Air Force Gen. Paul Selva, nominated Tuesday to serve as the next vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs, wins praise from military colleagues, lawmakers and the president.

On Tuesday President Obama on Tuesday nominated Air Force Gen. Paul Selva, the chief of U.S. Transportation Command, to serve as the next vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

In his Rose Garden announcement of the nomination of Selva and Marine Corps Commandant Joseph Dunford — as chairman of the Joint Chiefs — President Obama highlighted Selva's role earlier in his administration when the Air Force general served as the top military adviser to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

In praising Selva, Obama noted his "35 years of military service — as both a pilot and a commander. As leader of Air Mobility Command, he earned a reputation as a force for change and innovation. I understand that when it was time to deliver the final C-17 to the Air Force, Paul went to the cockpit and helped fly it himself."

Currently chief of U.S. Transportation Command, headquartered at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, Selva "He grasps the strategic environment in which our forces operate," Obama said of Selva. "He understands our military, as powerful as it is, is one tool that must be used in concert with all of the elements of our national power."

Obama gave a nod to Mrs. Selva's wife, Ricki. "I should note that, as a graduate of the Air Force Academy, Paul is especially grateful to the Academy because it's there that he met his wife, Ricki, who also served in the Air Force. And, Paul and Ricki, thank you both for taking on this next chapter of your service together."

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., issued a statement Tuesday praising Selva and Dunford. He also vowed that the Senate Armed Services Committee would act promptly on their nominations.

"Gen. Selva's extensive experience as an operational and strategic leader would be a welcome addition to the Joint Chiefs of Staff," McCain said in the statement.

Retired Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz remembers how Selva's efforts allowed TRANSCOM to move 1,500 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles to troops downrange quickly. At the time, Selva was his operations officer.

"He was very effective … in orchestrating that via all the means at his disposal: aAir, surface, maritime, Transload," Schwartz said. "Needless to say, it was not a trivial undertaking and he was very resourceful and innovative. I think those kinds of problem-solving skills will serve him well in this new job."

Schwartz described Selva as a bright and thoughtful strategic thinker.

"I think he is a modern leader, who understands the modern workforce, if you will," Schwartz told Air Force Times on Tuesday. "And maybe, as important, he has been in an organization that is among the most businesslike entities in the department. I think that businesslike approach will serve him well as being a vice chair."

Retired Air Force Gen. Arthur Lichte called Selva "one of the smartest officers I have ever known."

What has made Selva an outstanding leader at TRANSCOM is that he understands the logistics aspects of working with all of the services, said Lichte, who was the commander of Air Mobility Command from September 2007 to January 2010.

"He will also have a combatant commander's perspective and knows all the current hot-button issues that the Joint Staff has been working," Lichte said in an email Tuesday to Air Force Times.

From his experience in previous assignments, Selva knows his way around Washington, D.C., Lichte said.

"He is respected by the most senior leaders in the National Command Authority and he is equally respected by the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines who have ever come in contact with him," Lichte said. "He will do a fantastic job in that position."

Selva was appointed head of U.S. Transportation Command in May of 2014. Before that, he spent less than two years as the leader of the Air Force's Air Mobility Command and a year as vice command with Pacific Air Forces.

As a colonel, Selva was at the controls when the last C-141 Starlifter left McChord Air Force Base, Washington, for the boneyard at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona.

"I have jumped from a 141 and I have flown a 141, and I enjoyed every minute of it," Selva told Air Force Times in April 2002.

Despite a lack of experience in the fighter community that often dominates Air Force leadership, Selva has risen quickly through the ranks, moving from one prestigious command to another. He is well regarded both inside the Pentagon and in industry.

During his three-year stint as assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he was assigned as a military adviser to the State Department — a notable detail, given that it ties him to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. There has been speculation those ties could lead to Selva being tapped as the next chairman if Clinton wins the White House in 2016.

Although they only overlapped for a few months, Selva and Dunford worked together to facilitate the removal of U.S. equipment from Afghanistan. The task was complicated by the fact that relations between the U.S. and Russia came to a boil after Russia annexed the Crimea region of Ukraine.

Since 20 percent of cargo to Afghanistan transited through Russia, Selva had to be ready to find alternate supply routes in case Russia suddenly refused to let NATO use its territory.

If confirmed by the Senate, Selva would replace Adm. James Winnefeld, who became vice chairman in August 2011.

Selva has served as the head of Transportation Command since May 2014. Prior to that, he led Air Mobility Command, during which he oversaw the development of the KC-46A tanker replacement program.

During his tenure at Air Mobility Command and Transportation Command, Selva has been an outspoken advocate for mobility airmen. Last month, Selva told lawmakers that mobility airmen need a rest from non-stop operations Afghanistan, fighting the Islamic State group and helping to contain the Ebola outbreak.

He has also spoken against the corrosive effects of sequestration, warning shortly before the cuts went into effect that slashing the Defense Department's budget would make it harder for mobility airmen to do their job.

In September 2013, he told Air Force Times that budget cuts had resulted in reduced flying hours, and that meant maintainers and other airmen were spending fewer flying hours in training. He warned that he may have to prevent airmen from moving to their next assignments because he did not have experienced replacements for them.

"That has an adverse consequence on what we call aircrew seasoning because I can't take, for example, an aircraft commander and let him or her go to an instructor pilot tour at Air Education and Training Command or a staff tour because I'm busy managing the balance of expertise between pilots and co-pilots inside the weapons system," Selva said.

Selva took command of U.S. Transportation Command on May 5, 2014, a year to the day before he was named as the President's nominee for vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

That day in 2014 was also just fFour days after Selva took command at TRANSCOM, a new contractor took over the process for moving service members' privately owned vehicles to and from overseas.

That contract proved problematic for TRANSCOM, as troops began complaining about their vehicles being delivered late during their permanent change-of-station moves, and about the new contractor, International Auto Logistics, being unresponsive to emails and phone calls inquiring about the status of their vehicles.

Selva made it clear this was a priority, and took action. By early August, he had elevated the management of the contract to the TRANSCOM level, creating a special team that conducted site visits to validate data about the locations of troops' vehicles and closely monitored the contractor's performance.

"I've personally communicated to the leadership of the company the expectation that they improve their performance with the timely and reliable delivery of vehicles and communication with customers," he told Military Times in September.

In December, he said IAL's performance had "improved markedly," but the on-time delivery still wasn't where it should be. "They know I'm not happy. Basically all the interested parties in this contract know I am not happy with their performance," he said at the time. TRANSCOM officials gave the contractor a deadline of early February to brief the command on its plans to deal with this year's summer surge, and avoid last year's problems.

In February, TRANSCOM announced that it is they are satisfied that IAL is ready to deal with the annual summer surge and expect "significantly better contract performance" this year.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., one of several lawmakers who expressed concern last year about the delays in shipments of troops' cars, met Feb. 25 with Selva. Durbin later said he was hopeful that the contractor is now better prepared.

On Tuesday, Durbin congratulated Selva for his "well-deserved" nomination as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"During his tenure at Scott Air Base, Gen. Selva has distinguished himself as a strong, capable leader," Durbin said in a statement. "Although we will miss having him in Illinois, I look forward to working with General Selva in his new role here in Washington, D.C."

Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.

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