Former war pilot picked as next Air Force chief of staff

The Obama administration is tapping former war pilot Gen. David Goldfein as the next Air Force chief of staff.

Air Force chief of staff
Gen. David Goldfein

If confirmed by the Senate, Goldfein will succeed Gen. Mark Welsh as the Air Force’s 21st chief of staff. Welsh has been serving in the position since 2012 and is retiring July 1.

In an April 29 speech announcing the nomination, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Goldfein’s extensive political and military experience will be of great advantage to the Air Force.

Goldfien “has demonstrated superb skill as a consensus builder and manager during a time when our joint force’s need for the Air Force’s global vigilance, global reach and global power has only increased,” Carter said at the Pentagon.

Goldfein currently serves at the Air Force vice chief of staff as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Requirements Oversight Council and Deputy Advisory working group.

Before taking on his current position, Goldfein was the director of the Joint Staff.

In 1999, Goldfein was flying a mission over Serbia when his F-16 was shot down.

“Once on the ground, Goldfein fell face-first down a ravine, but was comforted by the sound of NATO jets continuing to fly overhead. … He maneuvered about two miles on the ground until he found a spot suitable to be picked up by an HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter,” a Washington Post article on the incident stated.

Goldfien is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy and has a master’s in business administration from Oklahoma City University.

“Dave will bring his extensive experience and unique qualifications to bear as the Air Force seeks to address the increasingly complex and very challenging geopolitical environment,” said Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James. “He has played a major, major role in developing the Air Force’s budget, in developing the Air Force’s input and contribution to the third offset strategy and also has worked tirelessly to increase our capabilities in all three of our warfighting domains.”