The commander of the Air Force Research Laboratory, Maj. Gen. William Cooley, was relieved of command Wednesday, Air Force Materiel Command said in a release.

Gen. Arnold Bunch, the commander of AFMC, fired Cooley from command of the lab at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio “due to a loss of confidence in his ability to lead, related to alleged misconduct which is currently under investigation,” according to the Thursday news release.

AFMC spokesman Derek Kaufman said in a phone call that the Office of Special Investigations is investigating Cooley’s alleged misconduct. But Kaufman could not provide any more details about the misconduct because the investigation is still ongoing.

In the release, AFMC said that Bunch decided “new leadership was necessary to ensure good order and discipline, and continued high performance within the organization.”

“The Air Force takes any misconduct allegation seriously,” Bunch said in the release. “I expect our leadership to uphold the highest standards and live up to the Air Force’s core values.”

Cooley has been reassigned as a special assistant to Bunch, Kaufman said. He remains at Wright-Patterson, where both the lab and AFMC are headquartered.

Brig. Gen. Evan Dertien, who was AFMC’s air, space and cyberspace operations director, has been appointed as the lab’s new director. He previously served as vice commander of the lab from July 2016 to May 2017.

“I have great confidence in Brig. Gen. Dertien and in the professionalism of the entire AFRL workforce,” Bunch said. “Together, they will remain focused on implementing the U.S. Air Force Science and Technology 2030 Strategy and ensuring AFRL is best postured to support the National Defense Strategy.”

Cooley entered the Air Force in 1988, through the Reserve Officers Training Corps program and became a second lieutenant. He entered active duty two years later after earning a Master of Science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.

Before commanding the laboratory, he served as program executive for programs and integration at the Missile Defense Agency at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama.

As head of the laboratory, he was in charge of managing the Air Force’s $2.5 billion science and technology program, and another $2.3 billion in externally funded research and development.

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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