Welsh Committed to Improving Relations with Congress

Air Force Chief of Staff nominee Gen. Mark Welsh told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday that the Air Force needs to do a better job of connecting with Congress. “I think there is a trust problem the Air Force must address,” said Welsh, current US Air Forces in Europe commander, during his nomination hearing. “I think that intel is good,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) in response. Overall, the nearly three-hour hearing was relatively calm, with proposed USAF force structure changes and their impact on the reserve components dominating the discussion, along with budget and sequestration issues. The senators also considered the nominations of Marine Corps Lt. Gen. John Kelly to be commander of US Southern Command, and Army Lt. Gen. Frank Grass to be the new National Guard Bureau chief. Thursday’s hearing was the first time a potential Guard chief had to face the committee in a nomination hearing, noted Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), SASC chairman. That’s due to the fact that the NGB chief is now a statutory member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he said.