James ceremoniously sworn-in by Hagel

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Deborah Lee James, the 23rd secretary of the Air Force, was ceremoniously sworn in by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel at the Pentagon Jan 24.


Hagel called James well suited to lead the Air Force as the nation faces an increasingly uncertain security environment.


"The rise of emerging powers, dangerous rogue states, affiliated terrorist organizations, and the proliferation of technology will mean more contested and complicated domains, from space to cyber to sea lanes," he said.


Hagel noted that James has spent the last 30 years serving on the staff of the House Armed Services Committee, at the Pentagon, where she served three secretaries of defense, as well as in the private sector. Her approach, he said, "has been to understand the problems and opportunities, listen carefully, and then act decisively." This, he added, will make her a success leading the Air Force.


At today's ceremony, Hagel said he, James and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark. A. Welsh III are deeply concerned "about the overall health and professionalism and discipline of our strategic forces," and called the problems facing the new Air Force secretary daunting. But he credited James with a "swift, decisive and thoughtful response," to the matter after she visited missile bases around the country in recent days. Even so, he said, "restoring confidence in the nuclear mission will be a top priority."


James, who was officially sworn in as secretary last month, thanked her family, friends and mentors for their support along the way.


“I owe a deep debt of gratitude to everyone who has been a source of support to me,” James said.  “As our former Secretary of State, Senator, and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton famously wrote, ‘It takes a village.’  Well, look around you, for you are the village of my life.  I am humbled and grateful that you are with me. “


From the start, James’ focus has been on people. 

“Our Airmen form the foundation of all we do,” James said. “Over the last few weeks, I have been able to look into the eyes of young Airmen who stand sentinel for our country.   I have heard the pride in our Airmen’s voices, the pride they have in their profession and as members of the United States Air Force.”

James pledged to leave the Air Force some years from now on a path toward greater capability and better affordability, but cautioned the service will continue to face difficult challenges and trade-offs brought on by shrinking budgets. She recognized that this is no easy feat, but is optimistic none the less.


“I have such respect and appreciation for the Air Force’s great leadership team and for the remarkable dedication and boundless energy our Airmen bring to the task every day,” James said. “Clearly, we have a lot of work ahead of us.  But there’s no time to lose, and I’m eager to get started.  It is an honor and a privilege to serve as the 23rd Secretary of the Air Force.”