Gen. Mark Welsh on July 19 will get his day before the Senate Armed Services Committee to discuss his nomination to be the Air Force’s next Chief of Staff. President Obama in May tapped Welsh, US Air Forces in Europe’s commander since December 2010, to become the 20th CSAF. If the Senate confirms the nomination, Welsh would succeed Gen. Norton Schwartz, who has held the service’s top uniformed post since August 2008. Schwartz is scheduled to retire, effective Oct. 1, although his retirement ceremony is set for Aug. 10. Also at the hearing, the committee will take up the nominations of Army Lt. Gen. Frank Grass to be National Guard Bureau chief—he would replace Gen. Craig McKinley, who also is set to retire—and Marine Corps Lt. Gen. John Kelly to become US Southern Command boss, succeeding Gen. Douglas Fraser.
Three B-1B Lancers from the 7th Bomb Wing flew over the Indo-Pacific alongside F-16s from the Japanese Air Self Defense Force recently, as part of a joint large force exercise. The mission began and ended in the continental U.S., as the bombers flew 31 hours and landed Jan. 11.