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Deborah Lee James
23rd United States Secretary of the Air Force
Assumed office
December 20, 2013
President Barack Obama
Preceded by Eric Fanning (Acting)
Personal details
Born November 25, 1958(1958-11-25) (age 64)
Long Branch, New Jersey, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Alma mater Duke University
Columbia University

Deborah Roche Lee James (born November 25, 1958) is the 23rd Secretary of the Air Force. James has 30 years of senior homeland and national security experience in the U.S. federal government and the private sector. Prior to be named Secretary of the Air Force, she served as President of Science Applications International Corporation's Technical and Engineering Sector, where she was responsible for 8,700 employees and more than $2 billion in revenue. James is the second woman (after Sheila Widnall 1993-1997) appointed to be the Secretary of the Air Force.

Early life

James was born in New Jersey in 1958.[1] She earned her B.A. (1979) in Comparative Area Studies from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. She later earned her Masters Degree (1981) in International Affairs from Columbia University in New York City.

Secretary of the Air Force

James' first days in office saw her dealing with a service that was reeling from the impact of Budget sequestration in 2013, continued troubles with the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, and a drug and cheating scandal with the LGM-30 Minuteman force.[2][3][4] James has cited USAF inattention to the nuclear mission, to the point of using a simple test score as "a top differentiator, if not the sole differentiator on who gets promoted."[5] In January and again in July, James visited the three Air Force bases that operate intercontinental ballistic missiles, or ICBMs, with a determination to work with both Airmen and other senior Air Force leaders to provide fixes to the challenges faced.[6] In 2014, she said that she expected the Force to downsize, but "remain highly capable and on the cutting edge of technology."[7][8][9] To do so, she and Chief of Staff of the Air Force General Mark A. Welsh III rolled out a strategic framework for the future of the service. A Call To the Future articulates where the U.S. Air Force wants to be in the future.[10] [11]


  2. Babbin, Jed (3 February 2014). "Debbie Does USAF". The American Spectator. Retrieved 3 February 2014. 
  3. "More nuke officers implicated in test cheating scandal". CBS Interactive Inc.. January 30, 2014. Retrieved 3 February 2014. 
  4. Helene Cooper, NY Times, "For New Air Force Secretary, a Baptism by Fire"
  5. Kori Schake, Foreign Policy, "Finally, The Leader The Air Force Deserves Has Arrived"
  6. BURNS, BOB (14 July 2014). "Air Force's James aimed 'deep' at nuke corps ills". Associated Press. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
  7. MEHTA, AARON (3 February 2014). "USAF Leaders Hint at Platforms, Personnel Cuts". Gannett Government Media. Retrieved 7 February 2014. 
  8. Robert Siegel,, Discipline Promised for the Dozens of Cheating Missileers, 31 Mar 14
  9. Senior Airman Alexander Riedel, Air Force News, Trial by fire, SecAF marks first 100 days in office, 22 Apr 14
  10. FREEDBERG JR., SYDNEY J. (30 July 2014). "Air Force To Focus on High-Threat Future, If Congress Lets It: James & Welsh". Breaking Media, Inc.. Retrieved 30 July 2014. 
  11. "An Interview with The Honorable Deborah Lee James, Secretary of the Air Force". Air University. Retrieved 3 June 2014. 

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Eric Fanning
United States Secretary of the Air Force

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