Air Force Gen. David Allvin took over on Sunday as the service’s acting chief of staff, becoming its highest-ranking officer in the midst of a sweeping effort to prepare for a new era of war.

Allvin, a career mobility pilot and military strategist who has served as the Air Force’s vice chief of staff since November 2020, will hold the top role in an unofficial capacity until he is formally confirmed by the Senate.

His predecessor, Gen. CQ Brown, was sworn in as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Sept. 29 after three years as the Air Force’s top uniformed leader.

As acting chief of staff, Allvin now oversees a nearly $180 billion portfolio and around 689,000 uniformed and civilian employees across the active duty Air Force, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve. He also becomes one of eight members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Pentagon’s advisory panel comprised of its most senior officers.

President Joe Biden nominated Allvin to lead the Air Force for a four-year term in July.

If confirmed, he will become the public face of a slate of ambitious reforms to the Air Force’s aging aircraft inventory and its deployment plans, as well as efforts to improve sagging recruitment, diversify the workforce and prepare airmen to vie with China and Russia for military influence around the world.

Lt. Gen. Jim Slife, Biden’s nominee to succeed Allvin as vice chief of staff, will stay in his current role as the Air Force’s deputy chief of staff for operations until the Senate approves his promotion as well.

It’s unclear when Allvin and Slife might secure congressional approval to fill their respective jobs. They join more than 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.

Senators could opt to work around the hold by bringing individual officers up for confirmation votes rather than approve them in batches, as is the norm.

The Senate confirmed Brown as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Randy George as chief of staff of the Army, and Gen. Eric Smith as commandant of the Marine Corps through roll call votes in September.

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.

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