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President Obama on Thursday announced his intent to nominate Deborah James, an industry executive and former assistant secretary of defense, to be the next Air Force Secretary. "Deborah's strong record of public service and leadership in the private sector makes her uniquely qualified to be my nominee," said the President on Aug 1. "I look forward to working with her to keep our Air Force the very best in the world and to keep faith with our extraordinary Air Force personnel and their families," he said. If the Senate confirms her forthcoming nomination, she would become the 23rd Air Force Secretary, leading the service at a time when it faces severe readiness shortfalls and modernization challenges, and strives to eliminate sexual misconduct from its ranks. She would fill the void created with the departure of Michael Donley in June. Air Force Undersecretary Eric Fanning has been serving in the interim as Acting Secretary. James would be the second woman to lead the Air Force, following Sheila Windall, who led from 1993-97. "Deborah is an outstanding leader with deep experience in the Department of Defense, the private sector, and non-profit organizations that support the men and women of our armed services," said Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in a statement. James is currently president of SAIC's technical and engineering sector in McLean, Va. She worked for a decade as a professional staff member on the House Armed Services Committee, followed by five years overseeing reserve affairs in the Pentagon, according to her biography. She currently serves on the Pentagon's advisory committee on women in the services. (Obama statement)