It’s well known that one of the hazards of problem gambling can be that it has the potential to disrupt the gambler’s work life, potentially even costing them their job. But while job-related consequences related to gambling may not be rare, it is unusual to see someone in a very prominent position deal with them.
That’s what happened this week, as a vice admiral at the United States Strategic Command was suspended in relation to an investigation into whether he has been involved in illegal gambling. Vice Admiral Timothy M. Giardina is the second in command at the United States Strategic Command, which is the military unit that oversees nuclear war forces.
Decorated Officer Suspended
Giardina has spent more than three decades in the Navy, and is a highly regarded officer. The suspension took place on September 3, but was not announced publicly until this past weekend.
Because there is still an investigation underway by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), many details of the case have not yet been released. However, a spokeswoman from the Strategic Command did provide some background on the case.
According to Captain Pamela Kunze, Strategic Command first became aware of the gambling issue in July. That was a month after Giardina became a subject of an inquiry by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation over the possibility that he had used counterfeit gambling chips at the Horseshoe Casino in Council Bluffs.
The exact nature of how the chips were used is unknown. However, David Dales of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation said that the case involved poker at the casino. As of now, no state charges have been filed against Giardina, but the agency’s investigation is still open.
No Direct Connection to Job Performance Noted
Perhaps the biggest concern in this case is over whether the alleged illegal gambling activity could have somehow affected Giardina’s job performance, or perhaps compromised the Strategic Command or national security. As of now, it’s unclear if anything like that occurred, and it doesn’t seem as though there is any direct link from the casino investigation and the Vice Admiral’s job.
However, Giardina’s career will almost certainly be affected by the investigation, regardless of how it turns out. Strategic Command Commander General C. Robert Kehler has already recommended to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel that Vice Admiral Giardina be reassigned. It’s unclear if any additional disciplinary reaction will be taken. Giardina was already scheduled to rotate out of his position later this year; President Obama appointed an Air Force general to take his place earlier this year, and that choice was confirmed by the Senate.
Vice Admiral Giardina is a career submarine officer who took his current post in December 2011. Since graduating from the Naval Academy in 1979, he has worked in positions including deputy commander and chief of staff of the Pacific Fleet.
The Strategic Command was first established in 1992, and is based at Offutt Air Force Base south of Omaha, Nebraska. It is responsible not only for the United States’ nuclear arsenal, but also overseas cyber warfare operations and space-based military operations.