The official portrait of former Secretary of the Air Force Barbara M. Barrett, who also previously served as the U.S. ambassador to Finland, was unveiled in the Pentagon Auditorium, May 13, during a tribute to the stateswomen who led the Department of the Air Force from 2019 to 2021.
Current Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall, who hosted the event, touched on Barrett’s legacy of guiding the Department of the Air Force through numerous challenges and achievements.
“In addition to starting a whole new service, which is a full-time job by itself, Ambassador Barrett led numerous modernization efforts during her tenure,” Kendall said, who later directly addressed his predecessor. “I hope that you can see how your work increased the capabilities of the Air and Space Forces even after you left the office. I now see enormous positive changes throughout the force.
“Through your priorities, you advanced the Department of the Air Force, enabled the modernization for the future of the force, and focused on enduring capabilities that will contribute to integrated deterrence for many years to come,” he added.
During the unveiling, Barrett reflected on her term in the office and the critical need to stand up the Space Force.
“Space operations were under the Air Force for decades but by establishing a dedicated branch, Congress gave space an independent staff, budget and strategy,” Barrett said. “Space is a new frontier, and we must be ready to defend our assets and our people in space.”
She also spoke on several of her priorities during her term, one of which was caring for Airmen, Guardians and their families.
“Caring and investing in our people was a top priority,” Barrett said. “We modernized the promotion process to move the best talent up the chain of command and sharpened our focus on education training and character development.
“It also included caring for our [Department of the] Air Force families by improving their health care, education and housing,” she added.
She concluded with a note to the Airmen and Guardians of the Department of the Air Force.
“It’s been an honor. My hope is that this portrait will serve as a small reminder of my admiration, my respect and my continued dedication to the men and women of the United States Air and Space Forces,” Barrett said. “May they continue to aim high; fly, fight and win. Semper Supra.”
Prior to being confirmed as the 25th secretary of the Air Force in October 2019, Barrett held numerous high-level leadership roles in government and the private sector including as the U.S. Ambassador to Finland, deputy administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, and vice chairman of the U.S. Civil Aeronautics Board.