The United States Air Force Secretary represents the head of the Air force department. Also known as the SECAF, she holds responsibility and authority to conduct all affairs involving the department. The authority to run SECAF exercises is attained through nomination or appointment by the president after confirmation with the senate. This process is also overseen by the General Counsel of the Air force, and the four assistant secretaries of the Air Force (House of Representatives). The secretary of defense and/or the Deputy secretary of defense are in charge of the secretary of the air force meaning that she reports and answers to them. The Secretary of Defense answers to the president.
Working closely with her civilian deputy, secretary is responsible for different affairs of the Department of air force including recruiting staff, training, organizing, equipping, , and overseeing provision for the welfare of 685,000 active duty guards, reserve and civilian forces together with their families. The secretary is also in charge of directing the air force’s annual budget which amounts to more than $138 billion (U.S Air Force, 2017). In addition, other roles include weapons acquisition, policy development, direction of strategy, risk management, investment in terms of technology and management of human resource across global enterprises. The secretary is also in charge of providing effective cooperation between the Air force and other Department of Defense components with the aim of achieving an efficient, more effective and economical administration. This helps the department to deal with issues such as duplication.
Today the position is taken by Heather Wilson who is the 24th secretary on the Air Force in the United States. She has more than 35 years of experience in light of leadership management roles which are inclusive of higher education, military, government and private industry (U.S Air Force, 2017). She was a member of the House of Representatives from 1998 to 2009 where she served in the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the House Parliament Select Committee on Intelligence, and the House Armed Services Committee. Before her election to congress, Wilson served as a cabinet secretary in New Mexico’s state government. Her role was to oversee adoption, foster care, early childhood education, children mental health, and juvenile delinquency (U.S Air Force, 2017). Most of her career was focused on military endeavors which include serving in the National security council staff from 1989 to 1991 under president George W. Bush, founding Keystone International which is a private company that conducted business development and program planning for both the scientific and defense industries and was also an Air Force officer from 1982-1989. She is also an instrument rated private pilot.
Wilson is a former republican congress woman who after losing in a senatorial bid moved to the private sector. She was therefore a civilian when she was appointed by president Trump with the support of the senate. She therefore answers to the defense secretary who reports to the president and a difference of opinions might cause friction. For example, the president was considering firing Heather because f the way she handled his directive to start a separate Space force in the United States military (Billings, 2018). She angered both the Defense secretary and the Deputy Defense Secretary along with the president with what they term as a campaign to undermine the efforts of the Space Force.
One of the biggest challenges that Wilson faces as the Secretary of the Air Force is the fact that the readiness of the force has grown smaller thus there is need to restore it soon if there are any hopes of winning soon. She feels that the force is getting smaller because of over taxation which results to the force not getting enough training time (Billings, 2018). This will affect the forces readiness to conduct their missions hence a challenge for both the Department of Defense and the Air Force Secretary (Billings, 2018). The size of the force has declined even though the operational tempo is still very high and since they are short of people like pilots in different fields, the staff is under much pressure thus hurting readiness of the force.
In my opinion, Heather Wilson is one of the most qualified people for the United States Air force Secretary. Her background with the military and the defense department gives her an advantage when dealing with force issues. Also, her stand and handling of the presidents’ directive to stand up the United States military force shows confidence, commitment, leadership, and the ability to work even under pressure. Even though she was in a scandal involving corruption, she still has the best ideas on how to improve the force.
The major impacts in history that can be achieved from this position would be inclusive of building the US force to glory. A small bad decision in this position could lead to war which means decisions should be thoroughly considered before being put into practice. This is because the Secretary of Air Force is responsible for making defense related decisions. Other countries like China and Russia take military advances seriously and being a super power, America should always stay ready. With a proper budget, and reduced taxes on defense operation would massively help in the development of the force thus winning future wars.
Billings, L. (2018). A US Space Force? A Very Bad Idea!
U.S Air Force (2017) Heather Wilson. Retrieved from; https://www.af.mil/About-Us/Biographies/Display/Article/1183103/dr-heather-wilson/
United States House of Representatives. https://www.house.gov/