United States Secretary of the Air Force

Secretary of the Air Force
SecAF Seal.png
Seal of the Secretary of the Air Force
Flag of the Secretary of the Air Force.svg
Flag of the Secretary of the Air Force
Heather Wilson Air Force Secretary.jpg
Incumbent
Heather Wilson

since May 16, 2017
Department of the Air Force
StyleMadam 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
Inaugural holderStuart Symington
FormationSeptember 18, 1947; 70 years ago (1947-09-18)
Succession4th in SecDef succession
DeputyThe Under Secretary
(principal civilian deputy)
The Chief of Staff
(military advisor and deputy)
SalaryExecutive Schedule, Level II
WebsiteOfficial website

The Secretary of the Air Force (SecAF, or SAF/OS) is the head of the Department of the Air Force, a component organization within the Department of Defense of the United States. The Secretary of the Air Force is appointed from civilian life by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate.[1] 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]

The Secretary works closely with his/her civilian deputy, the Under Secretary of the Air Force; and his/her military deputy, the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, who is the senior ranked uniformed officer in the United States Air Force.

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

On May 16, 2017, Heather Wilson was sworn in as the next Secretary of the Air Force. Wilson was nominated by President Donald Trump on January 23, 2017, and confirmed by the US Senate on May 8, 2017.

Responsibilities

The Secretary is the head of the Department of the Air Force, analogous to that of a chief executive officer of a corporation. The Department of the Air Force is defined as a Military Department.[3] It is not limited to the Washington headquarter staffs, rather it is an entity which includes all the components of the United States Air Force and the Air National Guard:

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.[4]

The exclusive responsibilities of the Secretary of the Air Force are enumerated in Title 10 Section 8013 (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.[5]

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

By direction of the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of the Air Force assigns military units of the Department of the Air Force, other than those who carry out the functions listed in 10 USC 8013 (b), to the Unified and Specified Combatant Commands to perform missions assigned to those commands. Air 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 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 Commands.[7] Air 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 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 service members, including to 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]