President Biden Nominates New Air Force Academy Superintendent

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President Joe Biden has nominated Lt. Gen. Tony Bauernfeind, head of Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC), to be the next superintendent of the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Bauernfeind, who took over AFSOC in December 2022, has been nominated less than 18 months into his role. The Senate will now confirm his appointment. In a press release, Bauernfeind, a 1991 Academy graduate, expressed his gratitude for the nomination, saying, “I am humbled by the nomination to be the 22nd superintendent of our academy. Developing warfighters, leaders of character, and critical thinkers for our Air Force and Space Force is an honor.”

During his time at AFSOC, Bauernfeind managed various challenges, including maintenance issues with the CV-22 Osprey, the recovery of air commandos killed in a crash off the coast of Japan, and supporting the family of Senior Airman Roger Fortson, who died in a police incident on May 3.

President Biden Nominates Bauernfeind As New Air Force Academy Superintendent

Bauernfeind has a 32-year career with over 3,500 flight hours in MC-130E, MC-130H, and MQ-9 aircraft. His previous roles include commanding general of Special Operations Command Korea, chief of staff at U.S. Special Operations Command, and vice commander of U.S. Special Operations Command.

Katherine Kuzminski, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, noted that it’s common for the Air Force to move its limited three-star generals into essential roles, highlighting the significance of appointing an AFSOC commander as superintendent.

Since the 9/11 attacks, the military has increasingly relied on special operators. Currently, the U.S. military is shifting focus to “great power competition,” particularly regarding rising threats from China. Air Force officials are reorganizing and updating strategies with China in mind, including enhancing the cadet experience for ROTC and Academy students.

Lt. Gen. Richard Clark, the current superintendent since September 2020, will retire on June 1. Clark praised Bauernfeind’s operational experience and its relevance to the academy’s focus on preparing leaders for great power competition, especially with the looming threat from China.