Donovan Tapped to be Acting Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness

Matthew Donovan will assume a new role as acting Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness following the resignation of Jimmy Stewart on Dec. 13, Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced. 

Esper said Donovan will bring a “wealth of experience and knowledge” to the job. 

Donovan has served as undersecretary of the Air Force since August 2017, though he was named acting Secretary of the Air Force from June to October 2019 after Heather Wilson stepped down to become president of the University of Texas-El Paso. He served as an enlisted airmen for five years, before getting his commission, and was a command pilot with more than 2,900 flight hours in the F-15C and F-5E. Donovan held various command positions before retiring as a colonel in 2008. His last assignment in uniform was as commander of Officer Training School at Maxwell AFB, Ala., but Donovan also has held a variety of positions as an Air Force civilian, including as deputy chief of staff for strategic plans and programs. He worked for the Senate Armed Services Committee from January 2015 to August 2017 before coming back to the Air Force as undersecretary. 

Stewart also is an Air Force veteran who served nearly four decades, both on Active Duty and in the Air Force Reserve, before retiring as a major general in October 2014. He was sworn in as assistant secretary of defense for manpower and reserve affairs on Oct. 22, 2018, but has been performing the duties of undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness since then— “a role that is critical to the National Defense Strategy, in support of our families and readiness,” said Esper in a statement. Stewart also is a command pilot, with more than 4,700 flight hours in five different air frames.

“I note that Jimmy came out of retirement, after having served 37 years in the Air Force, to serve his country again. It’s people like Jimmy, the selfless individuals who put service before self, who are the backbone of this country. I thank Jimmy and his family for their service to the department and the nation, and wish him the best in his retirement,” Esper said.