The commodore of the Navy's Strategic Communications Wing 1, based at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, was fired Tuesday after a loss of confidence in her ability to lead. Capt. Heather Cole had "not performed up to the high standards demanded of an officer in command," Naval Air Forces said in a press release.
Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, the AIRFOR boss, relieved Cole of command of the wing and Task Force 124, an operational command post that reports to U.S. Strategic Command.
The relief stemmed from an investigation Shoemaker launched in February based on revelations of significant issues within the wing, said Cmdr. Jeannie Groeneveld, AIRFOR spokeswoman.
Cole's shortcomings were professional in nature, she said, and unfolded over time, adding that she could not comment further as the investigation has not been completed.
"The relief was due to deficiencies in her performance that were identified in the findings of the investigation," Groeneveld said. The deficiencies had nothing to do with TF-124's Strategic Nuclear Forces mission, she said, but instead were "cultural issues" within the wing itself.
Cole has been temporarily assigned to the San Diego-based staff of AIRFOR pending the outcome of the investigation.
Cole did not respond to calls and emails seeking comment by Thursday.
Capt. Brian McCormick, who has served as the task force's deputy commander, has been named the acting wing commander.
The post answers to two masters. Strategic Communications Wing 1 reports to AIRFOR on the manning and training of the E-6B Mercury squadrons that fly the airborne command post.
The wing's operational side, Task Force 124, is part of the nuclear command and control echelon and reports to U.S. Strategic Command on missions like Airborne Command Post, the Airborne Launch Control System, the Non-Strategic Nuclear Forces Theater Commanders and the "Take Charge and Move Out" (TACAMO) Emergency Action Message relay.
A native of Ferris, Texas, Cole is a graduate of the University of Texas and received her commission through Aviation Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, Florida, in 1990. She received her wings in 1991, according to her official bio.
Cole, a naval flight officer, served first in P-3 aircraft at various assignments until she transitioned to the TACAMO community in 1993.
She also served as the aviation initial assignment detailer, first in Washington, D.C., and then making the move to Millington, Tennessee, in 1999 when Navy Personnel Command relocated there. From 2000 to 2003, Cole served as the operations administrative officer aboard the aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman.