Lt. Col. Wade Workman is relieved of duties after a 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing command investigation found he had created a hostile work environment.
The San Diego Union Tribune reports that Miramar spokesman Capt. Kurt M. Stahl indicated that Workman was not relieved over allegations of misconduct or criminal activity but rather “an unhealthy command climate that negatively impacted trust within the unit that is critical to effective operations.”
Through a redacted version of the investigation requested by the Marine Corps Times via a Freedom Of Information Act request, its findings say Workman’s behavior was confrontational and he was reluctant to listen to maintainers and pilots regarding their concerns.
“Lt. Col. Workman has engaged pilots and maintainers on several occasions in a confrontational way,” the investigation found. “This had led to a reluctance on the part of squadron personnel to engage with him about aircraft maintenance or flight issues. This may not meet the strict definition of berating behavior, but it clearly has negatively affected the squadron’s culture of trust.”
Workman is the fourth commander in the aviation community to be fired in 2016, a year when the service’s aviation crisis hit full boil. He declined to comment when contacted by Marine Corps Times on Thursday. When contacted by the San Diego Union Tribune in December, Workman, 41, said, “It just didn’t work out.”
In a time that sees the Marine Corp deputy commandant for aviation saying Wednesday that if his service doesn’t receive more money, it can’t continue to fund its aviation requirements, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 232 failed three inspections — in June, September and November — and it was later forced to stop flight operations after one officer called the unit “the worst squadron he had inspected in his 35 squadron inspections in the Wing,” the investigation found.
The Marine Corps Times reports, “The multiple inspection failures were a consequence of Lt. Col. Workman’s unwillingness to listen to his maintenance department leadership and to comply with suspected adjustments,” according to the investigation.
Workman’s management style caused leadership to lose trust and confidence in his ability to continue to serve and lead the ‘Red Devils.’
Marines under Workman’s command said he would yell and scream at maintainers and pilots over maintenance issues, the investigation found. One squadron member told the investigating officer, “If I down this jet what is the Skipper going to say to me? I feel like we force it.”
Others complained that Workman pushed the sortie count so hard maintainers did not have any time for maintenance days and technical training, according to the investigation.
Apparently disengaged from the workplace environment or his subordinates’ concerns, Workman told the investigating officer that he was unaware the training wasn’t taking place and he was caught off guard when inspections revealed the training shortfalls.
During his tenure two F/A-18 Hornets were lost … one crash killed Marine aviator Maj. Richard Norton, although the recent investigation did not find any evidence that the squadron is flying aircraft that are unsafe, according to the Marine Corps Times.
The investigation lead, Maj. Gen. Mark Wise, commanding general of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, to fire Workman “due to a loss of trust and confidence” in Workman’s ability to lead the squadron “based on issues concerning command climate,” said Capt. Kurt Stahl, a spokesman for the wing.
“Leaders are responsible for holding themselves and their units to a standard – a standard that enables 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing to effectively operate as an integral part of the Marine Air Ground Task Force in defense of the nation,” Stahl said.
“The majority of units and leaders meet and exceed expectations and are accomplishing amazing things each and every day. When the standard is not met, corrective actions are taken and sometimes that includes making changes in leadership.”
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