Gen. Selva, nominated to run USTRANSCOM, brings varied background to new job
By Mike Fitzgerald | Belleville News-Democrat | Published: February 11, 2014
SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE — Air Force Gen. Paul Selva would bring a wide-ranging portfolio with him if the U.S. Senate confirms his nomination next month as the next commander of the U.S. Transportation Command.
Selva, a 1980 Air Force Academy graduate, has served as commander of the Air Mobility Command, also based at Scott, since November 2012, when he received his fourth star as a general.
Selva, whose nomination was announced Friday by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, would succeed Gen. William Fraser III, USTRANSCOM's top commander since October 2011.
Selva has made it clear that he realizes the Air Force faces a tough fiscal environment.
On his Twitter feed the day before his nomination, Selva tweeted that "Over the course of the past year our (Air Force) has faced hard realities. Tough call on how we spend money & manage our training programs."
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Springfield, issued a statement supporting the four-star general.
"General Selva's experience at Air Mobility Command has prepared him well to take on this critical new assignment at Scott Air Force Base," Durbin said. "I look forward to voting on his nomination as soon as possible in the Senate."
Selva is a former vice commander of the Pacific Air Forces and oversaw development of the KC-46A next-generation air tanker, a $52 billion program that has remained on track after a decade of delays caused by scandals and bureaucratic mistakes.
Chosen as one of "Defense News 100 Most Influential," Selva served as a top military adviser for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Selva also has logged 3,100 hours as a pilot of military aircraft that include the C5, C17A, KC-10 and KC-135A.
Selva's wide-ranging experience and leadership skills make him a superb choice to serve as USTRANSCOM'S next commander, said Mark Gunzinger, an analyst at Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a non-partisan military think tank in Washington, D.C.
"He's well-liked by his people" because he "establishes a vision that people understand and can follow," Gunzinger said. "I just always found him to be very people-oriented, not just mission-oriented. I think that's an attribute that serves a four-star (general) very, very well."
If confirmed by the Senate -- which appears extremely likely, according to Gunzinger -- Selva faces a litany of tough challenges as USTRANSCOM's next commander.
They include the support of overseas contingency operations, and modernizing the Air Force's mobility forces, especially the new KC-46A air tanker, which will be phased into the Air Force beginning in several years, according to Gunzinger.
"As well as coping with a decreasing budget," he said. "That's a lot of requirements to establish the right balance."
Selva is set to appear next month before the U.S. Senate's armed services panel. In all likelihood, the committee will approve his nomination and send it to the full U.S. Senate for a vote by some time April.
"And then they'll have the vote, and then he's sworn in," Gunzinger said. "It normally doesn't take more than a couple months."
Selva has commanded at the squadron, group, wing and headquarters levels.
He served at Scott previously as the 618th Air and Space Operations Center (Tanker Airlift Control Center) vice commander, then commander, and later as USTRANSCOM's director of operations and logistics.
In 2012, when Selva assumed command of AMC, Air Force Chief of Staff Mark Welsh III told his audience at the ceremony that he was "supremely confident in Paul's ability and we're excited to see his passion for airmen shared with all of you."
As AMC commander, Gen. Selva oversaw all mobility air units consisting of almost 134,000 personnel from active duty, Air National Guard, and Air Force Reserve units.