Obama Nominates James for Top Air Force Job

Obama Nominates James for Top Air Force Job

The White House has nominated an executive at the defense contractor SAIC Inc. and a former assistant secretary of defense to be the next Air Force secretary.

President Barack Obama yesterday announced the nomination of Deborah Lee James, president of the technical and engineering sector at the McLean, Va.-based company, to succeed Michael Donley, who retired in June.

If confirmed by the Senate, James will be the second woman to hold the Air Force’s top job. Sheila Widnall, an aerospace researcher and professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, served in the position from 1993 to 1997.


“Deborah’s strong record of public service and leadership in the private sector makes her uniquely qualified to be my nominee for Secretary of the Air Force,” Obama said in a statement.

James, who lives in Virginia, has spent more than a decade at SAIC, according to her LinkedIn profile. She also held leadership positions at Business Executives for National Security, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., and United Technologies Corp., based in Hartford, Conn. Before entering the private sector, she served in government, as assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs from 1993 to 1998 and previously as a staff member on the House Armed Services Committee.

James would become the service’s top civilian leader at a time when the military faces steep budget cuts and criticism over a spate of sexual assault scandals.

The chief of the Air Force’s sexual assault prevention and response branch, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski, 41, in May was arrested and charged with sexual battery after allegedly groping a woman outside a strip club near the Pentagon. The service hired a woman, Maj. Gen. Margaret Woodward, who investigated the abuse of female recruits by trainers at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, to take over the job.

A month earlier, Air Force Lt. Gen. Craig Franklin, commander of the 3rd Air Force at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, ignited a firestorm when he chose to overturn the sexual assault conviction of Lt. Col. James Wilkerson III, a fellow fighter pilot who was accused of fondling the victim as she slept in his guest bedroom.

Legislation has since been introduced that would strip an officer’s authority to change or dismiss a court-martial.

Eric Fanning, undersecretary of the Air Force, is serving as acting Air Force secretary until Donley’s replacement is confirmed, according to the Defense Department.

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there should be a requirement for all service secretarys to have previous service time, How else could they
be expected to understand what “service” is all about?

A private industry leader in charge of the USAF purse? Sounds like the Prez is hoping she can do more belt tightening. Also, let’s hope she does not pull a Druyun and try to help her ‘friends’ at SAIC.

I’m still trying to find what makes her “uniquely qualified” to be SECAF?

It is hard to believe that nobody else in the country is better qualified for this position. The Air Force of today is probably in the worst state it has eve been in since its inception. I don’t think having a SECAF with so little air power background is going to help.

Maybe this will be the start of moving the Air Force back under the Army as a cost savings measure?

Godspeed USAF, you are going to need it.

Typical, political appointee with zero military background — heck I’d feel better if she was at least an aerospace contractor with extensive knowledge on bomber and fighter programs. Instead, another political hack, no surprise there though.….Sad…

I know nothing about her, but if Obama likes her, I don’t.

Fairly often they come from the board rooms of the biggest military contractors. In that regard they completely understand what their job is as a service secretary.

And how much money was donated to the prez from her last company? hmmmmmm

Some tidbits from her bio: “Having worked for a decade as a professional staff member on the House Armed Services Committee, Debbie is knowledgeable of the operations of the U.S. Congress. She specialized in military personnel and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) issues. Following her service in the U.S. House of Representatives, she was nominated by the president and confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve as assistant secretary of defense for Reserve Affairs. She served in this capacity for more than five years, overseeing budgets in excess of $10 billion, supervising a 100-plus-person staff, and performing as the senior advisor to the secretary of defense on all matters pertaining to the 1.8 million National Guard and Reserve Forces.”

I don’t think I would consider her to have zero military experience in this case (unless you are specifically thinking of actual time in uniform).

Beltway Bandit, I don’t need to know anything else.….

One empty suit replaces another empty suit. Status-quo.

This is a great opportunity to solve the sexual assault problem in the military. When you think about it, there are few jobs in the AF that females cannot do, so why not take all females from all services and turn the AF into an all female force and let the other services be ‘manned’ by real men? Of course I’m being facetious (or maybe not). Or else, as one other commenter suggests, abolish the AF as a separate service and put it back under Army control where it belongs.

Pitiful.…. pitiful

$107,559 in 2012, say opensecrets​.org — $77,081 to W. Mitt Romney, in same time period. See http://​www​.opensecrets​.org/​o​r​g​s​/​s​u​m​m​a​r​y​.​p​h​p​?​i​d​=D0

Revolving door again — private, public, private sector. Next stop, lobbyist for Boeing or Lockheed.

If Obama wants her in there she has already been asked the question and passed the test; Will you issue orders to fire on Americans if I order it? The top Military people that have said no all have been retired or replaced.

