Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) has released her hold on the nomination of Deborah James to be the next Air Force Secretary and said she supports James’ nomination, according to Ayotte’s spokeswoman Liz Johnson. The decision to lift the hold—which Ayotte put in place on Sept 24—came following “a careful review of responses from the Air Force regarding potential plans to retire the A-10,” Johnson told the Daily Report on Oct 17. Johnson said Ayotte “remains concerned that prematurely retiring the A-10 could put our troops at risk, and she will continue to engage with the Air Force and Pentagon officials in order to ensure our ground forces have the close air support they need to accomplish their missions and return home safely.” The Senate is now on recess until Oct. 28, after which the Senate Armed Services Committee could vote on James’ nomination. Ayotte “looks forward to working with her once she is confirmed,” said Johnson.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.