Gates Swears In Donley as New Air Force Secretary
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 17, 2008 Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates swore in acting Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley as the 22nd Secretary of the Air Force during a ceremony held at the Air Force Memorial here today.
Donley has served as the acting-Air Force Secretary since June 21. He was confirmed by the Senate on Oct. 2.
The new secretary thanked Gates for his support and pledged to maintain America’s military air power as the world’s best.
“The Air Force is a world-class institution with a rich and vibrant heritage,” Donley said after being sworn in. “Millions of America’s airmen have worn its uniform with pride and affection, and millions of civilians have served alongside them.”
The Air Force is taking the necessary steps to strengthen its nuclear enterprise, Donley said, and to restore excellence in its acquisition realm.
The 61-year-old Air Force, Donley said, is an important joint and interagency partner that provides global reach and power -- assets that have proved valuable in the fight against transnational terrorism.
“And, it is in these roles that our interagency and coalition partnerships will increasingly be critical to strategic success,” Donley said.
Gates, a former Air Force intelligence officer, saluted Donley as the right choice to lead today’s airmen.
“Mike brings decades of experience in the military, the government, and the private sector to this post,” Gates said, noting that Donley is a former assistant secretary of the Air Force for financial management and was acting secretary for several months in 1993. He also served on the Senate Armed Services Committee and National Security Council staffs, and is a former Army and Special Force’s paratrooper, who later became the Pentagon’s chief administrator.
Gates cited the Air Force’s important role as a key contributor to the nation’s defense.
“Today’s Air Force has been deployed, and in some phase of war, for 18 years,” Gates said, since Iraq invaded Kuwait in the summer of 1990.
Since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, the Air Force has flown more than one million missions, Gates said, including troop and cargo airlifts, medical evacuations and close-air support, as well as tens of thousands of sorties flown over America’s skies to protect the homeland.
Air Force aircraft have transported thousands of troops and tons of supplies across Iraq, Gates said.
And, thousands of battlefield-based airmen are performing non-traditional tasks, Gates said, such as detainee operations, convoy security and explosive-ordnance disposal.
“The increased air missions and capabilities employed in Iraq, manned and unmanned, have been a decisive factor in the dramatic security turn-around we have seen over the past 18 months,” Gates said. “Put simply, without the Air Force’s contributions in the skies and on the ground, America’s war effort would simply grind to a halt.”
The Air Force is now at a key juncture, Gates said, as “it sees the current conflicts through to success, while preparing for challenges on and beyond the horizon.”
The Air Force’s current and future tasks, Gates said, include “restoring trust in the Air Force’s stewardship of the most-sensitive part of our arsenal – nuclear weapons and nuclear-related materials – modernizing the aging fighter and tanker fleets, protecting the ‘global commons’ of the 21st century – space and cyber space – and making the most-effective use of air power in counterinsurgency operations, while maintaining strategic deterrence and technological superiority as a hedge against rising powers.”
Gates and Donley were joined by Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England; the ceremony’s host, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz; and other senior civilian and military officials.
Donley had served as the director of administration and management for the Defense Department, where he was responsible for Washington Headquarters Services, a 1,300-employee agency that oversees management of the Pentagon and DoD services within the National Capitol Region.
Donley was also acting Secretary of the Air Force for seven months in 1993 and had served as that service’s top financial officer from 1989 to 1993. He also served on the National Security Council and was a professional staff member on the Senate Armed Services Committee in the early 1980s.
Donley served in the Army’s 18th Airborne Corps and 5th Special Forces Group from 1972 to 1975. He holds a master’s degree in international relations from the University of Southern California.