2 Commanders Among 6 Fired from Jobs at Minot Air Force Base

Col. Gregory Mayer change of command ceremony.
Col. Gregory Mayer (center) during a change of command ceremony on June 30, 2022, at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota. (U.S. Air Force photos by Senior Airman Michael A. Richmond)

Two commanders and four subordinates at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, an installation that is crucial to America's nuclear triad, have been fired from their jobs, reportedly after officials lost faith in their ability to perform their mission.

Col. Gregory Mayer, the commander of the 5th Mission Support Group, and Maj. Jonathan Welch, the commander of the 5th Logistics Readiness Squadron, were both relieved of their jobs, a Minot Air Force Base spokeswoman confirmed to Military.com on Tuesday morning.

"These personnel actions were necessary to maintain the very high standards we demand of those units entrusted with supporting our Nation's nuclear mission," Maj. Gen. Andrew J. Gebara, commander of 8th Air Force, said in an Air Force Global Strike Command press release Monday.

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Air Force Global Strike Command added that, in addition to the two commanders, four subordinate leaders were fired by other officials at Minot. The firings were "due to a loss of confidence in their ability to complete their assigned duties," according to the Monday press release.

The names of the subordinates are not being publicized by base leaders.

"To protect the privacy of the individuals, further details will not be released," the news release said.

The services often don't disclose specifics of why commanders are relieved of their duties, typically citing the federal Privacy Act, which protects military records, and relying on the vague phrase "loss of trust and confidence" instead of detailing the specific reasons behind a shake-up, including whether there was misconduct.

An Air Force biography about Mayer's career has been removed from the base's website, but an archived copy on the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine shows he took on his role as commander of the 5th Mission Support Group in June 2022.

He was commissioned in the Air Force after graduating from Texas A&M University's ROTC program in 1999 and had deployments to Iraq, Kuwait and Oman in various roles.

The 5th Mission Support Group assists and supports the "5th Bomb Wing's 28 B-52 strategic bombers, the 91st Missile Wing's 165 Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic missiles and Launch control centers, and the 54th Helicopter Squadron's eight UH-1 helicopters," according to Mayer's biography.

Biographical details about Welch's career were not immediately available.

The shake-up in leadership also comes as Air Force officials are now investigating whether service members in a wide assortment of jobs who have served at any of the nation's intercontinental ballistic missile bases, including Minot, are at risk for Non-Hodgkin lymphoma and other cancers.

-- Thomas Novelly can be reached at thomas.novelly@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @TomNovelly.

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