Barbara M. Barrett was publicly sworn in as the 25th Secretary of the U.S. Air Force on Saturday. The ceremony took place at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and was conducted by Deputy Secretary of Defense David Norquist. Barrett was nominated for the position last May after former Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson announced she would be stepping down. She was confirmed by the Senate on Oct. 16 and administratively sworn in on Oct. 18.
In addition to being an instrument-rated pilot, Barrett trained as an astronaut and is credited with being the first civilian woman to land on an aircraft carrier in an F/A-18 Hornet. She has previously served as chairman of the board of federally funded research and development center The Aerospace Corporation, FAA deputy administrator, vice chairman of the now-closed U.S. Civil Aeronautics Board and U.S. ambassador to Finland. Barrett has a law degree and master’s in public administration from Arizona State University.
As Secretary of the Air Force, Barrett is responsible for Department of the Air Force affairs including “organizing, training, equipping and providing for the welfare of 685,000 active duty, Guard, Reserve and civilian Airmen and their families,” along with overseeing the Air Force’s $205 billion annual budget, directing strategy and policy development, risk management, weapons acquisition, technology investments and human resource management. “The Airmen who wear our nation’s uniform are our greatest asset and treasure,” she said in her remarks following the swearing-in. “We have no greater charge than to develop and care for them and their families.”