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ND base commander ousted due to poor fitness

GRAND FORKS -- The ousted commander of Grand Forks Air Force Base says the Air Force's decision to relieve him of command because of his failure to comply with physical fitness standards is "right, just and fair."

Commanders have to meet the standards they expect of the people they oversee, Col. Tim Bush said.

"If you can't meet the standard, how do you hold them to the standard?" he said.

Maj. Gen. William Bender, the U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center commander, relieved the 47-year-old Bush of command of the 319th Air Base Wing on Wednesday due to failure to comply with physical fitness standards, the Air Force said in a statement. The military made clear that Bush wasn't relieved for any alleged misconduct or wrongdoing.

The Air Force requires all airmen, including officers, to meet requirements for push-ups, sit-ups, distance running and waistline size. Men cannot have waists bigger than 39 inches. Bush said he fell short of the waistline requirement by inches.

"I failed to meet the waist measurement component of the physical fitness standard," he said. "That's the only component I failed."

Bush, who is 6-foot-1 and 227 pounds, is not criticizing the Air Force decision.

"I am not in the best shape of my life," he said. "I spend a lot more time doing administrative work than I would like."

Bush is a graduate of the Air Force Academy and has been on active duty for a quarter century. He had commanded the Grand Forks base since July 2011. He now plans to retire from the military.

Vice Commander Col. Christopher Mann has assumed command of the 319th and the base. Bush said he is confident in Mann as the leader.

Bush called his own chance to command the base "an honor and a privilege." He said he has always been physically able to do what was needed, and has done whatever was required or asked of him.

"But I'm not a little guy," he said.