StratCom deputy chief fired as nation's No. 2 nuclear commander - Omaha.com
Published Thursday, October 10, 2013 at 12:00 am / Updated at 1:22 pm
StratCom deputy chief fired as nation's No. 2 nuclear commander

President Barack Obama has fired the deputy commander of the Bellevue-based U.S. Strategic Command from his duties after accusations that he passed counterfeit poker chips at a Council Bluffs casino last June, Pentagon officials said Wednesday.

Vice Adm. Timothy Giardina has been reassigned to Navy staff at the Pentagon and will move to Washington, D.C., within the next three weeks, said Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Navy's top spokesman.

Under military rules, the reassignment also means Giardina is being demoted from three-star rank to two.

His attorney, Brian Rhoten, didn't immediately return a call seeking comment.

As StratCom's deputy, Giardina had been the No. 2-ranked official in charge of the Pentagon's nuclear forces since December 2011.

In June, Giardina is believed to have used at least $1,500 in fake gambling chips while playing poker at the Horseshoe Casino, said Pottawattamie County Attorney Matt Wilber.

Casino employees discovered the counterfeit chips and alerted the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation.

A month later, the Iowa agency notified StratCom. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service began its own investigation. Iowa wrapped up its probe in late August and decided against filing charges, deferring any criminal action to the military. NCIS investigators are still continuing their work, Kirby said.

Giardina's boss, Gen. C. Robert Kehler, suspended him from oversight of nuclear weapons or any other responsibilities involving classified material Sept. 3 and recommended his dismissal from the position, said Navy Capt. Pamela Kunze, a StratCom spokeswoman. The decision wasn't made public until Sept. 28, in response to a World-Herald query.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel forwarded Kehler's recommendation to the President, who approved it late last week. It took until yesterday to clear administrative hurdles. His new duties haven't been determined yet.

“It's the Navy's (decision) now,” said Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman. “They'll decide what to do.”

Giardina, 57, is a 1979 graduate of the Naval Academy and career submarine officer. He was deputy commander and chief of staff at the U.S. Pacific Fleet in Honolulu before assuming his duties at StratCom in December 2011. His tour was scheduled to end this year.

The removal of such a high-ranking officer for misconduct is uncommon.

“I know of no other case ever of a deputy commander who was relieved for cause,” retired Air Force Gen. Eugene Habiger, who led StratCom from 1996-98, told the Associated Press.

A senior defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the dismissal shows the seriousness of the case.

“We hold flag and general officers to a very high standard of conduct and behavior,” the official said. “Gen. Kehler clearly decided he had lost confidence in (Giardina's) ability.”

Contact the writer: Steve Liewer

steve.liewer@owh.com    |   402-444-1186

Steve is the military affairs reporter for The World-Herald.

Omahan arrested on 4th offense DUI
78th Street closed to through traffic
Regency area without power for 2 1/2 hours Sunday night
Driver seriously injured in crash into semi
Firefighters put out industrial oven fire
Primary battle between Battiato, Morrissey may be only race
UNMC appoints new dean for the college of dentistry
Jeff Corwin hopes to build connection with nature at Nebraska Science Festival
Metro transit recommends streetcar, rapid-transit bus line for Omaha
6-mile stretch of Highway 75 is the road not taken
After decades looking in, Republican Dan Frei seeks chance to take action
Ben Sasse, Shane Osborn try to pin label of D.C. insider on each other
Curious about government salaries? Look no further
Easter Sunday temperatures climb into 80s in Omaha area
Omaha police investigate two nonfatal shootings
City Council to vote on adding Bluffs pedestrian safety lights
Sole big donor to Beau McCoy says he expects nothing in return
Convicted killer Nikko Jenkins might await his sentence in prison
Kelly: 70 years after a deadly D-Day rehearsal, Omahan, WWII vet will return to Europe
Midlands runners ready for Boston Marathon
Families from area shelters treated to meal at Old Chicago
Firefighters battle brush fire near Fontenelle Forest
Sioux City riverboat casino prepares to close, still hoping to be saved
Omaha high schoolers to help canvass for Heartland 2050
Mizzou alumni aim to attract veterinary students to Henry Doorly Zoo
< >
COLUMNISTS »
Kelly: 70 years after a deadly D-Day rehearsal, Omahan, WWII vet will return to Europe
A World War II veteran from Omaha will return this week to Europe to commemorate a tragedy in the run-up to D-Day.
Dickson’s Week in Review, April 13-19
On Twitter some guy tweeted that the spring game isn’t taken as seriously as a regular-season contest. What was your first clue? When the head coach entered waving a cat aloft?
Kelly: A California university president returns to her Nebraska roots on Ivy Day
The main speaker at today's Ivy Day celebration at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is a college president who grew up roping calves and earned her Ph.D. at the prestigious Oxford University in England.
Breaking Brad: Stuck in a claw machine? You get no Easter candy
I know of one kid in Lincoln who will be receiving a lump of coal from the Easter Bunny, just as soon as he's extricated from that bowling alley claw machine.
Breaking Brad: Mountain lion season's over, but the bunny's fair game!
Thursday was the last day of a Nebraska Legislature session. Before leaving town, legislators passed a bill to hold a lottery to hunt the Easter Bunny.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
Meridian Med Spa
50% Off Botox®, Botox® Bridal Party, Fillers and Peels
Buy Now
PHOTO GALLERIES »
< >
SPOTLIGHT »
Omaha World-Herald Contests
Enter for a chance to win great prizes.
OWH Store: Buy photos, books and articles
Buy photos, books and articles
Travel Snaps Photo
Going on Vacation? Take the Omaha World-Herald with you and you could the next Travel Snaps winner.
Click here to donate to Goodfellows
The 2011 Goodfellows fund drive provided holiday meals to nearly 5,000 families and their children, and raised more than $500,000 to help families in crisis year round.
WORLD-HERALD ALERTS »
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for Omaha.com's News Alerts and you will receive e-mails with the day's top stories.
Can't find what you need? Click here for site map »