Tim Giardina, the No. 2 military officer in charge of all U.S. nuclear war-fighting forces has been suspended and is under investigation for issues related to gambling, officials said Saturday.
The highly unusual action against a high-ranking officer at U.S. Strategic Command was made more than three weeks ago but was not publicly announced, according to the Associated Press.
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Navy Vice Adm. Tim Giardina was suspended from his duties on Sept. 3 by Air Force Gen. Robert Kehler, who heads Strategic Command. The command's top spokeswoman, Navy Capt. Pamela Kunze, said Tim Giardina is still assigned to the command, but he is prohibited from performing duties related to nuclear weapons and other issues requiring a security clearance.
Tim Giardina is currently under investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigation Command.
Kehler recommended to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel that Tim Giardina be reassigned, Kunze said. Tim Giardina has been the deputy commander of Strategic Command since December 2011. He is a career submarine officer, and, prior to starting his assignment there, was the deputy commander and chief of staff at U.S. Pacific Fleet.
Two senior U.S. officials familiar with the investigation said it is related to gambling issues. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the probe in incomplete.
Strategic Command oversees the military's nuclear fighter units, including the Navy's nuclear-armed submarines and the Air Force's nuclear bombers and nuclear land-based missiles. It is located near Omaha, Neb.
Kunze said Strategic Command did not announce the Sept. 3 suspension because Giardina remains under investigation and action on Kehler's recommendation that Giardina be reassigned is pending. The suspension was first reported by the Omaha World-Herald.
The spokeswoman said a law enforcement agency, which she would not identify, began an investigation of Giardina on June 16. Kehler became aware of this on July 16, and the following day he asked the Naval Criminal Investigation Service to begin a probe.
The suspension is yet another blow to the military's nuclear establishment. Last spring the nuclear missile unit at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., pulled 17 launch control officers off duty after a problematic inspection and later relieved of duty the officer in charge of training and proficiency. In August, a nuclear missile unit at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., failed a nuclear safety and security inspection; nine days later an officer in charge of the unit's security forces was relieved of duty.
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