Admiral relieved of nuclear arsenal duties amid investigation
WASHINGTON — The deputy commander of nuclear forces, Vice Adm. Tim Giardina, was notified on Wednesday that he has been relieved of duty amid a military investigation of allegations that he used counterfeit chips in an Iowa casino, the Navy said.
The move is exceedingly rare and perhaps unprecedented in the history of Strategic Command, which is responsible for all American nuclear war fighting forces, including nuclear-armed submarines, bombers and land-based missiles.
The Navy's top spokesman, Rear Adm. John Kirby, said Giardina, who had held the job since December 2011, is being reassigned to the Navy staff to await the outcome of the probe by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. The gambling matter originated as a local law enforcement investigation in Iowa in June.
As a consequence of being removed from his post at Strategic Command, Giardina falls in rank to a two-star admiral. He was suspended by Gen. Robert Kehler, the top commander at Strategic Command, on Sept. 3, although that move was not disclosed publicly until Sept. 28.
After his suspension, Giardina remained at Strategic Command but was not allowed to perform duties that required use of his security clearance.
The decision to take the next step — to relieve him of duty — was made on Oct. 3, one official said. That required approval by President Obama, two Defense officials said.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss internal decision-making.