Andrew Hunter was sworn in Feb. 7 as the U.S. Air Force acquisition chief after the Senate approved his nomination by voice vote on Feb. 2.
“With his extensive background in defense, Andrew is ideally prepared for both the responsibilities of the office and to deliver meaningful military capabilities into the hands of our service members,” Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said in a Feb. 7 statement.
Hunter was Kendall’s chief of staff when Kendall served as DoD acquisition chief in 2012.
Hunter told senators last year that one of his top priorities is to reduce Air Force sustainment costs for the Lockheed Martin [LMT] F-35A fighter (Defense Daily, Oct. 5, 2021).
Two weeks ago, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) was considering scheduling roll call votes this month for Hunter and a small number of other DoD nominees placed on hold by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), who has wanted Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and Secretary of State Tony Blinken to resign over the handling of the Afghanistan withdrawal last August (Defense Daily, Jan. 19).
It is customary for the Senate to approve qualified nominees by unanimous consent, but Hawley’s hold meant that the Senate would have to conduct roll call votes on nominees in check. Hawley and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) had also placed holds on nominations of dozens of U.S. State Department officials and ambassadors.
Among the DoD nominees on hold were Hunter and Alex Wagner, who is to be assistant Air Force secretary for manpower and reserve affairs. The Senate’s Feb. 8 executive calendar suggests that the body could approve Wagner by unanimous consent this week.
SASC advanced the Hunter and Wagner nominations to the full Senate last Oct. 21 (Defense Daily, Oct. 22, 2021).
President Biden nominated Hunter last July 16.
Hunter served in a number of positions in Congress, including in the 1990s as the defense aide for then-Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.), as legislative director for then Rep. John Spratt (D-S.C.), and as a staff member of the Select Committee on U.S. National Security and Military/Commercial Concerns with the People’s Republic of China.
Most recently, Hunter directed the Defense-Industrial Initiatives Group at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), and, if confirmed, will follow in the footsteps of fellow CSIS alumna, Kathleen Hicks, who is serving as deputy defense secretary.
From 2011 to November 2014, Hunter served as a Pentagon senior executive, including as the director of the Joint Rapid Acquisition Cell in 2013, where he was charged with fielding solutions to urgent operational needs and leading the work of the Warfighter Senior Integration Group “to ensure timely action on critical issues of warfighter support,” per his CSIS biography.
In addition to his Air Force acquisition duties, Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks has designated Hunter as the acting undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment (A&S)–a role that Greg Kausner has filled since last August, DoD spokesman John Kirby said on Feb. 7.
“In this role, Andrew will be responsible for all matters pertaining to acquisition, contract administration, logistics, and material readiness, installations and environment, operational energy, chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, the acquisition workforce, and the defense industrial base,” Kirby said. “He will have a fairly big inbox.”
Kausner, a member of the Senior Executive Service (SES), served in both the Pentagon and the State Department; is a veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom; and has flown F-14A and F/A-18F strike fighters as a Navy Reservist, per his DoD biography.