Col. Jay Bertsch, commander of the 8th Maintenance Group at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea, was fired Oct. 11 due to a “loss of confidence” in his leadership, Air Force Times has learned.
Bertsch was reassigned outside of the unit after four months in the job, 8th Fighter Wing spokesperson Capt. K. Paige Hankerson said Tuesday. His deputy, Lt. Col. David Breuer, is standing in as the group’s new boss.
The Air Force declined to say why the unit lost faith in Bertsch or what disciplinary action he may face.
“As a reflection of the importance of our mission and responsibility leaders bear to guide airmen, the Wolf Pack holds its leaders to a high standard,” Hankerson said. “Out of respect for the member and due to the legal process, no further information is to be provided at this time.”
Bertsch assumed command on June 10, taking control of 1,100 people and a $2.4 million annual budget. The 8th Fighter Wing flies F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jets in the Pacific, the Pentagon’s top-priority region.
“He is responsible for daily flying and maintenance operations, intermediate-level maintenance, component repair and maintenance training for a combat wing with 43 permanently assigned … aircraft,” a cached version of his now-deleted official biography said.
Bertsch enlisted as a mechanic in 1990 and was commissioned as an officer in 2001.
He started his officer career at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, in 2002 before moving to Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, in 2005, according to his biography. There, he earned the title of Company Grade Officer of the Year as a captain at the 49th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.
Bertsch went on to hold multiple positions on the Joint Staff and in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, as well as at Air Force and Air Combat Command headquarters. He deployed to Iraq and Qatar in leadership roles and served as a squadron commander at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona.
Rachel Cohen is the editor of Air Force Times. She joined the publication as its senior reporter in March 2021. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Frederick News-Post (Md.), Air and Space Forces Magazine, Inside Defense, Inside Health Policy and elsewhere.