Air Force Two-Star Fired Amid Investigation into Misconduct Allegations

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Air Force Maj. Gen. William Cooley
U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. William T. Cooley, then-Air Force Research Laboratory commander, delivers remarks during a press conference inside the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo by Wesley Farnsworth)

The head of the Air Force Research Lab at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is under investigation after misconduct allegations were made against him and has been removed from his position.

Gen. Arnold Bunch, head of Air Force Materiel Command, relieved Maj. Gen. William Cooley from his post Wednesday "due to a loss of confidence in his ability to lead," the command said in a release, adding that the move is related to the ongoing investigation.

Derek Kaufman, spokesman for AFMC, told Military.com that Cooley has been temporarily reassigned as the special assistant to Bunch while officials look into the allegations.

Kaufman added that the Air Force Office of Special Investigations is looking into the matter, but could not comment on the nature of inquiry. However, a military lawyer previously told Military.com that when "OSI embarks on an investigation, it is inherently a criminal investigation."

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"The Air Force takes any misconduct allegation seriously," Bunch said in the release. "I expect our leadership to uphold the highest standards and live up to the Air Force's core values."

Brig. Gen. Evan Dertien has been appointed as the new AFRL commander, officials said in the release. Dertien was previously AFRL's vice commander from July 2016 to May 2017.

"I have great confidence in Brig. Gen. Dertien and in the professionalism of the entire AFRL workforce," Bunch said. "Together, they will remain focused on implementing the U.S. Air Force Science and Technology 2030 Strategy and ensuring AFRL is best postured to support the National Defense Strategy."

Cooley became the AFRL commander in May 2017, according to his official Air Force biography. Prior to his role in Ohio, Cooley was the program executive for programs and integration at the Missile Defense Agency at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama.

In April, Cooley unveiled the service's S&T 2030 Strategy following a 12-month review to analyze how and where the service could strengthen or foster new relationships with the science community, academic universities and industry partners.

"To ensure that we have confidence in and understand how to employ these new technologies and capabilities, we have to demonstrate them in a relevant environment, build prototypes and perform experimentation," he said at the time. "This will build confidence in these new technologies for our warfighter."

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.

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