Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ceremoniously swore in Deborah Lee James as the 23rd Secretary of the Air Force at the Pentagon Friday. Although he addressed morale issues in the Air Force’s ICBM community, Hagel said airmen today continue to push boundaries and innovate. He noted that leadership will be critical to the future success of America’s air service, touting his confidence in James’ abilities to listen and act decisively. He also referenced her previous tenure in the Office of the Secretary of Defense in the 1990s, as well as her time working on the Senate Armed Services Committee. After her swearing in, James (who was formally sworn in last month in a private ceremony) said the experience had been a bit “surreal” until she stood on the stage with Hagel and Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh at the Pentagon. “It feels like the deal is sealed now,” she remarked. In her brief speech, James said she is committed to ensuring USAF stays on the path toward greater affordability and capability, while leveraging the strengths of all three of its components—the Active Duty, Air National Guard, and Air Force Reserve. “I said from the start I really want to focus on people. I am convinced that people underpin everything we do,” she added. (AFNS report) (Hagel speech)
The F-35 Joint Program Office has officially announced plans to issue multiple sole-source contracts to Pratt & Whitney to upgrade the fighter’s F135 engine—a widely expected move after Pentagon officials indicated they would do so earlier this year instead of developing an entirely new engine.