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Air Force Sec. Barbara Barrett resigning before Biden inauguration

U.S. Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett. (U.S. Air Force photo by Wayne Clark)
January 13, 2021

U.S. Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett, the service’s top civilian leader, and five other Air Force leaders are set to leave their posts on Thursday, according to a farewell ceremony announcement.

On Wednesday, the Air Force posted an announcement for Barrett’s farewell ceremony, scheduled to take place Thursday at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington D.C.

While service secretaries typically resign or offer to leave their posts at the start of a new presidential administrations, Barrett’s departure comes about a week before President-elect Joe Biden is set to be inaugurated.

Defense News reporter Aaron Mehta noted that Robert O. Work, the deputy secretary of defense under the Obama administration, attended his own retirement ceremony, before ultimately agreeing to stay on in an acting capacity at the start of the Trump administration.

Mehta tweeted, “Worth remembering on this: Bob Work had a retirement ceremony scheduled, which he attended … after it had already come out he would be held over by the Trump Pentagon. So this isn’t a hard sign these officials aren’t being kept on.”

It remains unclear if other service secretaries plan to retire before Biden is inaugurated, and if the Biden administration will try to retain any of them.

Defense News reported in December that the Biden transition team was considering retaining Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy. His potential to carry on into the next administration may be less likely now after he faced criticism of a slow National Guard response to the incidents at the Capitol last week.

In addition to Barrett stepping down, other top Air Force civilian officials are also departing, including Acting Under Secretary of the Air Force Shon J. Manasco, Air Force Comptroller John P. Roth, Air Force General Counsel Thomas E. Ayres, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Dr. William Roper, and Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Environment and Energy John W. Henderson.

Air Force Magazine reported, Manasco, had been nominated to serve as the Air Force undersecretary but his nomination sat unmoving for months in the U.S. Senate and on Dec. 30, Trump withdrew his nomination.

Roper has served as the Air Force’s Assistant Secretary for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics. His job entailed overseeing the development and implementation of new technologies for the service.

Roth has served as a comptroller for the Air Force, overseeing the service’s budgets.

Ayres has served as the Air Force’s General Counsel and previously served as the service’s Chief Ethics Official and Chief Legal Officer.

Henderson has served as the Air Force’s Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations. His job entailed managing Air Force installations and overseeing the handling of environmental and maintenance requests for the bases.