The chief of staff of the Air Force (acronym: CSAF, or AF/CC) is a statutory office (10 U.S.C. § 9033) held by a general in the United States Air Force, and as such is the principal military advisor to the secretary of the Air Force on matter pertaining to the Air Force; and is in a separate capacity (10 U.S.C. § 151), a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and thereby a military adviser to the National Security Council, the secretary of defense, and the President. The chief of staff is typically the highest-ranking officer on active duty in the Air Force unless the chairman and/or the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are Air Force officers.
|Chief of Staff of the Air Force|
|United States Air Force|
|Member of||Joint Chiefs of Staff|
|Reports to||Secretary of Defense|
Secretary of the Air Force
|Residence||Quarters 7, Fort Myer|
|Seat||The Pentagon, Arlington, Virginia|
with Senate advice and consent
|Term length||4 years|
Renewable once, only during war or national emergency
|Constituting instrument||10 U.S.C. § 9033|
|Precursor||Commanding General, United States Army Air Forces|
|Formation||18 September 1947|
|First holder||Gen Carl A. Spaatz|
|Deputy||Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force|
The chief of staff of the Air Force is an administrative position based in the Pentagon, and while the chief of staff does not have operational command authority over Air Force forces (that is within the purview of the combatant commanders who report to the secretary of defense), the chief of staff does exercise supervision of Air Force units and organizations as the designee of the secretary of the Air Force.
The current chief of staff of the Air Force is General Charles Q. Brown Jr., the first African-American to hold the position.
Under the authority, direction and control of the secretary of the Air Force, the chief of staff presides over the Air Staff, acts as the Secretary's executive agent in carrying out approved plans, and exercises supervision, consistent with authority assigned to the commanders of the Unified Combatant Commands, over organizations and members of the Air Force as determined by the Secretary. The chief of staff may also perform other duties as assigned by either the president, the secretary of defense or the secretary of the Air Force.
The chief of staff of the Air Force is a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as prescribed by 10 U.S.C. § 151. When performing his JCS duties the chief of staff is responsible directly to the secretary of defense. Like the other members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the chief of staff is an administrative position, with no operational command authority over the United States Air Force.
The chief of staff is nominated for appointment by the president, for a four-year term of office, and must be confirmed via majority vote by the Senate. Any Air Force officer with the rank of brigadier general and above may be appointed as chief of staff, but prospective nominees are typically laterally promoted from other four-star assignments. The chief can be reappointed to serve one additional term, but only during times of war or national emergency declared by Congress. To qualify for the position, the nominee must also have significant joint duty experience, and at least one full tour of duty in a joint duty assignment as a general officer unless the President waives this requirement. By statute, the chief of staff is appointed as a four-star general without vacating his permanent rank.
The chief of staff is also authorized to wear a special service cap with clouds and lightning bolts around the band of the hat. This cap is different from those worn by other general officers of the Air Force and it is for use by the Chief of Staff and Air Force officers serving as Chairman or Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Prior to the creation of this position, General Henry H. Arnold was designated the first chief of the Army Air Forces and commanding general of the Army Air Forces during World War II. His successor, Carl A. Spaatz became the first chief of staff of the Air Force upon the establishment of the United States Air Force.
Three chiefs of staff would go on to serve as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, namely Nathan F. Twining, George S. Brown and David C. Jones.
|No.||Portrait||Name||Term||Background||Secretaries served under:||Ref.|
|Took office||Left office||Duration||Air Force||Defense|
Carl A. Spaatz
|26 September 1947||29 April 1948||216 days||Fighters||W. Stuart Symington||James Forrestal|||
Hoyt S. Vandenberg
|30 April 1948[a]||29 June 1953||5 years, 60 days||Attack and Fighters||W. Stuart Symington|
Thomas K. Finletter
Harold E. Talbott
Louis A. Johnson
George C. Marshall
Robert A. Lovett
Charles Erwin Wilson
Nathan F. Twining
|30 June 1953[a]||30 June 1957[b]||4 years, 0 days||Fighters and Bombers||Harold E. Talbott|
Donald A. Quarles
James H. Douglas Jr.
|Charles Erwin Wilson|||
Thomas D. White
|1 July 1957[a]||30 June 1961||3 years, 364 days||Observation aircraft and Staff||James H. Douglas Jr.|
|Charles Erwin Wilson|
Neil H. McElroy
Curtis E. LeMay
|30 June 1961[a]||31 January 1965||3 years, 215 days||Bombers||Eugene Zuckert||Robert McNamara|||
John P. McConnell
|1 February 1965[a]||31 July 1969||4 years, 180 days||Fighters||Eugene Zuckert|
John D. Ryan
|1 August 1969[a]||31 July 1973||3 years, 364 days||Bombers||Robert Seamans|
John L. McLucas
James R. Schlesinger
George S. Brown
|1 August 1973||30 June 1974[b]||333 days||Bombers||John L. McLucas||James R. Schlesinger|
David C. Jones
|1 July 1974||20 June 1978[b]||3 years, 354 days||Bombers||John L. McLucas|
Thomas C. Reed
John C. Stetson
Lew Allen Jr.
|1 July 1978[a]||30 June 1982||3 years, 364 days||Bombers||John C. Stetson|
Charles A. Gabriel
|1 July 1982||30 June 1986||3 years, 364 days||Fighters||Verne Orr|
Russell A. Rourke
Larry D. Welch
|1 July 1986||30 June 1990||3 years, 364 days||Fighters||Edward Aldridge|
Michael J. Dugan
|1 July 1990||17 September 1990|
|78 days||Fighters||Donald Rice||Dick Cheney|||
John M. Loh
|18 September 1990||29 October 1990||41 days||Fighters||Donald Rice||Dick Cheney|||
Merrill A. McPeak
|30 October 1990||25 October 1994||3 years, 360 days||Fighters||Donald Rice|
William J. Perry
Ronald R. Fogleman
|26 October 1994||1 September 1997||2 years, 310 days||Fighters||Sheila Widnall||William J. Perry|
Ralph E. Eberhart
|2 September 1997||5 October 1997||33 days||Fighters||Sheila Widnall||William Cohen|||
Michael E. Ryan
|6 October 1997||5 September 2001||3 years, 334 days||Fighters||Sheila Widnall|
F. Whitten Peters
James G. Roche
John P. Jumper
|6 September 2001||1 September 2005||3 years, 360 days||Fighters||James G. Roche||Donald Rumsfeld|||
T. Michael Moseley
|2 September 2005[a]||11 July 2008|
|2 years, 344 days||Fighters||Michael Wynne||Donald Rumsfeld|
Duncan J. McNabb
|12 July 2008||12 August 2008||31 days||Airlift||Michael B. Donley||Robert Gates|||
Norton A. Schwartz
|12 August 2008||10 August 2012||3 years, 364 days||Airlift and Special Operations aircraft||Michael B. Donley||Robert Gates|
Mark A. Welsh III
|10 August 2012||24 June 2016||3 years, 319 days||Attack and Fighters||Michael B. Donley|
Deborah Lee James
David L. Goldfein
|1 July 2016[a]||6 August 2020||4 years, 36 days||Fighters||Deborah Lee James|
Charles Q. Brown Jr.
|6 August 2020||Incumbent||2 years, 174 days||Fighters||Barbara Barrett|
Frank Kendall III