Maj. Gen. Phillip Stewart, commander of the Air Force’s pilot training enterprise, was removed from his post Tuesday amid an investigation into his alleged misconduct.
Air Education and Training Command boss Lt. Gen. Brian Robinson relieved Stewart of command “due to a loss of confidence in his ability to lead” after less than a year in the job, spokesperson Capt. Lauren Woods said in an email Wednesday. She declined to elaborate on the nature of the allegations.
Stewart’s deputy, Brig. Gen. Christopher Amrhein, will serve as interim commander until further notice. Replacing the organization’s top officer is intended to “ensure good order and discipline and continued high performance,” the service said.
“The Air Force takes any misconduct allegation seriously and is committed to conducting a thorough investigation,” Robinson said in the release.
As the head of 19th Air Force, Stewart oversaw 32,000 employees and more than 1,500 aircraft across the United States since taking command last August. The San Antonio-based organization is in charge of training around 27,000 American and foreign aviators on about two dozen different airframes each year, according to his official biography.
Before arriving at Joint Base San Antonio, Stewart served as a deputy chief of staff at NATO’s military headquarters in Belgium. He commanded NATO’s Global Hawk force and its air advisors in Afghanistan, earning the NATO Meritorious Service Medal from the alliance’s secretary general, according to his biography.
The two-star general trained as an F-15C pilot after joining the Air Force in 1992, then became an instructor and evaluator on a range of other special operations and intelligence-collection aircraft, his biography said. He ran the 9th Reconnaissance Wing at Beale Air Force Base, California, as well.
Stewart amassed more than 600 hours in combat over 168 missions, earning the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit and Bronze Star Medal.
Several other Air Force officials have been fired so far this year, including six officers tasked with managing infrastructure, fuel and logistics support at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota, and Brig. Gen. Paul Birch, commander of the 36th Wing at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam.
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.