Navy Strategic Air Wing Commander Fired

Capt. Heather E. Cole
Capt. Heather E. Cole

WASHINGTON -- The Navy fired the commander of an organization whose aircraft allow the president and the secretary of defense to directly contact the submarines, bombers and land-based missiles that comprise the nation's strategic nuclear force.

A Navy statement said Capt. Heather E. Cole was relieved of her duties as commander of Strategic Communications Wing 1, based at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, for what it called a "loss of confidence" in her ability to lead.

A spokeswoman, Cmdr. Jeannie Groeneveld, said the firing was based on findings of an investigation into her management of the wing. Details were not released.

A Pacfic Fleet Public Affairs statement said that the action resulted from the initial findings of an investigation, which determined that Cole had not performed up to the high standards demanded of an officer in command.

Cole has been temporarily assigned to the CNAP staff pending the final adjudication of the case.

Capt. Brian McCormick, the former deputy commander of SCW 1 and TF 124, has been assigned as acting commander of the wing and task force.

Cole's air wing has no role in operating nuclear weapons but is responsible for the Navy squadrons whose E-6B Mercury aircraft provide communications links between the president and the nuclear forces.

SCW 1 is an administrative command, responsible to Commander Naval Air Forces (CNAF), for manning, training and equipping the Navy squadrons responsible for nuclear command and control communication to the nation's nuclear triad. TF 124 is an operational command, responsible to Commander, U.S. Strategic Command, which provides the airborne platform and aircrew for the U.S. Strategic Command Airborne Command Post, the Airborne Launch Control System, the Non-Strategic Nuclear Forces Theater Commanders and the "Take Charge and Move Out" (TACAMO) Emergency Action Message relay missions.

SCW 1/TF 124 has direct responsibility for Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron (VQ) 3; VQ-4; VQ-7; VQ-3 Detachment Travis Air Force Base, Calif.; SCW 1 Detachment Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.; and VQ-4 Detachment Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md.

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Navy Relieved of Command