May 2, 2019
Heather Wilson, Secretary of the US Air Force
Barbara Barrett, former US Ambassador to Finland
As part of the Condoleezza Rice Women Who Inspire Lecture Series, Secretary of the Air Force, Heather Wilson visited campus to discuss her experience serving in a leadership role in a predominantly male field.
Wilson shared an overview of behind-the-scenes structures and processes of the Air Force. At the core, its mission is to sustain air power at the forefront in order to protect the country. Its defense strategy is to deter and defeat adversaries while managing violent extremism, both in air and in space. Wilson stressed that the Air Force is much too small in size for what the nation is asking it to accomplish. She called for new investments in the Air Force to fulfill its national defense objectives.
Wilson explained the secretary’s role in organizing, equipping and training the forces. The biggest component of equipping is developing and buying the proper equipment and materials. She lauded the Air Force’s recent improvements to modernize and streamline its acquisition programs, making this military branch a highly prized partner of small businesses.
Barrett and Wilson shared thoughtful commentary on the importance of maintaining global alliances and addressing the gender gap in the US armed forces.