April 14, 2024

The commander of an Air Force maintenance squadron at Dyess Air Force Base in Texas was fired this week, just two months into his new role, after officials lost faith in his abilities to lead.

Lt. Col. Brian Milner, the commander of the 9th Bomb Squadron, was relieved of command on Monday due to “a loss of confidence in his ability to complete the assigned duties,” a spokesman for the 7th Bomb Wing told Military.com.

Lt. Col. Ryan Stillwell took over the command position and will be the permanent replacement, per the base.

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A vague, three-sentence statement from the 7th Bomb Wing on Monday said the squadron commander was removed from leadership and did not name the officer nor his replacement. The statement also added they would not be disclosing any additional information, claiming to “protect the privacy of the individual, further details will not be released.”

The services often don’t disclose specifics of why a commander is fired, typically citing the federal Privacy Act that protects military records, and rely on some variation of the phrase “loss of trust and confidence” instead of detailing the reasons behind a shake-up, including whether there was misconduct.

Officials from the 7th Bomb Wing later told Military.com the commander’s name and his replacement on Tuesday. Questions asking if Milner is still with the unit or if he’s facing any criminal investigation due to misconduct were not answered by base officials.

“New leadership is necessary to ensure good order and discipline and continued high performance within the organization,” the 7th Bomb Wing’s statement said.

The 7th Bomb Wing public affairs office said in July that Milner had recently assumed command of the 9th Bomb Squadron and was the unit’s first Black commander.

“You can’t let anybody tell you ‘no,'” Milner said to the audience after assuming command, according to the wing’s July press release. “People tend to discourage those who have set goals, but after you push forward, people will have the sense to stop keeping you from your goals.”

The 9th Bomb Squadron is a part of Air Force Global Strike Command and provides maintenance on the B-1B Lancer, a long-range bomber that at one point was nuclear capable but hasn’t been since 2007.

“The United States eliminated the nuclear mission for the B-1 in 1994,” an Air Force fact sheet detailed. “Even though the Air Force expended no further funding to maintain nuclear capabilities, the B-1 was still considered a heavy bomber equipped for nuclear armament until 2007.”

The Air Force unveiled its latest bomber, the B-21 Raider, late last year. It’s the first new bomber in the American military’s fleet in more than 30 years and aims to eventually replace the B-2, as well as the B-1B Lancer sometime in the 2030s.

The Pentagon plans to build 100 B-21s, more than the Air Force’s B-2 and B-1B Lancer fleets combined, with an average unit cost for each bomber of nearly $700 million, according to a service fact sheet.

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

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