The U.S. Air Force general who warned subordinates that praising the A-10 aircraft to lawmakers amounts to "treason" has been fired, the service said.
Maj. Gen. James Post has been removed from his position as the second-highest ranking officer at Air Combat Command, according to a statement released Friday by the command, which is based at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia.
The decision was made by Gen. Herbert "Hawk" Carlisle, head of the command, after he reviewed an Air Force Inspector General report that concluded Post's comments had a "chilling effect" on officers and "caused them to feel constrained from communicating with members of Congress," the release states.
The IG hotline received an anonymous complaint that referenced a Jan. 16 story on DoDBuzz detailing the matter, according to the report, which was posted on the Air Force's Freedom of Information Act website. The article was included as an exhibit in the document.
Carlisle issued a letter of reprimand to Post, who remains in the service. "General Post understands the impact of his actions and has expressed his sincere regret to me, a regret he extends to all Airmen," Carlisle said in the release.
A spokesperson at the command wouldn't say whether Post will seek to retire from the service.
Post made the controversial remarks while addressing a group of more than 300 airmen at a weapons and tactics review board Jan. 10 at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. He was quoted as saying, "If anyone accuses me of saying this, I will deny it … anyone who is passing information to Congress about A-10 capabilities is committing treason."
Reaction to Post's words was swift and critical. Lawmakers who support keeping the A-10 in the service called for an investigation and watchdog groups slammed the major general for trying to stifle dissent on an important issue -- whether to retire the Cold War-era plane.
The service has proposed retiring its fleet of almost 300 of the low, slow-flying gunship over a period of five years, due in part to federal spending caps that apply to the defense budget. The divestment is estimated to save $4 billion.
The Air Force initially sought to clarify Post's remarks. In an e-mail to Military.com, spokeswoman Maj. Genieve David said, "The intent of his comments were to communicate the Air Force’s position and decision on recommended actions and strategic choices faced for the current constrained fiscal environment."
But the IG report determined that Post's "choice of words had the effect of attempting to prevent some members from lawfully communicating with Congress," which is a violation of the U.S. code and Defense Department directives, whether that was his intention or not, according to the press release.
For his part, Post apologized for the remarks.
"The objective of my comment was simply meant to focus the attention of the audience on working within the command’s constraints," he said in a statement included in the release. "It was sincerely never my intention to discourage anyone's access to their elected officials. I now understand how my poor choice of words may have led a few attendees to draw this conclusion and I offer my humble apology for causing any undue strain on the command and its mission."
Post also said he understands and respects Gen. Carlisle's decision.