Heinrich Questions Air Force Secretary Nominee Heather Wilson
WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 30, 2017) — Today, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M), questioned Secretary of the Air Force nominee Heather Wilson during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.
During the hearing, Senator Heinrich emphasized the important role that New Mexico's installations play in the Air Force. Senator Heinrich pressed Wilson on growing and retaining pilot and maintainer forces by highlighting New Mexico's Holloman Air Force Base, which is leading the nation in addressing the Air Force's fighter pilot shortage. He also questioned Wilson on how she would prioritize rapid prototyping of directed energy weapon systems to improve warfighter capabilities. Finally, he asked about the importance of civilians in the Air Force and raised concerns about the negative impact that President Trump's hiring freeze is having on Air Force equities like the Air Force Research Laboratory in Albuquerque where there is a significant number of vacancies for civilian positions that carry out critical missions for the military.
Earlier this year, Senator Heinrich welcomed Heather Wilson's nomination stating, "Heather Wilson's distinguished service in the Air Force, experience working on the National Security Council, and her firsthand knowledge of New Mexico's Air Force installations would offer a unique and valuable perspective at the Pentagon. The Air Force is countering a number of threats including North Korea, Russia, China, Iran, and terrorist organizations across several continents. The Air Force also faces challenges with its force structure such as an aging inventory of aircraft, a shortage of fighter pilots, an insatiable demand overseas for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and an increasingly competitive environment in space and cyberspace. I am proud that New Mexico's men and women in uniform are taking the lead in addressing these challenges."
In addition to the hearing, Senator Heinrich will be submitting several questions for the record. The questions include a request for Wilson's commitment as Secretary of the Air Force to continue addressing the fuel plume in Albuquerque and protect and clean-up the water supply; support for increased Air Force investment in research and development; support for the small satellite industry and a more responsive and resilient approach to space, including Operationally Responsive Space; and a request to further accelerate contracting authority, particularly as it applies to space systems, and encouraging the use of commercial-off-the-shelf technologies and industry talent.