Air Force General Gone Wild

Our podcast “Government Employees Gone Wild” was about The Encyclopedia of Ethical Failure, a guide published by the U.S. Department of Defense that details the true stories of big screw-ups by government employees. We are guessing that this story of Air Force general Michael Carey‘s trip to Moscow will make it into next year’s edition. From The Washington Post:

The Air Force has just released its official report on its investigation into Maj. Gen. Michael Carey’s July trip to Moscow, which got him fired in October. Carey oversaw three wings of nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missiles, with 450 ICBMs in all. At the time, the dismissal was reportedly over personal misconduct during the official trip. But “misconduct,” it turns out, does not even come close.

The 42-page report is a doozy. It describes Carey as drinking heavily, spending an awful lot of time with two foreign women (a possible security risk), skipping meetings, complaining, offending the Russian hosts, at one point trying to perform with a band at a Moscow bar called La Cantina and generally acting a bit like a college kid on a semester abroad. The drinking got so bad that, according to the report, “one witness was concerned that Maj. Gen Carey needed assistance standing.” As a bonus, the report mentions Carey’s impolitic comments about “Eric Snowden.”

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  1. sober says:

    It is sad that people travelling with him felt the need to report this issue after it had happened but lacked the fortitude to confront the behavior before it got out of hand. I thought the US military was supposed to be full of brave people.

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    • Felix says:

      It is sad that those without knowledge comment on the things they know nothing of. How do you know his associates didn’t try to stop him? Do you know anything of military culture, and how much some high-ranking officers object to anything approaching insubordination> How do you know the general’s associates hadn’t tried to correct his behavior on previous trips and learned the hard way that it would ruin their career?

      My experience, yes in the military, is that there are a lot of individuals who show increasing signs of irresponsible behavior as they climb the ranks, and it does no good to try to correct their behavior, unless you want assignment to Adak Alaska. Eventually they rise high enough that their behavior becomes obvious even to the superiors they try to hide it from.

      Whether that is the case here, neither you nor I know.

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      • NZ says:

        We really should blame the messenger. The journalist reporting on this didn’t provide enough information, so we’re all left to jump to conclusions, often without first-hand military experience to fall back on.

        The article excerpted above was written by Max Fisher, whom the WaPo describes as a “Worldviews Blogger”. (Nice to see them shedding the pretense of journalism. At least it’s honest.) No biographical information is provided for Fisher, but it seems probable (especially after seeing the photo of himself coupled with the Tom Waits quote he uses on his Twitter account) that he has spent a lot more time hanging out with English majors than Major Generals. Alcohol consumption is of course well-known to both groups, but only one is used to hearing the phrase “yes, sir” a lot. The other is more used to hearing the phrase “get a real job and a haircut, hippie.”

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    • Diamondtail says:

      I can’t imagine a faster career-ending move than to “confront” a major general on his behavior, no matter how bone-headed that general is behaving. To my limited knowledge, only a superior officer is empowered to do that. Otherwise “confrontation” = “insubordination”, and the brave-but-underpowered individual is thrown under the bus.

      Based on the article (I didn’t read the official report), the general was guilty of gross misconduct and poor judgement. Stupid yes, not explicitly criminal activity. At best, this would be very subjective grounds for a real-time intervention by his staff, but would form the basis for a later investigation by the authorized organizations (i.e., Inspector General, etc.) for the general to be relieved of command. This appears to have been done.

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  2. NZ says:

    It seems like there’s a heavy drinking culture in the military to start with. From what I understand there’s also a heavy drinking culture in Russia. Throw a certain type of person into that mix and this is what you’re likely to get. Skipping meetings, complaining, offending Russian hosts, and attempting to perform with a band at a bar all seem causally downstream.

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  3. Todd says:

    I would like to comment on Your movie
    regarding Bribing 9th grade students.

    We know that people are easily bribed. Sadly, your experiment only proves that much. Bribing people like your children to do things is not a good social experiment. It renders them ethically corrupted allowing for simplified justification in expectations that bribes are not flawed logically or socially. This is very bad.You are creating CEO’s and people that expect they should get something other than the goals they set. Life does not permit for rewards all the time. Your future CEO’s will never question whether taking a bribe is wrong. You told them to expect them and they were good. Very bad reasoning for two guys with so much education. BOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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