Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett to Depart Before Inauguration

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Secretary of the Air Force Barbara M. Barrett meets with airmen
Secretary of the Air Force Barbara M. Barrett meets with airmen from the 100th Civil Engineer Squadron fire department during her visit to RAF Mildenhall, United Kingdom, Feb. 13, 2020. (Luke Milano/U.S. Air Force)

Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett will resign from her post prior to President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration ceremony next week, according to an announcement.

The Air Force will host a retirement ceremony for Barrett, its fourth female secretary, Thursday at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C., the service said in an AF.mil post Tuesday.

The Senate confirmed Barrett to be the 25th Air Force secretary in October 2019, following the departure of Heather Wilson.

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President Donald Trump announced via Twitter in May 2019 that Barrett was his pick after Wilson had vacated the job weeks earlier to take a university position in Texas. Barrett had previously been nominated for the job in 2003 but was never confirmed, according to a report from Defense News.

Barrett is the first service secretary to announce her departure. Dr. Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics, is also expected to step down.

Defense News reported in December that the Biden administration is weighing keeping Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy in his position for at least another year. However, it is unclear whether that is still on the table in the wake of a delayed National Guard response to insurrectionists storming the Capitol last week; the Army secretary plays a major role in authorizing Guardsmen in the District of Columbia since it has no governor.

Officials said Barrett would remain in her position until the inauguration.

Service secretaries have typically resigned or offered to leave when a new administration comes in, but there have been exceptions.

Michael Donley, the 22nd Air Force secretary, was nominated by President George W. Bush in June 2008 and confirmed months later. President Barack Obama reappointed him to the position in 2009.

Robert O. Work, the deputy secretary of defense under the Obama administration, attended his retirement ceremony even as he agreed to stay on in an acting capacity under the Trump administration, according to Defense News' Aaron Mehta.

The service noted that Thursday's ceremony will also honor Roper, Air Force Undersecretary Shon J. Manasco, Comptroller John P. Roth, General Counsel Thomas E. Ayres, and Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Environment and Energy John W. Henderson.

Editor's Note: This story was updated to clarify that Barrett will continue serving until the inauguration despite holding her formal retirement earlier.

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @oriana0214.

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