Senate confirms new Air Force, AFRICOM commanders
June 30, 2016
Two top generals nominated to lead the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Africa Command were approved by the U.S. Senate late Wednesday.
Air Force Gen. David Goldfein, was the service’s vice chief of staff before his confirmation as the Air Force chief of staff. He replaces the recently retired Gen. Mark A. Welsh.
Marine Lt. Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, who serves as director of joint force development with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will receive a fourth star in connection with his confirmation to head U.S. Africa Command.
Waldhauser will replace retiring Gen. David Rodriguez, who has led AFRICOM for the past three years.
For Waldhauser, a key area of focus will likely be instability in Libya and concerns about the Islamic State group attempting to establish a foothold there.
During June 21 testimony before the Senate, Waldhauser said the U.S. currently lacks a “grand strategy” in Libya and that a more aggressive approach could be needed to deal with the Islamic State’s branch in northern Africa.
Goldfein, meanwhile, brings a storied history of combat experience to the job. In addition to flying combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, he also served in the 1999 campaignin Kosovo. During one mission, his F-16C was stuck by a surface-to-air missile, forcing him to eject to safety on a Kosovo field. He was recovered hours later by a U.S. rescue team.
“There is not a better person to lead our airmen into the next century of Airpower dominance,” Air Force Secretary Deborah James said in a statement at the time of Goldfein’s nomination.