Gen. Mark Welsh has been nominated to serve as the Air Force‘s next chief of staff, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced in a release Thursday.
If confirmed, Welsh would succeed Gen. Norton Schwartz, who began serving as chief of staff in August 2008 and will complete his four-year term this coming August.
Panetta said he has developed a “deep appreciation for (Welsh’s) wisdom and his counsel” during his tenure as CIA director.
They worked together while Welsh served as the CIA’s associate director for military affairs from August 2008 to December 2010.
Schwartz said the Air Force is at an inflection point as it shapes a smaller, more agile force in what he called a complex geopolitical and security environment.
Welsh currently serves as commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe, where he leads airmen in 51 countries located in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and the Arctic and Atlantic oceans.