Editor’s note: This story was updated with an Air Force statement about the nomination.
President Joe Biden has tapped Gen. David Allvin as his nominee to serve as the next Air Force chief of staff, the White House announced Wednesday.
That puts Allvin, who has served as Air Force vice chief of staff since November 2020, in line to lead the service in the midst of a massive paradigm shift to prepare its troops and equipment for a new era of war.
“I am honored and privileged to be nominated as the next chief of staff of the Air Force,” Allvin said in a statement from the service Wednesday evening. “If confirmed, I will continue the tradition and legacy of integrity, service and excellence that this position requires.”
If confirmed by the Senate, the career mobility pilot and strategist would replace Gen. CQ Brown, the current Air Force chief of staff who is nominated to chair the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“Gen. Dave Allvin is the right leader for this defining decade, as our Air Force continues to adapt to the evolving global security environment, and ensure we have the culture, concepts and capabilities needed to compete and win in a highly contested environment,” Brown said in the Air Force release. “His expertise in strategy and planning will be crucial to the service’s success in this era of sustained strength and deterrence.”
Air Force Times first reported in May that Allvin was the Air Force’s internal pick for chief of staff, the frontrunner among candidates that included U.S. Transportation Command boss Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost and Pacific Air Forces boss Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach.
Sources described him as a well-read, professorial leader with the self-discipline and Washington know-how to make an impact.
As head of the third-largest branch of the armed forces, Allvin would manage a $180 billion budget and 689,000 uniformed and civilian employees around the world over the course of a four-year term. He would also hold one of eight seats on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The Air Force is asking Congress to grant it a $185 billion budget in fiscal 2024 and green-light the next phase of a sweeping plan to retire hundreds of older aircraft that leaders say will be ineffective in future wars.
Allvin will inherit “a lot of the same problems” that Brown has faced, one retired four-star told Air Force Times, “which are primarily how to convince the system that, after 30 years of underfunding the Air Force, it’s going to take some fairly drastic measures to let them catch up with the efforts China has made.”
The four-star earned his officer commission from the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado in 1986, according to his official biography. He learned to fly cargo aircraft before becoming a test pilot, training wing commander, and head of the 618th Air and Space Operations Center — Air Mobility Command’s hub for tasking tanker and airlift missions around the world.
Allvin has also risen through command jobs and strategy and planning roles at the Pentagon, Air Force headquarters, U.S. European Command, the United Nations and NATO. He has amassed more than 4,600 flight hours in nearly a dozen airframes.
It’s a good year for the vices: Each of Biden’s nominees to lead the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps currently serve as the No. 2 officer in their respective branches.
Air Force Times previously reported that Lt. Gen. Jim Slife, the Air Force’s deputy chief of staff for operations and a leader in the special operations community, was also on deck to replace Allvin as vice chief of staff. It’s the first time in more than a decade that neither the Air Force chief of staff or its vice chief would hail from a fighter background.
Still, it’s unclear how soon Allvin may be able to take the top job. He joins nearly 300 military officials who are ensnared in Alabama Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s monthslong hold on Pentagon nominees in protest of the department’s abortion-related policies.
The Air Force and the White House did not comment on the nomination by press time.
Rachel Cohen is the editor of Air Force Times. She joined the publication as its senior reporter in March 2021. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Frederick News-Post (Md.), Air and Space Forces Magazine, Inside Defense, Inside Health Policy and elsewhere.