Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley said Friday he will leave his post in June after serving in that job longer than any other secretary since the post was created in 1947.
Although there was no indication Friday who President Barack Obama will nominate as Donley’s replacement, the next secretary will assume office as the Pentagon has come under intense pressure to curb its budget.
“Secretary Donley took over leadership of the Air Force during a difficult time and led the Air Force very well during his term,’’ said Michael Gessel, vice president of the Dayton Development Coalition’s Washington office.
“With a change at the top, there is always a question about the new directions the Air Force may take,’’ said Gessel, warning that the “next secretary will make very difficult budget decisions that will have an impact on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and other defense installations in Ohio.’’
Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, called Donley “a strong advocate and fierce fighter for our men and women in uniform, adding that he plans “to work closely with his successor to protect critical missions and jobs at Ohio’s Air Force installations.’’
In a statement, Donley said “it’s been an honor and privilege’’ to serve as secretary of the Air Force. Former President George W. Bush nominated Donley for the post in 2008.
In 2009, Donley supported then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’ decision to limit production of the advanced stealth F-22 fighter jet to 187 planes.
In an opinion piece in the Washington Post that Donley co-authored in 2009, he described the F-22 as “unquestionably, the most capable fighter in our military inventory.’’
But Donley wrote that “buying more F-22s means doing less of something else,’’ adding that the time had come for the Air Force to “make the transition from F-22’’ to production of the Lockheed Martin F-35 joint strike fighter.