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U.S. military nuclear leader shakeup continues

Two officers fired, another disciplined

Robert Burns Associated Press

WASHINGTON – The Air Force on Monday fired two more nuclear commanders and disciplined a third, fresh evidence of leadership lapses in a nuclear missile corps that has suffered a rash of recent setbacks, including the firing last year of its top commander.

The most senior officer to be relieved Monday was Col. Carl Jones, the No. 2 commander of the 90th Missile Wing at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming, in charge of 150 of the Air Force’s 450 Minuteman 3 nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles. He was dismissed “for a loss of trust and confidence in his leadership abilities,” and has been reassigned as a special assistant to the wing commander.

The actions Monday were confirmed to the Associated Press in response to an AP inquiry about an internal Air Force investigation of two commanders at the 91st Missile Wing at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, which also is responsible for 150 Minuteman 3 missiles.

Air Force Global Strike Command spokesman Lt. Col. John Sheets said Monday that as a result of the Minot investigation, missile squadron commander Lt. Col. Jimmy “Keith” Brown was relieved of command Monday “because of a loss of confidence in Brown’s ability to lead his squadron.”

Sheets said the investigation found that Brown “made statements to subordinates that created a perception within his squadron that pregnancy would negatively affect a woman’s career.”

The probe also substantiated allegations that Brown had failed to ensure the well-being of his troops. In March a two-person crew operating a Minuteman 3 launch control center at Minot felt ill from fumes created by a refurbishment project, but remained at their post because they believed Brown would have taken action against them had they left. They later were hospitalized, Sheets said.

The second officer targeted in the Minot investigation was Col. Richard Pagliuco, commander of the 91st Operations Group, which is in charge of the three missile squadrons at Minot, including Brown’s.

Sheets said the investigation confirmed Pagliuco “failed to promote and safeguard the morale, well-being and welfare of the airmen under his command,” and received administrative punishment in the form of a letter in his personnel file.

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