Air Force officer in charge of pilot training is fired over loss of trust

Col. Derek Stuart was removed from command of 14th Operations Group at Columbus Air Force Base, Miss., due to a loss of trust and confidence in his ability to command.


By IMMANUEL JOHNSON | STARS AND STRIPES Published: January 10, 2020

GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — An Air Force colonel in charge of undergraduate pilot training at Columbus Air Base in Mississippi was relieved of his duties last week, a spokeswoman for Air Education and Training Command said.

“Maj. Gen. Craig Wills, 19th Air Force commander, removed Col. Derek Stuart, 14th Operations Group commander, from his position Jan. 2, 2020, due to a loss of trust and confidence in his ability to command,” said Marilyn Holliday, a spokeswoman with AETC. She did not provide any further details.

Stuart had been at Columbus AFB, Mississippi, since the fall of 2018, Holliday said.

The 14th Operations Group, under the 14th Flying Training Wing, is responsible for a 52-week specialized undergraduate pilot training mission, Holliday said.

In addition to training more than 400 U.S. Air Force and international officers each year at Columbus, the group directs tactical training for Afghan pilots and maintenance members at Moody AFB, Ga., and oversees an air traffic control complex with over 300,000 aircraft movements annually.

Stuart’s command included eight squadrons with over 1,300 officers, civilians, enlisted and contract personnel.

He was previously assigned as an element commander for the Air Force in Naples, Italy, and was an operational military planner and the commander of the 733rd Air Mobility Squadron in Japan.

Lt. Col. William McElhinney has assumed command of the 14th OG, Holliday said.

Twitter: @Manny_Stripes

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