Shenanigans in Russia

Dec. 20, 2013: A recent report from the Inspector General of the Air Force found that Maj. Gen. Michael Carey, former commander of 20th Air Force, violated Article 133—conduct unbecoming an officer—during a trip to Russia in July.

According to the report, Carey, who was leading a US delegation of military and civilian nuclear security experts in Moscow for a joint nuclear security exercise with Russia, was repeatedly drunk and often rude during the trip.

While having drinks with his team in the executive lounge of the Marriott lobby on July 15, Carey boasted “of the importance of his position” and complained “that his group had the worst morale and that the leadership wasn’t supporting him,” according to a chronology of events included in the report.

Twentieth Air Force, headquartered at F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo., oversees the Air Force’s three Minuteman III ICBM wings, including Minot AFB’s 91st Missile Wing in North Dakota, which had come under heavy scrutiny after the Air Force relieved 19 launch control officers of their authority to control and launch Minuteman III nuclear missiles last spring following poor performance in one aspect of a consolidated unit inspection.

Carey and a civilian member of his team left the Marriott around midnight that night, heading to the Ritz Carlton where they “met two foreign national women.” Carey stayed out with the women all night, returning to his own hotel room as late as 5 a.m. Consequently, he was 45 minutes late to the initial briefing with the Russian Federation, states the report.

Once at the briefing, “Maj. Gen. Carey’s behavior [was] perceived by at least some of the US delegation as rude,” states the report.

During a lunch banquet on July 16, Carey made inappropriate comments about Syria and National Security Administration leaker Edward Snowden “that were not well received.” He then went on to announce “he had met two hot women the night before,” states the report.

During a tour of a local monastery, also on July 16, Carey was so drunk he was slurring his words, interrupting the tour guide, and even attempted to give the guide a “fist bump” at one point.

Other members of the delegation had to “keep checking” on Carey as they walked around the Red Square, which separates the royal citadel from the rest of Moscow, later that day because he kept lagging behind.

One witness described Carey as “pouting” and “sulking” over the day’s activities while another said, “he was not totally coherent” and didn’t have “all his faculties,” states the report.

Although Carey met up with the two women he originally met at the Ritz for a second time, he later turned their business cards into the Office of Special Investigations, saying he “had concerns.”

“When asked why he was concerned about the two women, Maj. Gen. Carey stated, ‘Well, it just seemed kind of peculiar that we saw them one night and then saw them again later while we were [at dinner the following night], and for people who are in business to be kinda [sic] conveniently in the same place where we’re at, it seemed odd to me,” states the report.

However, the report also notes that Carey still had drinks with the two women, even dancing with one at the restaurant, despite his alleged concerns.

Carey also grew suspicious of a woman from whom he purchased cigars at the Marriott, turning her card into OSI as well.

“I advised one of the officers [OSI] that you need to watch out for that because that’s just like our training says, you know, people are trolling for information,” said Carey, according to the report. He continued, “And, a tobacco store lady talking about physics in the wee hours of the morning doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. Most, uh, um, store venders are home trying to sleep for the next day.”

Air Force Global Strike Command boss Lt. Gen. James Kowalski relieved Carey of his duties as 20th AF commander in October, citing “loss of trust and confidence in his leadership and judgment.” He was later reassigned to Air Force Space Command headquarters.