Senate Confirms Series of Key USAF Leadership Posts

The Senate has confirmed Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch (top left) to lead Air Force Materiel Command, Lt. Gen. Brad Webb (top right) to lead Air Education and Training Command, Maj. Gen. Marc Sasseville (bottom left) to lead Air Forces Northern, Maj. Gen. Eric Fick (bottom center) to lead the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program Office, and Maj. Gen. David Nahom (bottom right) to serve as USAF's deputy chief of staff for plans and programs. Air Force photos/Staff illustration by Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory.

The Senate has confirmed Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch to be promoted to four stars and take over the helm of Air Force Materiel Command, the service announced May 24. Also confirmed were Lt. Gen. Brad Webb to head Air Education and Training Command; Maj. Gen. Eric Fick to be promoted to three stars and become the new Program Executive Officer of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program; Maj. Gen. David Nahom to receive his third star and take over as deputy chief of staff for plans and programs, and Maj. Gen. Marc Sasseville to be promoted to lieutenant general and assume command of Air Forces Northern.

Bunch succeeds Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski, who retired in September of 2018. AFMC has been led in the interim by Lt. Gen. Robert McMurry, who was dual-hatted as AFMC acting commander as well as head of the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, and who will now resume full-time duty at AFLCMC.

Bunch has served as the military deputy to the Air Force acquisition chief since 2015, and in that capacity has shepherded many key programs through the acquisition process to contract award; notably the B-21 bomber, T-X trainer, and UH-1N helicopter replacement. He has been heavily involved with test during his career, both as a bomber pilot and director of test enterprises at Eglin AFB, Fla., and Edwards AFB, Calif. At AFMC, he will manage a portfolio of $60 billion worth of acquisition, development, and sustainment programs. Bunch was nominated to the AFMC job last fall, but when the Senate failed to act on many nominations by the end of the 115th Congress, those nominations had to be resubmitted and re-considered by the 116th Congress.

Webb has served as head of Air Force Special Operations Command since 2016. His career has largely been in special operations, as a helicopter pilot and then a SOF commander in Europe and the Middle East, who has flown all USAF helicopters, the CV-22 tiltrotor, and two special operations versions of the C-130. He’s flown combat missions in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Bosnia, and has received the Distinguished Flying Cross. He succeeds Lt. Gen. Steven Kwast, who has pushed hard on introducing new distance-learning technologies, live-virtual-constructive exercises, and accelerated training programs using new simulation and computer technologies. The service has not yet announced Kwast’s next assignment.

Fick, the deputy PEO of the joint service F-35 program since 2017, will succeed Vice Adm. Mat Winter, who has held the job for two years. Under the rules of the program, when the PEO is an Air Force officer, he will report to the Navy’s service acquisition executive and have either a Navy or Marine deputy. Fick is a flight test engineer with extensive flight test experience who has previously served as USAF’s PEO for direct attack weapons; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; and fighters and bombers.

Nahom, who rises from director of programs at the Air Staff, started as a Weapon System Officer in the F-111, then trained as a pilot and held command at a number of levels in F-15s and F-22s, and in both USAF and joint positions. He succeeds Lt. Gen. Jerry Harris.

Sasseville comes to the NORTHCOM job from his post as deputy director of the Air National Guard, having commanded at many levels in the Guard, especially with Guard units at JB Andrews, Washington, D.C., as well as in F-16 assignments and as a military attache to Turkey. Sasseville was one of the first two F-16 pilots to respond to the 9/11 attacks in Washington, D.C.