Barbara Barrett is the 25th Secretary of the Air Force and is responsible for the affairs of the Department of the Air Force, including organizing, training, equipping and providing for the welfare of 685,000 active duty, Guard, Reserve and civilian Airmen and their families. She also oversees the Air Force’s annual budget of more than $205 billion.
I grew up on a farm. I ended up being the sole source of income. I learned early on that you just work to get the job done. You pursue until you accomplish the mission. You know, growing up, we didn’t have much money. Money was always in short supply. I kept a tobacco can that was my bank. I put money in that bank and if anybody asked me what that was for, I was saving it to go to college. In my life, education was the ticket to capability or ticket to opportunity and so I got a bachelor’s degree and then I went to night school to get a master’s degree. I had to work five jobs at a time to get through, to pay for this, but I got the education and that has been the doorway to opportunity. I would certainly not be here today if it weren’t for the education that I had to scrimp, I had to work extra hard, but it was all for good value and good benefit. As a young person my dad took us on a little four-seater airplane flight. I think more because he wanted to be in the airplane and we were his cover but we went for a flight probably I was six or so years old and flew out of a, the hanger, was a barn and a grass strip and we flew around Southwestern Pennsylvania. Since then I’ve had the privilege of getting a pilot’s license. So, I got my instrument rating from the Lufthansa pilot training facility. I had just finished serving as Ambassador so I actually had a relatively clean slate when they came to me and asked if I’d be willing to do it. They had someone who was the primary candidate. I was the back up. And I have thought the backup’s job is to make number one successful. I went about it with the aspiration to help the number one be successful and he was. One of the things I’d like to do is continue that legacy that Secretary Heather Wilson had of getting regulations out of the way. There are a lot of things where we’re told how to do things that good judgment would get us to the same conclusion. If good judgment and intuition would get us to the right place, we probably don’t need reams of paper to tell us how to do exactly the same thing. I also know that every airmen when they raise their hand and swear to defend the country and the constitution that they are making a bigger commitment than I am and my job will be give them the tools give them the resources give them the support and get out of the way.