Tuesday, January 07, 2014

You know those mysterious firings of high ranking military officers?

This one is not so mysterious.

But just months later, Carey was disgraced. In October the Air Force fired him. Officials offered no details, saying only that the dismissal involved personal conduct. "The nuclear deterrence mission is one of great focus, discipline," Air Force spokesman Brig. Gen. Les Kodlick told the press. "Personal behavior is vital to that, especially from a commander."

Then, just before Christmas—a good time to bury this kind of unfortunate news—the Air Force released a detailed but redacted report detailing why Carey was fired. The report says he engaged in "inappropriate behavior" while on official business in Russia last summer, including heavy drinking and associating with "suspect women." And the details get much more sordid.

The report chronicles the binge day by day, and can be read in its entirety here. Members of a delegation reported that Carey was drunk virtually the entire trip, insulted the Russians with his comments and tardiness, tried to convince bar staff to allow him on stage to play guitar, and went out drinking with women he met in Moscow. No one testified that Carey was ever alone with the women. But the inference that he was drunk and talking about his work was enough to cast a deeper pall over the behavior. It's no secret that in Russia, attractive women and men have long been the route to spy on or blackmail American officials.

The women knew Gen. Carey was a big shot in the national security world because he told them so, according to members of the delegation. That sort of indiscretion sends up red flags in the Air Force's Office of Special Investigations (OSI). Carey himself submitted to the OSI the card of one woman he met who was working in his hotel's cigar shop, commenting on her suspicious nature: "A tobacco store lady talking about physics in the wee hours of the morning doesn't make a whole lot of sense."


According to the report, a booze-addled Carey was speaking loudly in a hotel lounge during the first night in Moscow about how he is "saving the world." Carey hit some of these notes in his final interview here at Popular Mechanics. "We keep a lid on World War III," Carey said then. "And for less than $5 billion a year. The U.S. Postal Service lost three times that in 2012."

When the General allegedly proclaims his importance while drinking, it can be a reflection of the insecurities of the larger force. Indeed, ICBM professionals often point out that they are underappreciated. During his PopMech interview, Cary also lamented the lack of attention and appreciation given to the missile launch crews and maintainers. "We use our missiles every day, but we don't launch them," he said. "The people who know this are our possible adversaries. The people who don't happen to be the same people who benefit the most from our existence."

During the Moscow trip, Carey also discussed low morale within his service and his attempts to raise it. "[A] Witness stated Maj. Gen. Carey was talking about the importance of his position and that his group had the worst morale and that the leadership wasn't supporting him." 

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