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United States Secretary of the Air Force

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Secretary of the Air Force
Seal of the Department of the Air Force
Flag of the secretary
Frank Kendall III
since July 28, 2021
Department of the Air Force
StyleMr. Secretary
The Honorable
(formal address in writing)
Reports toSecretary of Defense
Deputy Secretary of Defense
AppointerThe President
with the advice and consent of the Senate
Term lengthNo fixed term
PrecursorSecretary of War
Inaugural holderStuart Symington
FormationSeptember 18, 1947; 76 years ago (1947-09-18)
Succession3rd in SecDef succession
DeputyThe Under Secretary
(principal civilian deputy)
The Chief of Staff
(military deputy)
The Chief of Space Operations (military deputy)
SalaryExecutive Schedule, Level II
WebsiteOffice of the Secretary

The Secretary of the Air Force, sometimes referred to as the Secretary of the Department of the Air Force,[1] (SecAF, or SAF/OS) is the head of the Department of the Air Force and the service secretary for the United States Air Force and United States Space Force. The secretary of the Air Force is a civilian appointed by the president, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate.[2] The secretary reports to the secretary of defense and/or the deputy secretary of defense, and is by statute responsible for and has the authority to conduct all the affairs of the Department of the Air Force.[2][3]

The secretary works closely with their civilian deputy, the under secretary of the Air Force; and their military deputies, the chief of staff of the Air Force and the chief of space operations.

The first secretary of the Air Force, Stuart Symington, was sworn in on September 18, 1947, upon the split and re-organization of the Department of War and Army Air Forces into an air military department and a military service of its own, with the enactment of the National Security Act.

On July 26, 2021 the United States Senate confirmed Frank Kendall III as the next Secretary of the Air Force. On July 28, 2021, Kendall was sworn in as the 26th Secretary of the Air Force.

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Stuart Symington is sworn-in as the first Secretary of the Air Force by Chief Justice Fred M. Vinson on September 18, 1947.

The secretary is the head of the Department of the Air Force. The Department of the Air Force is defined as a Military Department.[4] It is not limited to the Washington headquarters staffs, rather it is an entity which includes all the components of the United States Air Force and United States Space Force, including their reserve components:

The term 'department', when used with respect to a military department, means the executive part of the department and all field headquarters, forces, reserve components, installations, activities, and functions under the control or supervision of the Secretary of the department.[5]

The exclusive responsibilities of the secretary of the Air Force are enumerated in 10 U.S.C. § 9013(b) of the United States Code. They include, but are not limited to:

(1) Recruiting.
(2) Organizing.
(3) Supplying.
(4) Equipping (including research and development).
(5) Training.
(6) Servicing.
(7) Mobilizing.
(8) Demobilizing.
(9) Administering (including the morale and welfare of personnel).
(10) Maintaining.
(11) The construction, outfitting, and repair of military equipment.

(12) The construction, maintenance, and repair of buildings, structures, and utilities and the acquisition of real property and interests in real property necessary to carry out the responsibilities specified in this section.[3]

By direction of the secretary of defense, the secretary of the Air Force assigns military units of the Air Force and Space Force, other than those who carry out the functions listed in 10 U.S.C. § 9013(b), to the Unified and Specified Combatant Commands to perform missions assigned to those commands. Air Force and Space Force units while assigned to Combatant Commands may only be reassigned by authority of the secretary of defense.[6]

However, the chain of command for Air Force and Space Force units for other purposes than the operational direction goes from the president to the secretary of defense to the secretary of the Air Force to the commanders of Air Force and Space Force Commands.[7] Air Force and Space Force officers have to report on any matter to the secretary, or the secretary's designate, when requested. The secretary has the authority to detail, prescribe the duties, and to assign Air Force and Space Force service members and civilian employees, and may also change the title of any activity not statutorily designated.[8] The secretary has several responsibilities under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) with respect to Air Force and Space Force service members, including the authority to convene general courts martial and to commute sentences.

