John Roth became the acting secretary of the Air Force Wednesday as part of the presidential transition process.

Roth, who had been performing the duties of undersecretary of the Air Force and previously served as the service’s comptroller and assistant secretary for financial management, will remain the service’s top civilian leader until President Biden’s Air Force secretary nominee is confirmed by the Senate. Biden has not yet announced his pick.

“It is a privilege to serve airmen and [Space Force] guardians as the acting secretary of the Air Force,” Roth said in a Wednesday release. “Protecting the nation is a solemn responsibility, one that the U.S. Air and Space Forces execute daily without fail. I look forward to working side-by-side with [Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles “CQ”] Brown and [Chief of Space Operations Gen. Jay] Raymond to ensure our airmen and guardians have the training and resources required to meet national security requirements and keep America safe.”

Roth succeeds Barbara Barrett, the 25th secretary of the Air Force, who walked out of the Pentagon for the final time Tuesday to the traditional clap-out for high-ranking officials.

In his statement, Roth praised Barrett for her work as secretary, which began in October 2019.

“I’m eager to continue the momentum Sec. Barrett and these two great military leaders put into motion as we work together to accelerate change for our Air Force and continue building America’s Space Force,” Roth said.

In a video posted Wednesday, Barrett thanked and praised the members of the Air Force and Space Force, and said serving with them “has been the highest privilege of my career.”

“Your ceaseless vigilance keeps America safe and fulfills the Air and Space Force’s responsibility to meet the national defense strategy,” Barrett said. “It has been a joy to work alongside you. I wish you the best in your professional and personal futures. Aim high, semper supra, and thank you.”

Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.

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