Air Force loses confidence in missile wing commander’s ability to command

By Calvin Palmer

The missile wing commander of an Air Force base in North Dakota has been relieved of his command.

The Air Force says it lost confidence in Col Christopher Ayres’ ability to command Minot Air Force Base’s 91st Missile Wing after recent incidents.

Those incidents include the rollover of a semi-trailer carrying missile parts caused by the driver trying to swat a large insect that landed on his back. It was the second crash of a base vehicle carrying missile materials in just over a year

The Air Force said Ayres was not being relieved of command for any alleged misconduct or wrongdoing.

Air Force spokesman Andy Roake said the recent incidents at the base included vehicle rollovers, some instances of misconduct and the wing’s negative performance during a nuclear surety inspection.

The command’s action was the result of “various events that caused a loss of confidence in his ability to command effectively”.

Ayres had been the base missile wing commander since May 2008.

Two other officers were also relieved of their duties overseeing the wing’s maintenance units

We must uphold the highest standards within the nuclear enterprise,” said Gen C. Robert Kehler, commander of Air Force Space Command, in announcing the action against Ayres. “We must have complete confidence in our leadership as we continue the revitalization of the nuclear enterprise.”

Minot Air Force Base is the command center for 150 Minuteman III missiles  and is one of the country’s two B-52 bomber bases

It seems the Air Force is not singing from the same hymn sheet. First the Air Force statement says no misconduct and then its spokesman says some instances of misconduct.

Come on, make up your minds. Which is it to be?

[Based on reports by the Associated Press and ABC News.]

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5 responses to “Air Force loses confidence in missile wing commander’s ability to command

  1. Glen P

    On August 30, 2008, a B-52 took off from Minot AFB carrying six cruise missiles with W-80 nuclear warheads to Barksdale AFB in Louisiana. No base personnel or crew knew the nukes were aboard. A subsequent investigation at Minot revealed other problems, e.g., Air Force Officers falling asleep at the control panel of ICBMs, etc. Sounds as if the USAF is firing this dolt for cause but doesn’t want to bring up the past screwups that happened on his watch.

    • Someone who was there

      Get your facts straight before you post critical comments about a better man than yourself.

      1) There are two wings at Minot. one flies B-52s, the other mans ICBMs. The B-52 incident was the 5th Bomb Wing. The Wing Commander involved in that incident was relieved at that time. (by the way, he’d been in command for less than a month at the time…) Col Ayres, who commanded the ICBM wing, wasn’t even assigned to Minot when that happened.

      2) The ICBM launch officers were not “asleep a the control panels of ICBMs.” They fell asleep upstairs after having been properly relieved by the next crew on duty. However, they did have old (i.e. no longer valid) launch codes with them. Bad, yes, but insecure nukes? Hardly.

      All three relieved commanders in this mess have been out in front leading the rebuilding of the ICBM culture and infrastructure the fighter-pilot mafia let slip away over the past decade.

      “It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

      Theodore Roosevelt
      “Citizenship in a Republic,”
      Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910

      • calvininjax

        On what basis do you make the judgment that he is he a better man than me?

        I have not impugned the character of Col Ayres, simply reported the action taken by the Air Force.

        My criticism pertains to the contradiction by the Air Force regarding whether there was misconduct or not.

  2. Someone who was there

    I was responding to Glenn P’s comments, not your news report. And I quote “…firing this dolt.”

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