The commander of the 741st Missile Security Forces Squadron at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana has been relieved of command.

Lt. Col. Raymond Fortner was removed Tuesday “due to a loss of trust and confidence after a series of events demonstrated that Fortner established and maintained an unhealthy command climate,” Malmstrom said in a release. He was relieved by Col. Aaron Guill, commander of the 341st Security Forces Group.

Malmstrom said that the 341st Missile Wing’s inspector general received complaints, and after a preliminary inquiry, a commander-directed investigation was conducted. That investigation substantiated several of the complaints.

Fortner’s firing was first reported by the Great Falls-area news website The Electric.

In a follow-up email, 341st spokesman Michael Whetston said Fortner’s leaders and subordinates lost trust and confidence “in his ability to accomplish the mission while treating people with dignity and respect.”

“Commanders are subject to removal from their positions if superior commanders, at any level, have lost confidence in their ability to lead effectively,” Whetston said. “Commanders have the obligation to identify potential issues, take all necessary steps to protect airmen, and prevent impropriety or misconduct. Commanders must also hold people accountable, and be held accountable, if an investigation reveals that corrective action is necessary.”

Whetston said the IG received complaints in mid-August, and referred those complaints to Guill, who conducted the preliminary inquiry. He began the formal CDI on Sept. 21.

The formal investigation was finished Nov. 8, and the legal review was finished on Nov. 11, Whetston said. After senior leaders were notified, the decision to remove Fortner from command was made on Tuesday.

The release said Maj. Cody Elliott is now the interim commander of the squadron. Fortner will be assigned to another position at Malmstrom until he is due to rotate to another duty location.

Fortner took command of the 341st in July 2017.

Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.

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