US general went on drunken bender in Russia: officials

WASHINGTON (AFP) - A US general recently lost his job in charge of nuclear missiles after he went on a drunken bender in Russia, where he insulted his hosts and cavorted with "suspect" women, officials said Friday.

Air Force Major General Michael Carey was sacked in October as commander of the military's land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, over what officials at the time called "personal misbehavior." Now the details of that misbehavior have been revealed in embarrassing detail by the Air Force inspector general, which released the results of its investigation into Carey's conduct in a July trip to Russia.

The two-star general was drunk through much of his official four-day visit to Russia, and his "inappropriate behavior" prompted a female Pentagon employee to file a complaint, the report said. Carey "acted in a manner that exceeded the limits of accepted standards of good conduct" during the trip that included a nuclear security exercise and meetings with Russian officials, according to the investigation.

The general began drinking during a stop in Zurich and kept drinking over three days in Moscow, showing up late for motorcades to meet Russian representatives, interrupting tour guides, slurring his speech and returning to his hotel room in the early morning hours, the report said.

During the stopover in Zurich, Carey - apparently intoxicated - spoke loudly in a public area about his importance as commander of a nuclear force and "that he saves the world from war every day," investigators said.

Once in Moscow at a Marriott hotel, the general said over drinks that his unit "had the worst morale and that the leadership wasn't supporting him," it said. He and other delegation members had drinks with two foreign women two nights in a row, with Carey dancing with one of them.

The general later told investigators that the two women were "suspect" as "it seemed odd" that they were always showing up at the same location as the American delegation. Apart from being sacked from his job as commander of the 20th Air Force, Carey received a "letter of counseling" for his actions, an Air Force official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP on Friday.

The episode marks the latest setback for the US military's nuclear forces, which has faced reports of persistent morale problems and mixed results from inspections.

In his former job as commander of the 20th Air Force, Carey was responsible for 450 Minuteman missiles across five states and 9,600 troops that maintain the weapons.

Carey is now assigned as a special assistant to the commander of Air Force Space Command and is no longer overseeing nuclear missiles.

General William Shelton, the chief of the Air Force's Space Command, said in a statement that it was "an unfortunate incident" and that Carey "has otherwise served the nation extremely well."