2 Air Force commanders overseeing nuclear force support dismissed for ‘loss of confidence’
Stars and Stripes February 28, 2023
Two commanders and four others have been fired from units at Minot Air Force Base, a strategic nuclear installation in North Dakota, Air Force Global Strike Command officials said.
Col. Gregory Mayer, commander of the 5th Mission Support Group, and Maj. Jonathan Welch, the 5th Logistics Readiness Squadron commander, were dismissed from their jobs along with four of their subordinates, a base spokesperson told Stars and Stripes on Monday.
They were dismissed due to “a loss of confidence in their ability to complete their assigned duties,” an Air Force statement said.
Their names were withheld “to protect the privacy of the individuals” in the initial statement but later released. The Pentagon services typically release the names of commanders when announcing reliefs for cause.
Mayer took command of the 5th Mission Support Group in June last year.
Further details about the firings or related reprimands were not made available Tuesday.
The decision was made by Maj. Gen. Andrew J. Gebara, commander of 8th Air Force, which oversees the Air Force’s fleet of nuclear-capable strategic bombers and comes amid heightened scrutiny of the U.S. military's nuclear readiness.
"These personnel actions were necessary to maintain the very high standards we demand of those units entrusted with supporting our nation's nuclear mission," Gebara said Monday in a command statement.
The 5th Bomb Wing maintains a fleet of 28 nuclear-capable B-52H Stratofortress bombers. The 91st Missile Wing, also located at Minot, oversees 150 Minuteman III missiles in underground launch facilities spread across an 8,500 square-mile missile complex.
Mayer was responsible for $4.3 billion in base and missile field assets, according to his biography, which has since been removed from the unit’s website.
Previous command removals at Minot AFB included the dismissal of the 91st Missile Wing Operations Support Squadron commander in 2021 and the 69th Bomb Squadron and 91st Security Forces Group commanders in 2018.
The firings come as the Air Force is expanding a review of whether nine instances of blood cancer found in officers over decades are linked to nuclear silo work. The broadened review includes all personnel who worked on, guarded, supported or operated ground-based warheads, Global Strike Command announced last week.