Navy fires commander of strategic air wing; cites investigation and 'loss of confidence'

The Navy fired the commander of an organization whose aircraft allow the president and the secretary of defense to directly contact the submarines, bombers and land-based missiles that comprise the nation's strategic nuclear force.

A Navy statement said Capt. Heather E. Cole was relieved of her duties as commander of Strategic Communications Wing 1, based at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, for what it called a "loss of confidence" in her ability to lead.

A spokeswoman, Cmdr. Jeannie Groeneveld, said the firing was based on findings of an investigation into her management of the wing. Details were not released.

Cole's air wing has no role in operating nuclear weapons but is responsible for the Navy squadrons whose E-6B Mercury aircraft provide communications links between the president and the nuclear forces.