WASHINGTON — A flood of misconduct cases involving generals and admirals has created deep concern at the Pentagon about ethical and moral shortcomings among senior military officers and prompted new steps to tighten rules, increase inspections and weed out offenders, officials said.
The most recent cases — a Navy admiral under investigation for using counterfeit gambling chips and an Air Force general in charge of nuclear-tipped missiles relieved for drunkenness off duty — follow a long list of officer wrongdoings over the past year. The offenses include ethical lapses and allegations of criminal violations, including sexual assault.
Senior officers who have examined the problem say that no evidence suggests widespread misconduct among the nearly 1,000 generals and admirals in the armed forces.
"We do not have an epidemic of flag-officer misconduct in the United States Navy," Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Navy's top spokesman, said in comments echoed by senior officers in other services.
But officials acknowledge that a steady stream of revelations have the potential to damage public confidence in an institution that portrays itself as abiding by the highest standards of conduct. That could harm recruiting, morale in the ranks and public support for the military.
Although detailed statistics on officer misconduct are not available, an annual accounting of investigations by the Pentagon's inspector general shows a growing number of cases, many in the Army.
In fiscal year 2013, which ended in September, 95 out of 250 allegations of misconduct investigated were found to be "substantiated," including 26 in the Army, three in the Navy, 10 in the Air Force and none in the Marine Corps. Similar numbers were investigated and substantiated in 2012.