Obama nominates woman to lead Air Force

Updated
Graduating 2nd Lieutenant Natalie Justice, right, smiles during the commencement ceremony for the class of 2013, at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado,...
Graduating 2nd Lieutenant Natalie Justice, right, smiles during the commencement ceremony for the class of 2013, at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado,...
Brennan Linsley/AP

A former assistant secretary of defense and defense industry executive could become the Air Force’s next secretary, the White House announced Thursday.

President Obama nominated Deborah Lee James, who if confirmed would be the second woman to ever lead the Air Force. James would replace Michael Donley, who stepped down in June after holding the position for five years.

“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. “I look forward to working with her to keep our Air Force the very best in the world and to keep faith with our extraordinary Air Force personnel and their families.”

Obama’s nomination comes as the military at large deals with a growing controversy of sexual assault. Lt. Col. Jeff Krusinski, an Air Force officer tasked with sexual assault prevention, was arrested in May and charged with sexual battery for allegedly attacking a woman in a suburban Virginia parking lot.

James is currently the president of the technology and engineering sector at Science Applications International Corp. She also served as the executive vice president of communications and CEO at Business Executives for national security.

Obama nominates woman to lead Air Force

Updated