Pentagon picks Welsh to replace retiring Schwartz

Welsh will take over as service chief of the Air Force as it’s locked in a fierce budget battle with Congress, particularly over cuts to the Air National Guard. The House Armed Services Committee passed an amendment to the defense authorization bill Wednesday that would require the Air Force to maintain 2012 funding levels of the Guard, despite the Pentagon’s plans to cut aircraft and personnel this year.

The budget issues are likely to still be before the Air Force when Welsh is slated to take over.

Panetta said Thursday that he worked with Welsh when he was CIA director, saying that he “developed a deep appreciation for his wisdom and his counsel.”

Welsh was associate director for military affairs at the CIA from August 2008 to 2010.