F-16 Pilot General Welsh to be Next Air Force Chief of Staff

General Mark Welsh, the current commander of USAFE, has been nominated by the President to become the next Chief of Staff of the Air Force.  If confirmed, he would represent a return of the fighter pilot to the Chief position, which was filled for the first time by a non-fighter/bomber pilot with current Chief General Norton Schwartz.

“It’s always a great day to be an Airman … but this one is extra special for me. I came into the Air Force because I was in love with the airplanes; I stayed in because I fell in love with the people,” [Welsh] said. “Being allowed to continue to serve them, our Joint partners, and the nation in this role would be the privilege of a lifetime.”

General Welsh has 3,400 flight hours, primarily in the F-16 and A-10, and many awards — including the Distinguished Flying Cross, twice.

General Welsh is a 1976 USAFA graduate and a former commandant of cadets at the US Air Force Academy.  He seems to be universally praised and is extremely well-known for his popular speeches on leadership, many of which are on YouTube.

His nomination has yet to be confirmed by the Senate.  Currently, all Air Force nominations have been put on hold due to political wrangling over base closure and budget issues.