President Donald Trump will nominate Heather Wilson to be the next Secretary of the Air Force, according to a White House press release issued Monday. Wilson has been the president of the South Dakota School of Mines since 2013. Before that, she served five terms in the US Congress, representing New Mexico’s 1st District. During her congressional career, Wilson served on the Energy and Commerce Committee, the Armed Services Committee, and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. In 2008 she chose not to run for re-election to the House in order to pursue an open Senate seat from New Mexico. She lost in the Republican primary and retired from the House in 2009. Wilson graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1982 as a member of the third class graduating women. She was a Rhodes scholar, earning a master’s and doctorate in international relations at Oxford University. She served in the Air Force until 1989, when she joined the National Security Council and worked on issues related to European defense. If confirmed, she will be the first Academy graduate to serve as Secretary of the Air Force, according to the White House. “Heather Wilson is going to make an outstanding Secretary of the Air Force,” Trump said. “Her distinguished military service, high level of knowledge, and success in so many different fields gives me great confidence that she will lead our nation’s Air Force with the greatest competence and integrity.”
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.