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The Air Force fires general in charge of its nuclear missiles

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Major General Carey
Major General Carey

The Air Force is reportedly firing a two-star general in charge of its nuclear missiles due to a "loss of trust and confidence." According to The Associated Press, Maj. General Michael Carey is being relieved of his command of the 20th Air Force, which is responsible for 450 nuclear missiles at three bases in the US. Beyond the "loss of trust and confidence," no specific reasons for the dismissal were given to the AP, who learned of the firing from anonymous government officials. However, the sources did indicate that the decision was made by Lt. General James Kowalski — the commander of the Air Force Global Strike Command and the man in charge of all Air Force nuclear weapons and bombers.

The dismissal comes at a time when the command of the US nuclear program appears to be in flux: Vice Admiral Tim Giardina of the US Navy, the number two officer at US Strategic Command (StratCom), was also relieved of his duties recently. At StratCom, Giardina was the number two in the organization which oversees the entire military's nuclear weapons and units. He had been the focus of a criminal investigation for using counterfeit gambling chips at a casino and remains under investigation by the Navy Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) while taking up a new, unspecified position within the Navy.

Carey, who has served the Air Force since 1978, has held his position as commander since June of 2012. He previously served in the US war on Iraq as well as operation "enduring freedom" — two key conflicts in the US war on terror. The Air Force hasn't yet confirmed Carey's dismissal, but we've reached out for more information and will update this post with any new details.

Update: The Air Force confirmed that it "relieved Maj. General Michael Carey from command of 20th Air Force today due to a loss of trust and confidence in his leadership and judgment." Lt. General Kowalski made the decision following an Inspector General investigation into Carey's behavior, but the Air Force notes that his dismissal is "not related to operational readiness or the inspection results of any 20th AF unit, nor do they involve sexual misconduct."

"20th AF continues to execute its mission of around-the-clock nuclear deterrence in a safe, secure and effective manner," Kowalski said in a statement. "It's unfortunate that I've had to relieve an officer who's had an otherwise distinctive career spanning 35 years of commendable service." Maj. General Jack Weinstein was named the 20th Air Force commander for the interim.