Senate Schedules Joint Confirmation Hearing for Army, Air Force Leaders

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Ryan McCarthy, the current under secretary of the Army, and  former diplomat and businesswoman Barbara Barrett (Images: U.S. Army and NASA)
Ryan McCarthy, the current under secretary of the Army, and former diplomat and businesswoman Barbara Barrett (Images: U.S. Army and NASA)

Lawmakers have scheduled a joint confirmation hearing next week for President Donald Trump's nominees to be the next civilian leaders of the Army and Air Force.

The Senate Armed Services Committee is planning to hear from both Ryan McCarthy and Barbara Barrett on Sept. 12, according to the committee's calendar. However, the White House has yet to send over their formal nominations.

Trump announced in June that he planned to nominate McCarthy, the current under secretary of the Army, to be the service's secretary.

The president announced via Twitter in May that Barrett, a former diplomat and businesswoman, was his pick to be the service's 25th secretary.

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The Senate similarly scheduled a confirmation hearing for Mark Esper as defense secretary before lawmakers received his nomination package from the White House. Esper was confirmed shortly after his hearing in July, marking the first time since January that the Pentagon had a Senate-confirmed secretary of defense.

Lawmakers have been eager to fill top Pentagon positions, many of which have been vacant for months or are being filled by officials in an acting capacity.

McCarthy has been serving as the acting Army secretary since Esper was promoted to the top Pentagon job. Meanwhile, Matt Donovan, the under secretary of the Air Force, has filled the service's top civilian position since Heather Wilson left to take a top university position in May.

McCarthy has held the role of acting Army secretary before. He served in the position from August to November 2017 prior to Esper's confirmation to the post.

Before that, McCarthy worked for defense contractor Lockheed Martin Corp., where he was vice president for the sustainment program for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. A former Army Ranger, he has also served as special assistant to Defense Secretary Robert Gates and as vice president of commercial financing for the Hong Kong Shanghai Bank Corporation.

Barrett, a former chair of the Aerospace Corporation, served as the U.S. ambassador to Finland under President George W. Bush.

She was nominated to be Air Force secretary in 2003 but was never confirmed, according to a report from Defense News. In 2009, she trained in Russia as a backup astronaut for a flight to the International Space Station, according to the Ravalli Republic.

If confirmed, Barrett would be the fourth female Air Force secretary, succeeding Wilson. Deborah Lee James held the post under President Barack Obama; Sheila E. Widnall served in President Bill Clinton's administration.

-- Hope Hodge Seck contributed to this report.

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.

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