The Air Force is getting back to basics in its selection process for top generals, at a time when the Pentagon is scrambling to prevent future gaffes that embarrass its flag officer ranks.
Maj. Gen. Michael Carey, who used to command the Air Force's nuclear missiles arsenal, in October became the latest top officer forced to step down from his position after it was revealed he engaged in inappropriate personal behavior while on a temporary duty assignment.
The Air Force's top officer said Tuesday that his subordinates are taking a deep breath and reflecting on potential replacements before nominating the new nuke commander, even if the candidate seems perfectly qualified.
"Assuming the obvious choice in this business is dangerous. Let's take a deeper look," Gen. Mark Welsh said during a breakfast meeting with reporters. "It would include a Google search."
"What pops up when you type somebody's name into Google? It might be worth knowing that before you nominate someone for a key job."
A string of firings in recent years has given a black eye to all of the military services. Navy Vice Adm. Tim Giardina was fired from his position as deputy commander of U.S. nuclear forces the same week as Carey, following allegations he used counterfeit chips at an Iowa casino. Army Maj. Gen. Ralph Baker lost his position leading U.S. Africa Command in April due to previous connections with alcohol and sexual misconduct charges.
The Air Force, in response, has borrowed from the Army's "Multi-Source Assessment and Feedback 360" evaluation model in which all flag officers provide reviews of other generals above and below them in the chain of command. Welsh hopes to apply this eventually to all the ranks.
"[It's a] very valuable tool for the individual to learn how people perceive them," Welsh said. "As we consider people for more senior jobs, this will be part of the review."
"We need to add more rigor, which I think is appropriate," he said.
Welsh's remarks come at a time when the Air Force is also reviewing how it instills values into all airmen. The latest trial began Tuesday for Air Force Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski, the former head of Air Force sexual assault prevention who faces charges related to sexual assault.