The Pentagon announced May 15 that Air Force Undersecretary Matthew Donovan will become acting secretary effective June 1, following the resignation of current Secretary Heather Wilson.

Donovan was widely expected to take over leadership of the service after Wilson announced her planned resignation effective May 31 to become the president of the University of Texas at El Paso beginning in September (Defense Daily, March 8).

Under Secretary of the Air Force Matthew Donovan visits the 365th Training Squadron at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, Feb. 14, 2019. Donovan visited to see the new technology that will improve the training at Sheppard and reduce the amount of on-the-job training needed for heavy avionics technicians. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Pedro Tenorio)

“In her two years as secretary, Heather defined the Air Force the nation needs and made incredible progress in implementing the strategy to get us there,” Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan said in a Wednesday statement. “It is fitting that a key member of her leadership team will assume her role to keep the momentum going. Matt will do a fantastic job.”

Donovan is an Air Force veteran who enlisted in 1977 and received his commission through the Air Force Officer Training School in January 1982. He retired from active duty as a colonel in 2008. During his Air Force career, he commanded a fighter squadron, and was an Air Combat Command F-15C demonstration pilot. He is a graduate of the Air Force School of Advanced Airpower Studies and the Army Advanced Operational Art Studies Fellowship, and was a command pilot with more than 2,900 flight hours in the F-15C Eagle and F-5E Tiger II, including combat sorties during Operation Southern Watch.

Following his retirement from the Air Force, Donovan worked as a senior defense policy analyst for industry before returning to the service as a civilian from 2009 to 2015, ultimately becoming director of staff, Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Plans and Programs for the Air Force at the Pentagon.

He spent two years on Capitol Hill as a professional staff member for the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), managing all matters related to Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps fixed wing aircraft, manned and unmanned tactical aviation programs, and Air Force bomber, mobility and special mission aircraft, along with research and development, aircraft procurement and sustainment programs. He most recently served as Majority Policy Director for the Senate Armed Services Committee before becoming Air Force undersecretary in August 2017.