President Trump is nominating former Congresswoman and Air Force Academy graduate Heather Wilson to become U.S. Secretary of the Air Force.
A Republican, Wilson represented New Mexico’s First Congressional District in the Albuquerque area from 1998 to 2009. She left politics after two unsuccessful attempts at a U.S. Senate seat and for the past four years has held the position of president of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.
Heather Wilson, 56, was the first female military veteran elected to a full term in Congress. While in Congress, she served on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the House Armed Services Committee, and the House Energy and Commerce Committee. She also chaired the House Subcommittee on Technical and Tactical Intelligence.
Prior to her election to the U.S. House of Representatives, Wilson was the director for European defense policy and arms control in President George H.W. Bush’s National Security Council.
“If confirmed, Wilson would be the first Air Force Academy graduate to ever serve as secretary,” the Air Force Times noted.
Heather Wilson graduated with honors with the rank of captain and served on active duty in the Air Force in Europe from 1982 to 1989. Her resume also includes a prestigious Rhodes scholarship at Oxford University in the U.K. where she earned a master’s degree and a Ph.D.
“Wilson did not attend flight school before leaving the Air Force as a captain because of her studies at Oxford. But the daughter and granddaughter of pilots is an instrument-rated private pilot,” Breitbart News explained.
In a statement, President Trump explained that “Heather Wilson is going to make an outstanding Secretary of the Air Force. Her distinguished military service, high level of knowledge, and success in so many different fields gives me great confidence that she will lead our nation’s Air Force with the greatest competence and integrity,” the Albuquerque Journal reported.
In a companion statement, Wilson noted that “America and our vital national interests continue to be threatened. I will do my best, working with our men and women in the military, to strengthen American air and space power to keep the country safe.”
The Air Force secretary will report to newly confirmed Defense Secretary James Mattis, the highly respected retired Marine general. The Air Force is currently “conducting major airstrike campaigns in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan,” according to NPR.
“If confirmed as Air Force secretary, Wilson would be responsible for overseeing part of Trump’s promised build-up of the military…Trump has also blasted expensive Air Force acquisition programs, including the F-35 fighter jet. As Air Force secretary, Wilson would have a key role in negotiating acquisition,” The Hill speculated.
President Trump has tapped businessman and U.S. Army vet Vincent Viola as Army Secretary and today nominated venture capitalist and Army reservist Philip Bilden for the equivalent job overseeing the Navy, the Military Times reported.
About the USAF secretary appointment, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich, a Democrat who defeated Wilson in the 2012 election, said that “her distinguished service in the Air Force, experience working on the National Security Council, and her firsthand knowledge of New Mexico’s Air Force installations would offer a unique and valuable perspective at the Pentagon.”
“Although Wilson comes highly recommended for the position, she’s likely to face questions at her confirmation hearing about a lucrative and controversial consulting contract she entered with [Sandia National Laboratories] after leaving Congress,” the Albuquerque Journal cautioned.
New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez praised the Heater Wilson Air Force secretary appointment. “Martinez, a Republican, said Wilson was instrumental in protecting the state’s military bases while in Congress, ‘and I know she will continue fighting for them in her new position. She will be an incredible asset for the new administration.'” AP reported.
[Featured Image by Jake Schoellkopf/AP Images]