Barbara Barrett Nominated as Next Air Force Secretary

Barbara Barrett Nominated as Next Air Force Secretary

Barbara McConnell Barrett, a lawyer and former chairman of the Aerospace Corporation’s Board of Trustees, is being nominated to succeed Heather Wilson as Secretary of the Air Force.  President Trump tweeted the news today.

Barbara Barrett. (Credit: Barrett’s LinkedIn page.)

Barrett, 68, is owner of the Triple Creek Ranch, a luxury ranch resort, in Darby, Montana, but has served in a several government positions over the decades.  She was deputy administrator of the FAA (1987-1988) and vice chairman of the Civil Aeronautics Board (1982-1985) under President Reagan, and was U.S Ambassador to Finland from 2008-2009.

She is a member of the Board of Trustees of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), which operates the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NASA, and of the RAND Corporation. She is also a Life Director of the Space Foundation.

An instrument-rated pilot, she is the first civilian woman to land an F/A-18 Hornet on an aircraft carrier according to a June 2018 profile in Arizona’s Chamber Business News.  She was inducted into the Arizona Aviation Hall of Fame in 2013.

Barrett trained in Russia to be an astronaut as a backup to Cirque de Soleil’s Guy Laliberté for his 2009 flight on Soyuz TMA-16. Space Adventures President Eric Anderson called her a “perfect candidate” at the time.  In a July 2018 profile by the Indiana Gazette, she said the training lasted 4 months and she would have been “delighted to do it” if Laliberté had not made the trip.

She has a bachelor’s degree in political science, a master’s of public administration, and a law degree (J.D.) all from Arizona State University.

Trump tweeted the news.

Wilson announced her resignation in March, effective at the end of this month. Under Secretary of the Air Force Matthew Donovan will be Acting Secretary until Barrett is confirmed.

Wilson tweeted her support of the choice.

Barrett was chairman of the Aerospace Corporation’s Board of Trustees from 2013-2017, when she was succeeded by Michael Donley, a former Secretary of the Air Force.  Aerospace is a Federally Funded Research and Development Corporation (FFRDC) created in 1960 to provide technical support to the Air Force on national security space activities, especially space launch.

Steve Isakowtiz, Aerospace’s President, tweeted his congratulations as well.

Barrett will have to be confirmed by the Senate. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) already expressed his support for the nomination via tweet today, citing her background as “a trained pilot and astronaut.”

This article has been updated.

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