David Goldfein to serve as US Air Force’s highest ranking officer

Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) — David Goldfein, the vice chief of staff of the US Air Force, was nominated to serve as the branch’s highest-ranking officer.

The Pentagon announced on Tuesday Goldfein’s nomination by President Barack Obama as the 21st Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force.

Goldfein is set to succeed General Mark A. Welsh III, who has served in the position since 2012, the Air Force said in a statement. He is Jewish and has served as a fighter jet pilot. Goldfein, 57, flew during the Gulf War, in Afghanistan and in NATO’s missions in Yugoslavia, according to the Air Force Times.

His F-16 fighter jet was downed over Serbia in 1999 after a surface-to-air missile exploded near its belly in an operation near the city of Belgrade, forcing Goldfein to eject and parachute into an open field by moonlight. He was rescued shortly after the crash by an HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter, the Washington Post reported.


If Senate confirms his appointment, Goldfein will be the second Jew serving in this position, following the four-year tenure of Norton Schwartz, who preceded Welsh.

“I’m extremely humbled by the nomination to serve as the Air Force’s 21st chief of staff. If confirmed, I pledge to serve our Airmen and their families unwaveringly and honor our remarkable heritage and legacy of integrity, service and excellence,” Goldfein said.

“General Mark and Betty Welsh continue to be exceptional stewards of our service, and Dawn and I are honored to follow in their footsteps,” he added.

The Air Force chief of staff is a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, top military advisors to the president and secretary of defense.

“He knows how to build and sustain key partnerships, has important warfighting experience, and will exercise the critical judgement required to balance our manpower and resources as we shape tomorrow’s Air Force,” Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said in a statement about Goldfein.