WASHINGTON (airforcetimes): Frank Kendall, then undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, addresses guests during the United Kingdom F-35 delivery ceremony in July 2012 at Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, Texas. (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
The Senate Armed Services Committee plans to hold a joint confirmation hearing May 25 to vet President Joe Biden’s nominees for Air Force secretary and two other key Pentagon posts.
Frank Kendall, the Pentagon’s former acquisition boss who also spent time in industry, is up for the secretary job overseeing the Air Force and Space Force. Heidi Shyu, previously the Army’s top acquisition official and a Raytheon alum, is under consideration to become undersecretary of defense for research and engineering. And Susanna Blume, who ran the Center for a New American Security’s defense program, is nominated to direct the Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation office.
Together, the three will be important players in a department eager to modernize its force to combat current and future threats while also facing pandemic-era budget constraints.
A group on Pentagon nominees have experience dealing with the Pentagon’s acquisition system and extensive knowledge from industry, but they also have the scars from programs gone wrong and occasionally tense relationships with lawmakers.
In many cases, Biden has opted to bring familiar faces back to the Pentagon or move currently serving officials into new roles. This trio of nominees will likely have an easier path to confirmation than Colin Kahl, the undersecretary of defense for policy, who was confirmed in a 49-45 party-line vote last month.
Senators have held confirmation hearings for eight Defense Department leaders so far this year, including one other service secretary and three other undersecretaries of defense. SASC is working through its roster of Pentagon nominees awaiting approval while the annual defense policy and spending bills lag behind.
In a Thursday voice vote, the Democrat-led committee advanced two nominees for consideration by the full Senate: Mike McCord to be Pentagon comptroller, and Ron Moultrie to be undersecretary of defense for intelligence and security.
Biden’s other picks who have already earned Senate approval include Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin; Deputy Defense Secretary Kath Hicks; and U.S. Indo-Pacific Command boss Adm. John Aquilino.