Air Force Gen. David Goldfein, currently the service's vice chief of staff, has been nominated to take over the top job with the retirement of Gen. Mark Welsh, the Defense Department announced today.
Welsh is set to retire this summer, wrapping up a 40-year career.
As the vice chief, Goldfein heads up the Air Staff and also serves on the Joint Chiefs of Staff Requirements Oversight Council and Deputy Advisory Working Group, according to his official biography. He previously served as director of the Joint Staff.
Goldfein, a 1983 graduate of the Air Force Academy, is a command pilot who flew combat missions in the Persian Gulf War, the Kosovo Campaign and, most recently, the war in Afghanistan. Goldfein has garnered more than 4,200 flying hours, including in the F-16C and D. In addition, he has chalked up time on the MQ-9 Reaper, the unmanned intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance drone, and the MC-12W, a turbo-prop ISR aircraft.
In December, guesses regarding Welsh's successor included Gen. Lori Robinson, head of Pacific Air Forces, and Gen. Darren McDew, head of U.S. Transportation Command, Defense News reported at the time.
Later that same month, in what may have been a hint as to the pecking order, Goldfein and his wife, Dawn, appeared in a holiday greetings to airmen alongside Welsh and his wife, Betty.