President Donald Trump announced on Tuesday he had nominated Barbara Barrett, a former ambassador and Arizona businesswoman, to lead the US Air Force.
Barrett, 68, served as the US ambassador to Finland from 2008 to 2009 under the George W. Bush administration. She also chaired an aeronautics research and development center, The Aerospace Corporation, until 2017.
“She will be an outstanding Secretary!” Trump tweeted.
A former lawyer and test pilot, Barrett is also a board member at the Rand Corporation, a think tank that provides research and analysis to the US armed forces.
She and her husband Craig, the former CEO of American technology giant Intel, are major Republican donors. Barrett ran for governor of Arizona on the GOP ticket in 1994, the first woman to do so, but she failed to secure her party’s nomination.
If she is confirmed, Barrett will succeed another woman, Heather Wilson, in the position of secretary of the air force.
Wilson’s name had come up as a potential replacement for Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who resigned in December because of differences over Trump’s policies on Syria and other issues.
Wilson stepped down in March, the highest level Pentagon departure since that of Mattis, once it became apparent that interim Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan would stay in that post.