Six leaders — including two commanders and four of their subordinates — were fired from a key Air Force nuclear base in North Dakota without explanation Monday.
Col. Gregory Mayer, who ran the 5th Mission Support Group at Minot Air Force Base; Maj. Jonathan Welch, the 5th Logistics Readiness Squadron commander; and four unnamed subordinates lost their jobs due to a “loss of confidence” in their ability to lead, Air Force Global Strike Command said in a release Monday.
“These personnel actions were necessary to maintain the very high standards we demand of those units entrusted with supporting our nation’s nuclear mission,” said Maj. Gen. Andrew Gebara, the two-star in charge of Air Force nuclear units under 8th Air Force, in the release.
The Air Force declined to say what led to their ousters or what disciplinary action they may face.
Mayer held the support group’s top job for eight months after arriving at Minot last June. He has held leadership roles in the civil engineering community for the past several years of his nearly 25-year career.
At Minot, Mayer oversaw 1,900 airmen across six squadrons and a base portfolio worth $4.3 billion. Minot is the Air Force’s only installation that houses two legs of the nuclear triad.
Mayer’s group supports daily operations of the base’s B-52H Stratofortress nuclear-capable bombers, Minuteman III nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles and launch control centers, and UH-1N helicopters, according to an official biography that was removed from Minot’s website Monday.
The Air Force declined to provide more information about whether the other airmen were officers or enlisted, who will replace them, or whether they were all fired over the same incident.
Minot has endured frequent high-level dismissals over the past two decades, including the 91st Missile Wing Operations Support Squadron commander in 2021, the 69th Bomb Squadron and 91st Security Forces Group commanders in 2018, the 741st Missile Squadron commander in 2014, the 91st Missile Wing commander in 2009 and the 5th Bomb Group commander in 2007.
Base misconduct has invited increased scrutiny in that time as well. Firings have come in response to widespread cheating on the monthly proficiency test for missileers, mishandling of nuclear weapons, unprofessional conduct and drug use.
“Our mission is foundational to our nation’s defense, and we remain committed to the success of that no-fail mission,” Gebara said.
Rachel Cohen is the editor of Air Force Times. She joined the publication as its senior reporter in March 2021. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Frederick News-Post (Md.), Air and Space Forces Magazine, Inside Defense, Inside Health Policy and elsewhere.