New Air Force Chief of Staff Warns of 'Formidable Challenges' in First Message to Service

Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. David W. Allvin makes remarks after being sworn in as the Air Force’s 23rd chief of staff at Falcon Stadium, U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo.
Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. David W. Allvin makes remarks after being sworn in as the Air Force’s 23rd chief of staff at Falcon Stadium, U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo., Nov. 2, 2023. (Staff Sgt. Stuart Bright/U.S. Air Force photo)

Gen. David Allvin waited in the wings for nearly 100 days to take over as the Air Force's top uniformed officer and, after finally being confirmed by the Senate last week, he's ready to hit the ground running.

In his first prepared message to the Air Force, an early copy of which was provided to, Allvin warned airmen of the threats they face. His remarks come during the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, troubling conflicts in the Middle East between Israel and Hamas, and growing tensions in the Pacific with China. To tackle those difficult tasks, he told the service he wants to "follow through" on all his predecessors' accomplishments and apply them to new challenges.

"We know each of us is serving in a place of importance in this great Air Force, and in a time of extraordinary consequence," Allvin wrote to the force. "We know the challenges. ... Let's follow through and meet them head on!"

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After being nominated in July, Allvin was finally confirmed by the Senate on Thursday to serve as the 23rd Air Force chief of staff, taking over for Gen. Charles "C.Q." Brown -- who left the role after he was appointed by President Joe Biden to serve as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

In his letter to the service, Allvin highlighted his predecessors -- including Brown -- and praised their accomplishments.

"Standing on the shoulders of giants who have led -- and are still leading -- our team, we can see further and more clearly," Allvin said. "Gen. Brown (CSAF #22) has been, among other things, our conscience -- reminding us not only of the need to accelerate, but the consequences of failure to do so ... losing."

An Air Force official close to Allvin, who provided comment to on condition of anonymity, said the general is eager to build off his predecessors' ideas but has been workshopping his own vision for some time.

"He has all the personal attributes to propel the needed initiatives forward," the official said. "He's also got continuity of ideas that spans the last several chiefs of staff. He's been shaping his vision for years so he can move out immediately now that he's in the seat."

In addition to rising conflicts across the globe, there are a host of issues facing the Air Force, including a continuing pilot shortage, aging aircraft and the worst recruiting environment since 1999.

In his letter to airmen, Allvin didn't directly mention recruiting, but pointed out that the service "must follow through on our commitment to the success of the team" and hinted at some of the ongoing recruiting policy reforms the Air Force has taken on the last couple of years, ranging from raising the maximum enlistment age to new tattoo policies.

"It means uplifting our wingmen, while holding ourselves accountable for our actions," Allvin wrote. "It means removing barriers while maintaining and enforcing standards."

Allvin and Brown's path to their new positions was a waiting game, one exacerbated by Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., and his hold that has blocked the Senate from confirming hundreds of high-level military promotions since February.

And while the two Air Force generals were eventually confirmed, more than 370 of the military's high-ranking officers -- over 100 of whom are the Air Force's top brass -- are still in limbo.

Allvin raised the concern about Tuberville's holds during a Sept. 12 confirmation hearing, saying he was worried about the "signal that this may send" and that the move "affects us in both of those areas of recruiting and retention."

The official close to Allvin told the general still shares those worries, noting that the People's Republic of China, known as the PRC, are seeing that leadership chaos unfold.

"The PRC sees our leadership positions in limbo," the official close to Allvin said. "They are watching and eating this up. And while they watch, they have the pedal to the metal to modernize their own forces. The hold makes us stationary, while the PRC advances."

-- Thomas Novelly can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @TomNovelly.

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