The secretary of the Air Force may also be assigned additional responsibilities by the president or the secretary of defense,[9] e.g. the secretary is designated as the "DoD Executive Agent for Space", and as such:

... shall develop, coordinate, and integrate plans and programs for space systems and the acquisition of DoD Space Major Defense Acquisition Programs to provide operational space force capabilities to ensure the United States has the space power to achieve its national security objectives.[10][11]

Office of the Secretary of the Air Force

Office of the Secretary of the Air Force
Agency overview
Parent agencyDepartment of the Air Force
Secretary of the Air Force Verne Orr with Chairman of The Joint Chiefs of Staff General David C. Jones and Air Force Chief of Staff General Lew Allen and Air Force Vice Chief of Staff General Robert C. Mathis at Bolling Air Force Base on May 28, 1982

The secretary of the Air Force's principal staff element, the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force, has responsibility for acquisition and auditing, comptroller issues (including financial management), inspector general matters, legislative affairs, and public affairs within the Department of the Air Force. The Office of the Secretary of the Air Force is one of the Department of the Air Force's three headquarter staffs at the seat of government, with the others being the Air Staff and the Office of the Chief of Space Operations.


The Office of the Secretary of the Air Force is composed of:

List of secretaries of the Air Force

No. Portrait Secretary of the Air Force Took office Left office Time in office Secretary of Defense President
1Stuart Symington
September 18, 1947April 24, 19502 years, 218 daysJames Vincent Forrestal
Louis A. Johnson
Harry S. Truman
2Thomas K. Finletter
April 24, 1950January 20, 19532 years, 271 daysLouis A. Johnson
George Marshall
Robert Abercrombie Lovett
Harry S. Truman
3Harold E. Talbott
February 4, 1953August 13, 19552 years, 190 daysCharles Erwin WilsonDwight D. Eisenhower
4Donald A. Quarles
August 15, 1955April 30, 1957−2 daysCharles Erwin WilsonDwight D. Eisenhower
5James H. Douglas, Jr.
May 1, 1957December 10, 19592 years, 223 daysCharles Erwin Wilson
Neil Hosler McElroy
Thomas S. Gates Jr.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
6Dudley C. Sharp
December 11, 1959January 20, 19611 year, 40 daysThomas S. Gates Jr.Dwight D. Eisenhower
7Eugene M. Zuckert
January 24, 1961September 30, 19654 years, 249 daysRobert McNamaraJohn F. Kennedy
8Harold Brown
October 1, 1965February 15, 19693 years, 137 daysRobert McNamara
Clark McAdams Clifford
Melvin Laird
Lyndon B. Johnson
9Robert C. Seamans, Jr.
February 15, 1969May 15, 19734 years, 89 daysMelvin Laird
Elliot Richardson
Richard Nixon
-John L. McLucas
May 15, 1973July 18, 197364 daysElliot Richardson
James R. Schlesinger
Richard Nixon
10John L. McLucas
July 18, 1973November 23, 19752 years, 128 daysJames R. Schlesinger
Donald Rumsfeld
Richard Nixon
11Thomas C. Reed
January 2, 1976April 6, 19771 year, 94 daysDonald Rumsfeld
Harold Brown
Richard Nixon
12John C. Stetson
April 6, 1977May 18, 19792 years, 42 daysHarold BrownJimmy Carter
-Hans Mark
May 18, 1979July 26, 197969 daysHarold BrownJimmy Carter
13Hans Mark
July 26, 1979February 9, 19811 year, 198 daysHarold Brown
Caspar Weinberger
Jimmy Carter
14Verne Orr
February 9, 1981November 30, 19854 years, 294 daysCaspar WeinbergerRonald Reagan
15Russell A. Rourke
December 9, 1985April 6, 1986118 daysCaspar WeinbergerRonald Reagan
