Barbara Barrett was sworn in as the 25th secretary of the Air Force on Friday, two days after the Senate voted to confirm her 85-7.
“I’m conscious of the extraordinary privilege of working with the men & women of the @usairforce,” she said in the tweet with her video. “We’ve got a lot to do & I’m ready to get to work!”
Later that afternoon, Chief of Staff Gen. Dave Goldfein welcomed her to the Air Force in a tweet, and shared a photo of the pair walking through the Pentagon.
“The men and women of our Air Force are in capable hands under her leadership — welcome to the team!” Goldfein wrote.
Barrett is an instrument-rated pilot who in 2009 trained at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia, and Kazakhstan, and was certified for space travel. She is also the first civilian woman to land in an F/A-18 Hornet on an aircraft carrier.
She is a former chairwoman of the nonprofit Aerospace Corporation, which operates a federally funded research and development center focused solely on space. She has previously sat on the boards of the Rand Corp. and Raytheon, and was a member of the Pentagon’s Defense Business Board.
Barrett has voiced strong support for the creation of an independent Space Force, and if Congress does establish it as the sixth branch of the military, the Air Force secretary would likely end up heading it, much as the Navy secretary heads the Marine Corps.
Her nomination was put on hold for several weeks by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., who was seeking her assurances that airmen would no longer stay at properties owned by President Donald Trump.
Over the past four or five years, the Air Force has increasingly used Glascow Prestwick Airport in Scotland as a stopover for aircrews transiting the globe, and airmen have on occasion stayed at Trump Turnberry golf resort, about 45 miles away. As of September, the Pentagon had spent almost $200,000 for lodgings at the resort.
Barrett did not provide those assurances, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was ultimately forced to hold procedural votes to get to Barrett’s confirmation vote. Blumenthal voted against Barrett, as did Sens. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill.; Ed Markey, D-Mass.; Ron Wyden, D-Ore.; Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.; Tina Smith, D-Minn.; and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.
Barrett’s nomination was strongly supported by former Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., a friend and former A-10 Warthog pilot, among others.
Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at Military.com. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.