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Report: U.S. nuclear general drank too much, misbehaved in Russia

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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Maj. Gen. Michael Carey oversaw three nuclear wings
  • During a trip to Russia in July, he showed up late for meetings and misbehaved
  • An Air Force Inspector General report sheds more light into the investigation
  • He was relieved of duty in October because of loss of confidence in his leadership

By Faith Karimi

A U.S. general who oversaw nuclear weapons boozed, fraternized with "hot women" and disrespected his hosts during an official visit to Russia this year, an investigative report shows.

Maj. Gen. Michael Carey led the 20th Air Force responsible for three nuclear wings.

He was relieved of duty in October because of loss of confidence in his leadership, the Air Force said at the time without providing specific details.

But an Air Force Inspector General report released Thursday sheds more light into the case.

It details the events of a July trip to Moscow in which witnesses recalled Carey drinking too much.

During a layover in Switzerland, the report states, he bragged loudly about his position as commander of a nuclear force, saying he "saves the world from war every day."

And the shenanigans continued in Moscow, according to the report.

Alcohol, comments flow

While there, Carey and an unidentified man walked to a nearby hotel to meet "two foreign national women." He returned to his Marriott hotel room in the wee hours of the morning.

As a result, Carey was 45 minutes late in joining a delegation to the Moscow suburb of Sergiyev Posad, according to the report. He attributed the tardiness to jet lag, and said his body clock was out of whack.

During a lunch banquet later, he downed more alcohol and talked about Syria and Edward Snowden, according to the report.

His Russian hosts did not seem amused by his comments, according to the report.

Russia granted Snowden, a former NSA contractor who released intelligence secrets, temporary asylum this year. Russia is also a major ally of Syria.

'Very embarrassing' fist bump

In addition, Carey announced he'd "met two hot women the night before," and continually interrupted a monastery guide during a tour, the report says, his speech slurred the entire time.

"At one point, he tried to give her (the guide) a fist bump," the report says, citing a witness. "She had no idea what he was trying to do. It was again, very, very embarrassing."

The names of the witnesses are redacted in the report.

During dinner at a Mexican restaurant, he drank more alcohol and wanted to perform with the live band, which wanted no part of it, the report says. He later left his delegation and joined the two women he'd met the night before at a different table.

Tardiness and interruptions

Other inappropriate behavior included arriving at events late despite his Russian hosts' request to be on time, and interrupting their toasts to make his own commentary.

His conduct was unbecoming of an officer, the report says.

The inspector general's office began its investigation after multiple "reports of misbehavior" while Carey was traveling on business. He was reassigned a few weeks ago pending the outcome of the investigation.

Otherwise distinctive career

Though his behavior did not impact highly sensitive nuclear weapons operations, officials said, it is unbecoming for a job in such a critical position.

"This was an unfortunate incident. Maj. Gen. Carey has otherwise served the nation extremely well," said Gen William Shelton, who heads the Air Force Space Command. "After full consideration of all the available information, I determined the evidence supported taking further command action in addition to his previous removal from command of 20th Air Force."

He was transferred to the Air Force space operation.

"I am confident Maj. Gen. Carey will use his depth of space expertise to assist my command in providing foundational space and cyberspace capabilities to the warfighter," Shelton said.

Leading the intercontinental nuclear ballistic missile facilities and operations is "a position of great trust and responsibility," said Lt. Gen James Kowalski, head of the Air Force Global Strike Command. "Personal behavior is vital to that."

The U.S. delegation was in Russia for a bilateral presidential commission on military issues.

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