U.S. Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson said in a letter to President Trump that she plans to resign from her post effective in late May. Wilson has been named as the sole finalist to be the next president of the University of Texas at El Paso, a position that the system’s regents will vote on after a state-required waiting period of 21 days. She said she will resign after getting the job.
“It has been a privilege to serve alongside our Airmen over the past two years and I am proud of the progress that we have made restoring our nation’s defense,” she wrote. “We have improved the readiness of the force; we have cut years out of acquisition schedules and gotten better prices through competition; we have repealed hundreds of superfluous regulations; and we have strengthened our ability to deter and dominate in space.”
It is space – in particular Trump’s desire to a create a space force – that Pentagon sources say produced tensions between Wilson and the White House, who saw her as delaying the process. At the same time, Wilson was seen at one point as a contender to fill the role of secretary of defense. Patrick Shanahan, now the acting secretary of defense, has been more openly supportive of the idea of a space force.
In a memo last September, Wilson said creating a space force would cost about $13 billion over five years. “The costs here are additive costs,” she told Defense News. “To stand up a department that’s responsible for recruiting and training and planning and programming and budgeting and all of the leadership requirements that a department has, it’s a major undertaking. It’s a bold idea.”