once the Inspector General report is complete."

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.


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