The Air Force is going to have to move faster if it's going to keep up with rapidly developing threats and challenges, the service's 23rd chief of staff, Gen. David W. Allvin, said Friday morning in a ceremony marking his elevation to the role. The event was hosted by recently confirmed chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Allvin's predecessor Gen. CQ Brown after months of delay by a gridlocked Senate.
"Among the biggest challenges in pursuit of our destination is time, as the future rushes toward us at a breathtaking pace," Allvin said. "We have accelerated change and now must turn this momentum into outcomes. The clock is ticking and the time to execute is now."
Allvin takes office as a range of emerging and ongoing conflicts rage and corners of the world become increasingly unstable, with wars between Russia and Ukraine, Israel and Hamas, the intensifying relationship between China and Taiwan, and the role of the U.S. military shifting in the middle of it all.
"Our job is to ensure that when other international actors consider reaching into
that toolbox for a device labeled 'military conflict,' they rightfully consider that an
unwise choice," Allvin said. "And should they make that choice, we must make them regret that decision."
The Air Force is also facing a continuing pilot shortage, aging aircraft and the worst recruiting environment of the last two decades.
The Senate confirmed Allvin as the 23rd Air Force chief of staff Nov. 2, after his nomination by President Joe Biden in July. Allvin's confirmation was one of the more than 370 high-ranking military officers that had been caught in a Senate block led by Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala. More than 118 top-ranking Air and Space Force officers are still waiting for their own confirmations to various positions, Secretary Frank Kendall said at the ceremony.
Tuberville temporarily lightened his chokehold on nominations after the commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Eric Smith, suffered a cardiac arrest Oct. 29 with no confirmed assistant commandant to take his place. Allvin, new Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Lisa Franchetti and the Marine Corps' No. 2, Lt. Gen. Christopher Mahoney, were confirmed days later on Nov. 2, though the movement does not appear to represent a permanent change of heart for Tuberville. The senator continues to insist his actions are not impacting the military's war-fighting ability, arguing that "people are doing their jobs."
Both Brown, who stepped down as the 22nd chief in order to serve as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Allvin discussed the need to ensure policies and tactics are updated as conflicts continue to evolve, as well as the need to match and outpace the technological advancements of adversaries such as the People's Republic of China.
"The opportunities to exploit technological advancements are both more frequent and more fleeting," Allvin elaborated. "We must be proactive in pursuit of these opportunities, and not be shackled by a false perception that we must have a flawless plan with precision in the prediction of its outcome before executing."
The new chief wrapped up his speech with his pledge to always be faithful first and foremost to his airmen. "We honor their commitment best by providing first-rate training, equipment and an
environment that allows them to reach their full potential as they answer our nation's call," he said.
Allvin graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1986 and has since served as a command pilot with more than 4,600 flight hours, over 100 of which were in combat. Throughout his career, Allvin has also held several joint staff positions, including as commanding general for Air Training Command-Afghanistan and NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan/Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan, and commander of the 438th Air Expeditionary Wing.
Prior to his confirmation as chief of staff, Allvin served as the director for strategy and policy at U.S. European Command and most recently as the vice chief of staff of the Air Force.
-- Rachel Nostrant is a freelance reporter and Marine veteran. She has previously worked for Military Times, Reuters and others, covering the war in Ukraine and U.S. national affairs. She is on X @rachelnostrant.