Trump announces pick for next Air Force secretary

President Donald Trump announced Tuesday that he intends to nominate Barbara Barrett, former chairwoman of the Aerospace Corporation, as his next Air Force secretary.

If confirmed by the Senate, Barrett will replace Heather Wilson who resigned from the post in March with plans to return to academia.

“I am pleased to announce my nomination of Barbara Barrett of Arizona, and former Chairman of the Aerospace Corporation, to be the next Secretary of the Air Force. She will be an outstanding Secretary! #FlyFightWin,” Trump tweeted.

As chairwoman of the Aerospace Corporation’s Board of Trustees, Barrett oversaw a “$1 billion federally funded research and development center for national security and military space systems,” according to her biography page on the Committee for Economic Development website.

She has also “advised five American presidents on trade and defense policy,” and served as US ambassador to Finland under President George W. Bush, according to the website.

Republican Sen. Kevin Cramer, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, applauded Trump’s announcement.

“I am pleased to see President Trump nominate a well-qualified candidate to this important post. North Dakota’s Air Force bases are a foundational part of our state, and they play a pivotal role in the defense of our country. I look forward to meeting to discuss my priorities and to hear about her vision for leading this branch of our military,” he said in a statement.

Wilson also tweeted her support for Barrett Tuesday calling the move a “Wonderful choice by the President!”

In her March resignation letter to Trump, Wilson said she would leave government to become the next President of the University of Texas at El Paso in September pending a favorable final vote by the University of Texas Board of Regents. The university confirmed her appointment in April.

“It has been a privilege to serve alongside our Airmen over the past two years and I am proud of the progress that we have made restoring our nation’s defense. We have improved the readiness of the force; we have cut years out of acquisition schedules and gotten better prices through competition; we have repealed hundreds of superfluous regulations; and we have strengthened our ability to deter and dominate in space,” she said in her letter.

“I very much appreciate the opportunity to have served. I remain a strong advocate for our nation’s defense and an Airman for life,” Wilson added.

At the time, Trump tweeted his thanks. “Congratulations to Heather Wilson, who is the sole finalist to become the next President of University of Texas at El Paso effective September 1, 2019. Heather has done an absolutely fantastic job … as Secretary of the Air Force, and I know she will be equally great in the very important world of higher education. A strong thank you to Heather for her service,” he wrote.

CNN’s Barbara Starr and Ryan Browne contributed reporting