Deborah Lee James was confirmed as the next Air Force secretary by a vote of 79 to 6 on Dec. 13, according to a news release from Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. (Air Force)
Deborah Lee James was confirmed as the next Air Force secretary by a vote of 79 to 6 on Dec. 13, according to a news release from Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.
“On behalf of the more than 690,000 men and women of the U.S. Air Force, I want to welcome Secretary James to our Air Force family,” Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh said in a Dec. 13 statement. “I’m confident that she’ll lead us with the same vision and passion she’s shown throughout her public service and private sector leadership, building on the extraordinary accomplishments of our Acting Secretary Eric Fanning, who has magnificently led our Air Force these last few months.”
James will become the second female Air Force secretary in the service’s history, replacing Michael Donley, who retired in June. Undersecretary Eric Fanning has been serving as acting secretary since then.
“I am very pleased and excited to hear that Debbie James has been confirmed as the Secretary of the Air Force,” Fanning said in a Dec. 13 statement. “Having worked with her on the Hill, in the Pentagon and at Business Executives for National Security, I know firsthand that she is just what the Air Force needs right now. She will be a forceful advocate for airmen and air power.
“Her experience in and out of government, including service as the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs, will help guide our Total Force to the proper force mixture with the right capabilities for the future. I look forward to working alongside her in organizing and shaping the Air Force to protect our Nation’s national security.”
Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H, initially blocked James’ nomination due to published reports that the Air Force plans to phase out the A-10 to save money, but she released her hold in October.
This marks a return to government life for James, who served as assistant defense secretary for Reserve Affairs from 1993 to 1998. She is currently president of the technology and engineering sector at Science Applications International Corporation.