Gen. David L. Goldfein
21st Chief of Staff, United States Air Force (ret)
General (retired) David L. Goldfein is an internationally recognized leader in global risk and crisis management, planning and executing complex operations, and developing and implementing policy and communications strategies. His experience has been honed over a 37- year career as a pilot in the United States Air Force, where he commanded at every level and finished his career as the 21st Chief of Staff, the service’s highest-ranking 4-star officer. Goldfein had wide-ranging operational and advisory responsibilities, including oversight of the organization, training, and equipping of over 693,000 personnel serving in the United States and dozens of countries around the world; and management of a $168 billion operating budget. He has served as a trusted advisor to the President, the National Security Council, the Congress, and the senior leadership of the Department of Defense on a range of national security matters. In addition, he developed key relationships with international partners, private sector leaders, and philanthropists.
Dave currently serves as a Senior Advisor for Blackstone Investment Group, where he helps senior Blackstone leaders formulate and execute optimal courses of action based on an informed global risk assessment. In this role, he is Chairman of the Board of Draken International LLC, a Blackstone owned company focused on US and foreign military training. Goldfein has been named a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institute and a Senior Fellow at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, where he maintains a focus on their Air and Space portfolios. Additionally, he serves as an Advisory Board Director of Anduril Industries, Inc., where he advises the CEO and leadership on global trends and risk as it applies to their technology. As a Professor of Practice at the University of Texas El Paso and University of Texas San Antonio, he develops promising professionals through a dynamic instructional practice.
An equally important part of his portfolio, Goldfein dedicates a significant portion of his time serving in Pro Bono positions. He currently serves as a Board Director of the United Services Organization (USO), on the Leadership Council of the Bob Woodruff Foundation, and is a Senior Trustee of the USAF Academy’s Falcon Foundation and a Scholar of the newly formed Policy Vets. He is also a Distinguished Member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Goldfein was recently recognized as a Distinguished Eagle Scout and a Distinguished Alumni of Philmont Scout Ranch.
Prior to serving as the USAF Chief of Staff, Dave was the USAF Vice Chief of Staff, the second highest ranking officer, where he presided over the Air Staff and served as a member of the Joints Chiefs of Staff Requirements Oversight Council and Deputy Advisory Working Group, advising on high interest acquisitions and assessing joint military capabilities for the Department of Defense. As Vice Chief, he pioneered a new and aggressive approach to supporting warriors with invisible wounds, as well as their caregivers.
During his time as Chief, Goldfein developed and championed the Department of Defense’s signature joint warfighting initiative, Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2). Central to his vision was the creation of the Department’s first Information Warfare Command, which brought together the capabilities of Cyber, Intelligence, Electronic Warfare, and Information Operations. He also developed and executed the largest overhaul of the officer development and promotion system in the Air Force in over thirty years.
Goldfein has held numerous command positions, notably the deployed Air Component Commander for U.S. Central Command from 2011-2013, where he directed all air and space operations across 20 countries spanning the broader Middle East. An effective coalition-builder, General Goldfein traveled extensively as a military “ambassador,” working with stakeholders across the region and building crucial inter-disciplinary relationships. He successfully envisioned and built the first- ever Gulf Air Operations Center, with representation from all six Gulf Cooperation Council countries inside his headquarters.
Dave received his commission from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1983, with a degree in Philosophy. He later earned a master’s degree in Business Administration from Oklahoma City University. He is a graduate of the prestigious Air Force Weapons Instructor Course and the Department of State’s Senior Seminar program as a National Defense Fellow.
Goldfein is married to his high school sweetheart, Dawn A. Goldfein. Dawn recently published “Sharing the Journey, A Military Spouse Perspective” as a companion work to Dave’s guide for commanders, “Sharing Success and Owning Failure, Preparing to Command”, which was published in 2001 and is now in its 12th printing. Dave and Dawn continue to pursue their passion for helping military spouses and families in addition to their ongoing work with invisible wounds of war, and both work together as senior mentors and managers for CAPSTONE and KEYSTONE military leadership courses for newly selected general and flag officers and their spouses across the joint team.