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Trump Picks Heather Wilson as Next Secretary of the Air Force

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 23-Jan-2017
Updated: 23-Jan-2017 11:40 PM

The White House announced today that President Trump will nominate former Rep. Heather Wilson to serve as Secretary of the Air Force (SecAF).  Wilson represented the 1st district of New Mexico from 1998-2009 and currently is President of the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology.  She will succeed Deborah Lee James who was SecAF during most of President Obama's second term.

Wilson graduated with a bachelor of science degree from the Air Force Academy in 1982, then earned Masters and doctoral degrees (D.Phil) in international relations as a Rhodes Scholar at England's Oxford University.   After service in Europe as an Air Force Officer (Captain), she joined President George H.W. Bush's National Security Council staff in 1989.  In 1991, she left government service and founded Keystone International in Albuquerque, NM.  In 1995, she was appointed by the Governor of New Mexico to be Cabinet Secretary for Children, Youth and Families.

She was elected to Congress in 1998 and served on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the House Armed Services Committee, and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. In 2008, she decided to run for Senate to succeed Sen. Pete Dominici, but lost in the primary.  She ran again for the Senate in 2012 to succeed Sen. Jeff Bingaman, but lost in the general election.


Heather Wilson.  Photo Credit:  South Dakota School of Mines & Technology website.

Wilson has been President of the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology in Rapid City, SD since 2013.  Among its activities, the School has a close relationship with the Sanford Underground Research Facility in Lead, SD where research on neutrinos, dark matter and subatomic particles is conducted.  She is the first female President of the School.

James resigned as SecAF at noon on January 20 when the Obama Administration ended.  Under Secretary of the Air Force Lisa Disbrow became Acting SecAF at that point and will remain in that position until Wilson is confirmed by the Senate and sworn in.   Disbrow is a retired Air Force Reserve Colonel with more than 30 years of national security experience including serving as a senior systems engineer at the National Reconnaissance Office.


Acting Secretary of the Air Force Lisa Disbrow.  Photo Credit:  Air Force website.

 


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