The deputy commander of U.S. nuclear forces, Vice Adm. Tim Giardina, was notified Wednesday that he has been relieved of duty amid a military investigation of allegations that he used counterfeit chips at an Iowa casino, the Navy said.

The move is exceedingly rare and perhaps unprecedented in the history of U.S. Strategic Command, which is responsible for all U.S. nuclear warfighting forces, including nuclear-armed submarines, bombers and land-based missiles.

The Navy’s top spokesman, Rear Adm. John Kirby, said Giardina, who had held the job since December 2011, is being reassigned to the Navy staff pending the outcome of the probe by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, which originated as a local law enforcement investigation in Iowa in June.

As a consequence of being removed from his post at Strategic Command, Giardina falls in rank to two-star admiral. He had been suspended by Gen. Robert Kehler, the top commander at Strategic Command, on Sept. 3, although that move was not disclosed publicly until Sept. 28.

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