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Welsh Confirmed as Chief of Staff: The Senate on Aug. 2 approved Gen. Mark Welsh to become the Air Force's 20th Chief of Staff, replacing Gen. Norton Schwartz, who is stepping down and retiring from the service. The next step is for President Obama to formally appoint Welsh as Chief of Staff. Pending that action, the Air Force has planned a ceremony on Aug. 10 where Welsh would assume the position, according to the service's release. Welsh, a 1976 Air Force Academy graduate, comes to Air Force headquarters after leading US Air Forces in Europe since December 2010. The Senate's confirmation vote came on the same day that Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) lifted his hold on Welsh's nomination. Cornyn placed the hold in late July over concern about the sexual abuse scandal at JBSA-Lackland, Tex., home of Air Force basic military training. Cornyn met with Welsh on Aug. 2, prior to lifting his hold, to discuss the situation. "It’s clear General Welsh shares my grave concerns," said Cornyn in a subsequent statement announcing the lifting of the hold. He added, "I was pleased to hear his commitment to following the [sexual abuse] investigation, wherever it may lead."