The Marines nor the Navy will not follow order if it comes, not so sure about the AF or Army

Deborah Lee James seems to have excellent academic, political and gender qualifications.

The next step in outsourcing — outsource the leadership to a contracting firm executive.

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” — I wonder what racist, sexist bigot said that?

It seems a shame that sexual issues are at the top ot the discussion list when the military is facing much more urgent force structure and fuure readiness issues.

I bet she is an expert at parting out and closing down businesses. Fits the presidents aim to dismantle the military.

Wth are “gender qualifications”?

Blah! Blah! Blah.….. Another political hack that can’t hit their “six” with both hands!

and you are of course qualified to determine where the AF belongs? Under Army control proved a disaster in WWII because the army did not understand fundamental air power doctrine, even though it was Army aviators who wrote it! Why not abolish the Navy’s Air Force or put the Army’s Air Force under the US Air Force?

Why did DoDBuzz delete both of my posts correcting the narrative about Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski. Doesn’t fit the anti-military sex assault haven narrative?

I second that opinion! And service experience should be a MUST.

More executives in govt, as if executive-in-chief (Bush Jr, Sr) was any better than Juris-Doctorate-in-Chief (Andrew Jackson (no formal law education) Obama, Clinton, Lincoln, Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon, John Adams, Madison, Jefferson [admitted to bar, no juris doctorate?], almost all POTUS), farmer-in-chief (Andrew Jackson, Carter, George Washington, Monroe), actor-in-chief (Reagan), Undergrad-in-Chief/Schoolteacher-in-Chief/Professional-Politician-in-Chief (LBJ, Coolidge? Harding?), Engineer-in-Chief (Hoover), Law-school-dropout-in-chief (FDR, Woodrow Wilson) , soldier-in-chief (Eisenhower, William H Harrison, US Grant)

And before we go worshiping military service, an abbreviated list:
No military experience: Obama, Clinton, FDR, Hoover, Coolidge, Harding, Madison, John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Thomas Jefferson
Military experience: Bush Jr, Bush Sr, Ford, Carter, Nixon, LBJ, JFK, Eisenhower, Truman, Lincoln(mustered for militia, did not shoot Indians), Washington, Monroe, Andrew Jackson
And if you winnow it down direct combat, the military experience list shifts to:
Bush Sr, Ford, Kennedy, Truman(WW1), Washington, Monroe, Andrew Jackson, William Henry Harrison

Congress is weird. When you put a guy that talks about “pit of hell” into a congressional committee on science and tech, and a guy who thinks too many Marines on Guam will capsize an immovable island, you know you sent the wrong guys to Congress. The Founders were probably the smartest people in the country (multilingual, literate and rich in a land of partly-literate farmers); and Congress is a mix of JD’s and…?

By the way; the best presidents are clearly farmers. They also seem to correlate strongly with direct combat experience.

Edit: Augh damnit, Wikipedia already listed prez’ by occupation.
http://​en​.wikipedia​.org/​w​i​k​i​/​L​i​s​t​_​o​f​_​U​n​i​t​e​d​_​S​t​ate
(This list omits to mention that Monroe served in the Revolutionary War, and was wounded at Trenton).

what bothers me is how all these former staffers climb ‚no , slide to the top.

As an AF major, I worked closely with Ms. James during BRAC in 1995–96 and found her to be classy, bright, articulate, and a very quick study on issues affecting bases being closed and the impacts those closures would/could have on the military personnel stationed at the closing facility and the communities surrounding the facility.
… And I’m a retired AF Officer and a Republican saying that. We should judge based on merit, not stereotypes. I’d work with/for her again.

Mabe she can bring the Air Force back up to Military standards…The Navy is next. Neither one of them think they are apart of the DoD.

Saying the USAF is in its worst state since its inception is at best hyperbole and at worst delusion. The USAF of the 1970s was much worse than the current force from a professionalism and readiness perspective. Wife-swapping at places like Elmendorf led to fights within squadrons; pilots were known to routinely hop into their F-4 cockpits drunk, and the mortality rate as a result was ridiculous. Pilots were also known to “borrow” aircraft and go on joyrides and personal errands.

It is true that today’s force faces major identity and cultural issues. With most major combat operations of the last two decades featuring the USMC and the Army, and with no major airspace dominance issues foreseen by war planners, the USAF feels like it has taken a back seat to other services. With the rise of drones, the macho culture of fighter jocks has taken a major hit. With all of those factors, the USAF isn’t sure who it is, what it’s mission is, or that it has the esteem of the American public or even fellow members of the military. All of that creates a crisis of culture that Ms. James will face upon confirmation.

DoD Buzz…I should be able to use the word cockpit without it being censored. Your filters are too sensitive!

Go figure; history’s nostalgia is usually a product of short term memory and a few decades of whitewash between now and “then”.

Combat experience?? How about Grant, Garfield, Mc Kinley and T. Roosevelt?

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