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Countdown to the 20th Air Force Chief of Staff: Soon, probably early in May, President Obama will announce the four-star general who is his nominee to be the next Air Force Chief of Staff. If confirmed by the Senate, the new Chief will take over from Gen. Norton Schwartz, who will conclude his four-year tour in August as the 19th Chief of Staff in the service's history. In an interview in his Pentagon office last week, Schwartz said Air Force Secretary Michael Donley early this year forwarded the names of more than one candidate to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta who took two months to "digest" the information that came with those names. Schwartz did acknowledge that Panetta has made a choice, but he declined to discuss how that recommendation is progressing at the White House—the nomination is ultimately Obama's to make. For Schwartz's complete discussion of the selection process, continue to Choosing the New Chief.