US Air Force commander David Goldfein retires
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US Air Force commander David Goldfein retires

Jewish general had been tapped by James Mattis to be next head of joint chiefs, but Trump passed over him for post

David L. Goldfein, chief of staff of the US Air Force, walks on the field during the first half of an NCAA college football game between Navy and Air Force, October 5, 2019, in Annapolis, Maryland. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
David L. Goldfein, chief of staff of the US Air Force, walks on the field during the first half of an NCAA college football game between Navy and Air Force, October 5, 2019, in Annapolis, Maryland. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Gen. David Goldfein, who for a time was in line to become the first Jewish chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, has retired as Air Force chief.

Goldfein, 60, stepped down as scheduled on Thursday, The Washington Post reported.

James Mattis, the defense secretary in 2018, had tapped Goldfein to be the country’s next top uniformed military official. That December, just as US President Donald Trump was falling out with Mattis over the president’s insistence on pulling US troops out of Syria, Trump instead named Mark Milley, then the army chief, to the role. Mattis resigned in January 2019.

Goldfein was named to the top Air Force job by president Barack Obama in 2016.

In June, Goldfein took the unusual step of issuing a declaration on the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, calling it a “national tragedy.”

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