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Air Force postpones plan to install base commander due to misconduct investigation

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The Royal Canadian Air Force is delaying plans to install a new commander at one of the country’s two CF-18 fighter jet bases due to a military police investigation.

A ceremony was planned for Tuesday to install Col. Colin Marks as commander of 3 Wing in Bagotville, Que.

But those plans are now on hold as police investigate an alleged incident at Canada’s other main CF-18 base, 4 Wing in Cold Lake, Alta., more than two months ago.

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Air Force commander Lt.-Gen. Eric Kenny announced the delay on Monday, saying investigators are looking into comments allegedly made during a meeting designed to choose call-signs, or nicknames, for fighter pilots.

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“On June 22, at 4 Wing Cold Lake, a call-sign review board, where call-signs are assigned to members associated with the fighter community, took place in a small group social setting,” Kenny said in a statement.

“An investigation was launched into statements made during this activity and remains ongoing. The investigation will examine actions of those involved during the call-sign review board.”

While Kenny did not provide further details, the Defence Department in a followup email said multiple people were at the meeting.

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Neither Kenny nor the department would provide further details, citing a need to protect the integrity of the investigation.

Marks could not immediately be reached for comment.

Fighter pilots and weapons officers flying on fighter jets are typically assigned call-signs at unit social gatherings where members share stories and anecdotes about each other, according to the Defence Department.

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“Possible call signs are suggested by peers and voted on by the group,” it added. “Attributing call-signs to members, particularly within the fighter and air weapons controller communities is a tradition meant to foster esprit de corps.”

The Canadian Armed Forces has continued to deal with the fallout from a rash of inappropriate _ and in some cases criminal _ behaviour by senior officers.

The commanders of two naval frigates were relieved of their commands in June, though officials have said neither was related to allegations of sexual misconduct.

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