WASHINGTON – Under Secretary of the Air Force nominee Gina Ortiz Jones testified before members of the Senate Armed Services Committee June 16.
Nominated by President Biden in April, if confirmed, she will assume the position of Under Secretary and Chief Management Officer of the Department of the Air Force - duties currently performed by Anthony Reardon, a member of the Senior Executive Service and the Administrative Assistant to the Secretary of the Air Force.
Jones remarked in her opening statement that the Department of the Air Force is at the forefront of our nation’s ability to meet the challenges presented around the world.
“If confirmed, I will work with the Department of the Air Force leaders to ensure the Total Force is ready to deter, and if needed, win our nation’s wars,” Jones said. “Strategic competition requires we fully harness the Total Force’s talents and courageously invest in modernization efforts that best equip our men and women for the threats they will face.”
Jones also stated that if confirmed, she would work closely with the Secretary of the Air Force to evaluate the progress being made to stand up the U.S. Space Force and execute the direction from Congress. Additionally, she spoke to a focus on space acquisition and the competition the U.S. faces with China and Russia’s capabilities in that domain.
“The Department (of the Air Force) must deliver space acquisitions both cheaper and faster to outpace our adversaries, and we must take advantage of the rapidly emerging and innovative commercial space capabilities, collaborating closely with allies and other government partners,” Jones stated. “We can expect that China and Russia will continue to invest in capabilities critical to modern warfare to include the space domain.”
Most recently a congressional candidate in Texas, Jones has a history of service with the Department of the Defense and U.S. Air Force. Jones joined the U.S. Air Force in 2003. Serving for four years, she reached the rank of captain while working as an intelligence officer deployed to Iraq, supporting close air support missions. After leaving active service, she returned to work as an intelligence analyst for U.S. Africa Command, and later joined the Defense Intelligence Agency.
In her opening remarks, Jones spoke to her time in service and the hindrance of serving under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
“I remain undeterred because of my desire to serve our country,” Jones said. “That experience cemented my resolve to ensure anyone ready and able to serve can do so to their full potential, and our country’s fullest potential. If confirmed, that tenet will guide my service. That is what our Airmen and Guardians deserve.”
She also spoke of her mother, who immigrated from the Philippines and raised Jones and her sister on her own. Her inspiration to serve was inspired by her uncle, who enlisted in the U.S. Navy and became the first Filipino to serve as a gas turbine electrician.
The position of the Under Secretary of the Air Force is responsible for the affairs of the Department of the Air Force which include organizing, training, equipping and providing for the welfare of nearly 700,000 active duty, guard, reserve and civilian Airmen, Guardians and their families worldwide.