Gen. David Allvin Emerges as Leading Candidate for Air Force Chief of Staff: A Strategic Shift in Command?

According to multiple sources, Gen. David Allvin, who currently stands as the Air Force’s second-in-command, has surfaced as the top choice to serve as the next chief of staff. With a longstanding career as a mobility pilot and strategist, Allvin has been the Air Force vice chief of staff since late 2020. His extensive service experience and innovative approach make him the favored candidate of Gen. CQ Brown Jr., the incumbent top officer expected to receive President Biden’s nomination for the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Allvin’s potential right-hand man, Lt. Gen. Jim Slife, currently the Air Force’s deputy chief of staff for operations, also enjoys widespread recognition within the special operations community.

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Photo: Richard Eldridge/Air Force

If nominated and confirmed, Allvin and Slife will oversee a nearly $180 billion budget and about 689,000 uniformed airmen and civilians, working towards modernizing the Air Force’s aircraft inventory, digital transformation of the force, and appealing to young Americans to enlist. However, the confirmation of these nominations is far from certain, with one source asserting that the process is approximately 80% complete.

Other possible contenders include Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost, head of U.S. Transportation Command, and Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach, recently nominated to lead Air Combat Command.

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The final decision remains in the hands of President Biden, with the timeline for interviews and final selection unclear. It is also within the President’s prerogative to go against any recommendations from the Department of Defense regarding the nominations, as noted by Arnold Punaro, a defense consultant and retired Marine Corps two-star general. Similarly, the Defense Secretary, Lloyd Austin, can present his preferred candidate.

Once the Pentagon approves, the nominations will move to the White House Military Office and the National Security Council for further examination.

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Allvin’s remarkable career trajectory, starting as a cargo pilot and leading to his current position after a series of strategic roles at the Pentagon and other organizations, lends him a reputation as a master navigator of the federal bureaucracy and a strong advocate for the Air Force.

Upon assuming the role, Allvin must grapple with the Air Force’s budget and recruitment challenges, particularly in attracting and retaining pilots, maintainers, and cyber operators. Despite these challenges, the four-star retired general expressed his readiness and commitment to the role, believing he could contribute to solving the force’s pressing issues.

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