Air Force officials have relieved Brig. Gen. Paul R. Birch of his duties as commander of the 36th Wing at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. Pacific Air Forces said his removal was due to personal conduct shortfalls that occurred before he held that position. Lt. Gen. David Nahom, commander of the 11th Air Force responsible for overseeing the 36th Wing, stated that commanders must always be held to the highest standards. The services do not usually disclose specific information as to why a commander has been fired citing the federal Privacy Act, which protects military records. Although the announcement of Birch’s firing points to personal conduct as a reason, Major Lauren Ott, a spokeswoman for the 11th Air Force, confirmed that he is not facing a criminal investigation. Birch will be moved to the Pentagon to work with Air Force headquarters.
Birch became commander of the 36th Wing in June 2022. The Wing consists of 8,000 joint military and civilian personnel based at Andersen who help support missions in the Indo-Pacific, according to the 11th Air Force. Birch began his career after graduating from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1996, as per an official Air Force biography. During his nearly 30 years in service, he flew as a command pilot with over 2,100 flying hours and over 750 combat hours supporting Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, Inherent Resolve and Resolute Support. He previously served as commander of the 4th Operations Support Squadron at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina; the 93rd Air Ground Operations Wing at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, and the 380th Expeditionary Operations Group at Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates.
The interim wing commander is Colonel Larry Fenner Jr. following Birch’s removal. The announcement comes after two commanders and four subordinates were fired at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, due to a failed safety inspection. Furthermore, a commander of a special operations squadron in Florida was also removed last month following an alleged drunk driving hit and run.
In conclusion, commanders must always demonstrate the highest standards of personal conduct in the Air Force, and Brig. Gen. Paul R. Birch was relieved of his duties as such. Although the reason for his firing points to personal conduct shortfalls, no criminal investigation is ongoing. Birch’s military service has spanned nearly 30 years, with extensive flying hours in combat zones, serving in numerous leadership roles across the globe. The interim wing commander is Col. Larry Fenner Jr. News of Birch’s removal follows recently reported similar incidents in the Air Force.