Two commanders in the Massachusetts Air National Guard were temporarily suspended last week in connection with a federal investigation into alleged classified intelligence leaker Jack Teixeira, the Air Force confirmed Thursday.
Col. Sean Riley, commander of the 102nd Intelligence Wing at Otis Air National Guard Base on Cape Cod, suspended the head of the subordinate 102nd Intelligence Support Squadron where Teixeira worked. The commander in charge of supporting airmen like Teixeira, who are mobilized on full-time, active-duty Title 10 orders, was suspended as well, according to Air Force spokesperson Rose Riley.
In addition to temporarily removing the commanders from their jobs, the Department of the Air Force has also revoked their access to classified networks and information, Riley told Air Force Times. Reuters first reported the development on Wednesday.
The Air Force did not provide the commanders’ names or list a specific reason for the suspensions. Leaders at the Massachusetts Air Guard are “taking appropriate action as information becomes available,” service spokesperson Ann Stefanek said.
The decision comes amid an ongoing Air Force inspector general investigation into the circumstances of the leak, in which Teixeira is accused of spreading hundreds of classified documents detailing U.S. assessments of the war in Ukraine, conditions on the ground in Afghanistan and other national security issues on the social media site Discord.
Teixeira, 21, faces federal charges under the Espionage Act of unauthorized retention and transmission of classified national defense information, which could land him in prison for up to 10 years. He has not yet entered a plea and is detained pending trial.
Teixeira joined the Air National Guard in 2019 and worked as an IT specialist on the networks used to disseminate military intelligence products. He held the rank of airman first class — the third-lowest enlisted rank — at the time of his arrest on April 13.
The Air Force launched its own internal investigation earlier this month in parallel with the broader prosecution led by the Justice Department. The service’s probe is looking into potential failures to comply with the policy, procedures and standards intended to keep classified information safe within the 102nd Intelligence Wing, as well as breakdowns in the parts of the security clearance process that belong to the Air Force.
On April 18, the top civilian and uniformed leaders in the Air Force and Space Force directed all units to review their own internal security within 30 days.
“The focus of the standdown will be to reassess our security posture and procedures, validate the need to know for each person’s access, and emphasize to all airmen and guardians the responsibility we are entrusted with to safeguard this information and to enforce and improve our security requirements,” the service said.
The Air Force has reassigned the intelligence support mission of Teixeira’s unit within the 102nd Intelligence Wing to other organizations while the IG investigation is underway.
Rachel Cohen joined Air Force Times as senior reporter in March 2021. Her work has appeared in Air Force Magazine, Inside Defense, Inside Health Policy, the Frederick News-Post (Md.), the Washington Post, and others.