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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

US NUCLEAR FORCE FACES A CASCADE OF MISSTEPS

US NUCLEAR FORCE FACES A CASCADE OF MISSTEPS BY ROBERT BURNS 
AP NATIONAL SECURITY WRITER WASHINGTON (AP) -- First it was bad attitudes among young officers in nuclear missile launch centers. Now it's alleged bad behavior by two of the nuclear arsenal's top commanders. Together the missteps spell trouble for a nuclear force doubted by some for its relevance, defended by others as vital to national security and now compelled to explain how the firing of key commanders this week should not shake public confidence. The Air Force on Friday fired Maj. Gen. Michael Carey, who was in charge of its nuclear missiles. Two days earlier the Navy sacked Vice Adm. Tim Giardina, the second-in-command at U.S. Strategic Command, which writes the military's nuclear war plans and would transmit launch orders should the nation ever go to nuclear war. In an Associated Press interview Friday, the nation's most senior nuclear commander, Air Force Gen. Robert Kehler, said he told his bosses, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and the Joint Chiefs chairman, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, that despite the two "unfortunate behavioral incidents," the nuclear force is stable. "I still have 100 percent confidence that the nation's nuclear deterrent force is safe, secure and effective," Kehler said from his Strategic Command headquarters in Nebraska. Together, the Carey and Giardina dismissals add a new dimension to a set of serious problems facing the military's nuclear force. The decision to sack Carey was made by Lt. Gen. James Kowalski, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, which is in charge of all Air Force nuclear weapons, including bombers. The case appears to be unrelated to that of Giardina, but the two men are associated in the chain of responsibility for U.S. nuclear weapons. Carey did not report directly to Giardina, but the ICBMs under Carey's command would, in the event of war, receive their launch commands through Strategic Command, where Giardina had been the deputy commander since December 2011. By coincidence, Kowalski, who fired Carey, has been nominated to succeed Giardina at Strategic Command. The Senate has not yet confirmed Kowalski. http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_NUCLEAR_MISSTEPS?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

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