Air Force Fires Guam Commander for 'Shortfalls in His Personal Conduct'

U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Paul R. Birch salutes.
U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Paul R. Birch renders his first salute during the 36th Wing change of command ceremony, June 10, 2022, at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ryan Brooks)

Air Force officials have fired a commander who oversaw a base in Guam and said his removal was due to conduct that occurred before he held that position.

Brig. Gen. Paul R. Birch, commander of the 36th Wing at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, was relieved of his duties "due to shortfalls in his personal conduct prior to taking command," according to a Monday press release from Pacific Air Forces.

"I did not make this decision lightly," Lt. Gen. David Nahom, commander of the 11th Air Force -- which oversees the 36th Wing, said in the press release. "Commanders must always be held to the highest standards."

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Typically, the services don't disclose specific details of why a commander is fired, often citing the federal Privacy Act, which protects military records. But the announcement of Birch's firing points to personal conduct as a reason, and Maj. Lauren Ott, a spokeswoman for the 11th Air Force, told on Tuesday that he is not facing a criminal investigation.

Ott added that Birch will be moved to the Pentagon to work with Air Force headquarters.

Birch became the commander of the 36th Wing last June. The 36th 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, according to an official Air Force biography. During his nearly 30 years in the service, he flew as a command pilot with more than 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.

Col. Larry Fenner Jr., 36th Wing vice commander, is serving as the interim wing commander following Birch's removal, according to the press release.

News of Birch's removal comes weeks after two commanders and four subordinates were fired at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, after a failed safety inspection. It also follows the removal of a commander of a special operations squadron in Florida last month.

-- Thomas Novelly can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @TomNovelly.

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