STRATCOM Fires its No. 2
By Debbie Gregory.
US Navy Vice Admiral Tim Giardina has been relieved of his duties as deputy commander of US Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM). STRATCOM is responsible for all American nuclear warfighting forces, including nuclear-armed submarines, bombers and land-based missiles.
Giardina is the focus of an ongoing investigation being conducted by the Navy Criminal Investigative Services (NCIS) regarding the use of counterfeit poker chips at the Horseshoe Council Bluffs Casino in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Iowa gaming officials allege that Giardina used $1,500 in counterfeit poker chips. Back in July, NCIS was given control of the investigation from local law enforcement. Giardina has not yet been charged with a crime.
On September 3rd, the commander of USSTRATCOM, Air Force General Robert Kehler, suspended his No. 2. Kehler then recommended to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel that Giardina be relieved of his duties at USSTRATCOM and returned to the Navy. Hagel agreed, and escalated the matter to the next level. On October 3, President Barack Obama approved Giardina’s removal, stating a “loss of confidence” in the admiral.
The move to replace Giardina is rare one, unprecedented in the history of USSTRATCOM. The magnitude of removing such a high ranking officer resonates, in that only the president can relieve a three- or four-star officer from his post.
As a further consequence of being removed from his post at USSTRATCOM, Giardina also received a reduction in rank from Vice Admiral to Rear Admiral Upper half; or from three-star to two-star admiral. Rear Admiral Giardina has been reassigned to an undetermined position within the Navy.
Giardina has been a career submarine officer. He was a 1979 graduate of the US Naval Academy. Prior to his appointment at USSTRATCOM, he commanded Submarine Squadron 17 (SUBRON 17) in Bangor, WA.
The White House has nominated Air Force Lt. Gen. James Kowalski to succeed Giardina as deputy commander at USTRATCOM, but his nomination has not yet been confirmed by the Senate.