-Edward C. Aldridge Jr.
(born 1938)
April 6, 1986June 8, 198663 daysCaspar WeinbergerRonald Reagan
16Edward C. Aldridge Jr.
(born 1938)
June 9, 1986December 16, 19882 years, 190 daysCaspar Weinberger
Frank Carlucci
Ronald Reagan
-James F. McGovern
(born 1946)
December 16, 1988April 29, 1989134 daysFrank Carlucci
Dick Cheney
Ronald Reagan
-John J. Welch, Jr.
April 29, 1989May 21, 198922 daysDick CheneyGeorge H. W. Bush
17Donald B. Rice
(born 1939)
May 21, 1989January 20, 19933 years, 244 daysDick CheneyGeorge H. W. Bush
-Michael B. Donley
(born 1952)
January 20, 1993July 13, 1993174 daysLes AspinBill Clinton
-Merrill A. McPeak
(born 1936)
July 14, 1993August 5, 199322 daysLes AspinBill Clinton
18Sheila Widnall
(born 1938)
August 6, 1993October 31, 19974 years, 86 daysLes Aspin
William J. Perry
William Cohen
Bill Clinton
-F. Whitten Peters
(born 1946)
November 1, 1997July 30, 19991 year, 271 daysWilliam CohenBill Clinton
19F. Whitten Peters
(born 1946)
July 30, 1999January 20, 20011 year, 174 daysWilliam CohenBill Clinton
-Lawrence J. Delaney
(born 1935)
January 21, 2001May 31, 2001130 daysDonald RumsfeldGeorge W. Bush
20James G. Roche
(born 1939)
June 1, 2001January 20, 20053 years, 233 daysDonald RumsfeldGeorge W. Bush
-Peter B. Teets
January 20, 2005March 25, 200564 daysDonald RumsfeldGeorge W. Bush
-Michael Montelongo
(born 1955)
March 25, 2005March 28, 20053 daysDonald RumsfeldGeorge W. Bush
-Michael L. Dominguez
(born 1953)
March 28, 2005July 29, 2005123 daysDonald RumsfeldGeorge W. Bush
-Pete Geren[13]
(born 1952)
July 29, 2005November 4, 200598 daysDonald RumsfeldGeorge W. Bush
21Michael Wynne[14]
(born 1944)
November 4, 2005June 20, 20082 years, 229 daysDonald Rumsfeld
Robert Gates
George W. Bush
-Michael B. Donley
(born 1952)
June 21, 2008October 2, 2008103 daysRobert GatesGeorge W. Bush
22Michael B. Donley
(born 1952)
October 2, 2008June 21, 20134 years, 262 daysRobert Gates
Leon Panetta
Chuck Hagel
George W. Bush
Barack Obama
-Eric Fanning
(born 1968)
June 21, 2013December 20, 2013182 daysChuck Hagel
Ash Carter
Barack Obama
23Deborah Lee James
(born 1958)
December 20, 2013January 20, 20173 years, 31 daysAsh CarterBarack Obama
-Lisa Disbrow
(born 1962)
January 20, 2017May 16, 2017116 daysJim MattisDonald Trump
24Heather Wilson
(born 1960)
May 16, 2017May 31, 20192 years, 15 daysPatrick M. Shanahan (acting)Donald Trump
-Matthew Donovan
(born 1957/1958)
June 1, 2019October 18, 2019139 daysMark EsperDonald Trump
25Barbara Barrett
(born 1950)
October 18, 2019January 20, 20211 year, 94 daysMark EsperDonald Trump
-John P. Roth
(born 1952/1953)
January 20, 2021July 28, 2021189 daysLloyd AustinJoe Biden
26Frank Kendall III
(born 1949)
July 28, 2021Incumbent2 years, 256 daysLloyd AustinJoe Biden

See also



  1. ^ "Department of Defense Instruction Number 3100.12" (PDF). Executive Services Directorate. September 14, 2000. Archived (PDF) from the original on November 13, 2023.
  2. ^ a b 10 U.S.C. § 9013(a)
  3. ^ a b 10 U.S.C. § 9013(b)
  4. ^ 10 U.S.C. § 101(a)(8)
  5. ^ 10 U.S.C. § 101(a)(6)
  6. ^ 10 USC 162 (a)
  7. ^ DODD 5100.1, 6.1.
  8. ^ 10 USC 8013 (f-g)
  9. ^ 10 USC 8013 (d)
  10. ^ DODD 5101.2, 3. MISSION
  11. ^ "DoD Executive Agent".
  13. ^ DefenseLink News Article: Army Secretary Resigns in Wake of Walter Reed Outpatient-Care Shortfalls
  14. ^ Air Force Almanac 2011, Accessed on September 12, 2011

External links

This page was last edited on 29 March 2024, at 19:17
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