Air Force Training Commander Fired


One of the Air Force’s top commanders has been fired amid unspecified misconduct allegations. Maj. Gen. Phillip A. Stewart, commander of the 19th Air Force, was relieved “for loss of confidence in his ability to command” the unit according to Air and Space Forces. “The Air Force takes any misconduct allegation seriously and is committed to conducting a thorough investigation,” Air Force spokesman Lt. Gen. Brian S. Robinson said in a statement.  

Brig. Gen. Christopher R. Amrhein, Stewart’s vice commander, has been named the interim commander. The 19th Air Force is responsible for all the flight training in the Air Force and has about 32,000 personnel. It’s the latest in a series of high-profile firings this year. Brig. Gen. Paul Birch, commander of the 36th Wing at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, was relieved as were six officers at Minot Air Force Base, according to the publication.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. Are there really that many bad apples in command positions? I’ve been out of the AF for quite a while. Educate me.

    • The number of bad apples is probably constant. There are just more mines out there to step on these days.

  2. It says ‘alleged misconduct’ – as he has been relieved of his duties does that mean it has been proved so now he has been relieved for actual misconduct?

    • One does not have to be convicted of a crime to be relieved of command. A credible allegation of misconduct against a commander destroys their subordinates’ and superiors’ trust in them and makes it virtually impossible for them to effectively lead their organization. If one wants to be a commander, one has to make absolutely sure their conduct is completely above reproach. Skeletons will come out of closets.

  3. I’m afraid that the services have become so sensitively correct, that actions and behavior previously just assumed to be human interaction are now prohibited. Good or bad? In order to not be shamed here, I’ll say good whether I believe it or not. Former USAF.

  4. IF I were a conspiracy theorist I’d say that this is another move by the administration to replace top military commanders with WOKE ones, but of course I’m not a conspiracy theorist.

  5. Fire first then investigate alleged misbehavior later. WOW! Be accused of something and you are in deep waters already…I guess this is the “new norm”

  6. For roger, ljnemecek, and Lewis: Can any of you bring us up to speed on what you know about this case that the rest of us don’t?

  7. Hopefully, the issue relates to “actual misconduct” and not Maj. Gen. Stewart’s pushing back against the WOKE policies that are being forced upon our Military! It WOULD NOT surprise me if that is the case.

  8. I usually immediately stop reading any post that uses the word “woke” as an adjective (especially in ALL CAPS) because no one who uses it can proffer any definition besides, “anything that the right wing of the Republican Party disagrees with”.

    But in this case, Rick, exactly how would this situation with this Major General be different if the “policies being forced on our Military” were more, um, “Neanderthalian”? Say, for example he was suspected of forming a posse comitatus to institute martial law on Disney World?

    As explained above, when the accusations are sufficiently serious and credible, it is common practice in business to temporarily remove the executive(s) involved until the matter is sorted out in court.

  9. My experience only, so hold the flames….

    I grew up in an AF family, then I was USAF Regular myself – then later I worked civilian for the Navy. So there is some experience here. What I have seen in the past is this…

    In the olden days accusers were openly derided and given nine yards of poo for accusing. Now I bet it’s better, but I don’t know that for sure.

    Once an officer is accused, it’s investigated informally by his “superiors”. If the situation is valid, the officer is removed from command. This way He can resign and keep his retirement. If he goes through the formal process and is found guilty, the Dishonorable Discharge puts the kaibash on that retirement. The big shots don’t want that to happen to one of their own, so it happens that way. It always felt to me like they felt bad for the guy because he got caught for something they all do. Of course, no proof of that but that’s what it felt like.

    If an enlisted man is accused, his family visits him in Leavenworth whenever they can.

    Not being cynical, just telling you what my experience has been.

  10. In the old days a Commander had to say” Nice tail feathers” to a female pilot, to be in hot water. Now you may have said “sir” when it identifies and a “ma’am”. We sure have small fragile egos about such things. To think back on all the things I have been called……oh remember mom telling us “sticks and stones may break my bones but NAMES will never hurt us”. We sure have fallen far.

  11. ” In my experience as a chief of staff of Surface Forces Atlantic, rarely was firing for personal conduct or leadership the result of a stand-alone event. There often was a series of lapses, frequently with counseling involved, that preceded the decision to end a career. In every case, there was a story with teaching points that a learning organization could use to improve behavior to avoid similar incidents.”—Captain John Cordle, U.S. Navy (Retired)

  12. Maj. Gen. Phillip A. Stewart, who has served as the 19th Air Force commander since August, was relieved of command Tuesday “due to a loss of confidence in his ability to lead, related to alleged misconduct which is currently under investigation,” the USAF PA release said.

    “The Air Force takes any misconduct allegation seriously and is committed to conducting a thorough investigation,” Lt. Gen. Brian S. Robinson, head of Air Education and Training Command, said in the release.

    A spokesperson for Air Education and Training Command would not categorize the type of misconduct and did not provide additional details regarding Stewart’s dismissal. The two-star is still in the Air Force and has been reassigned to a staff position at AETC headquarters.

    Stewart could not be reached by at numbers listed for him in public records.

    He was commissioned in 1992 through the Reserve Officer Training Corps after graduating from the Georgia Institute of Technology, according to his official Air Force biography. He served as an instructor and evaluator pilot in multiple aircraft, and he holds the rating of command pilot with more than 2,600 flying hours .He also has 600 hours of combat time over 168 combat missions.

    The 19th Air Force has more than 30,000 personnel and 1,530 aircraft assigned to 17 Wings located across the country. In his role, Stewart was responsible for more than 45% of the Air Force’s annual flying hour program, according to his biography.

    Prior to his role with the 19th Air Force, he served as the deputy chief of staff for strategic employment at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe in Belgium.

    The 19th Air Force vice commander, Brig. Gen. Christopher R. Amrhein, has been appointed as the interim 19th Air Force commander.

    Stewart is the latest in a string of Air Force commanders to be let go this year.