Tue May 9, 2017 01:23AM
Former US House Representative for New Mexico, Heather Wilson
Former US House Representative for New Mexico, Heather Wilson

The US Senate approves US President Donald Trump’s pick to run the country’s air force, marking the first of his military branch nominees to clear the upper chamber.

Former House Representative Heather Wilson was approved 76-22 Monday to serve as the next US Air Force secretary.

She was expected to get through the Senate easily as her confirmation needed a simple majority, in the hands of Republicans, while the Democrats chose not to drag the process for days.

"Wilson is a Rhodes scholar, Air Force Academy graduate, part of the third class ever to admit women, by the way, and a dedicated public servant who served several times in the US House," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said earlier. "I'm sure she will work hard in this new role to strengthen the branch of the military that she cares so much about."

Since he assumed office in January, Trump has been struggling to fill top military and Pentagon positions.

This AFP picture taken on April 25, 2017 shows a US F-35A Lightning II aircraft at Amari Air Base, Estonia.

His first army secretary nominee, Vincent Viola, and  navy secretary nominee Philip Bilden both withdrew  in February over their financial holdings.

His second pick for the army, Republican House Representative Mark Green also withdrew over disparaging remarks against US minorities, including Muslims,

Wilson served as the director for European defense policy and arms control in the National Security Council under administration of former President George H.W. Bush.

She is claimed to be the first Air Force Academy graduate to serve as Air Force secretary, according to a January statement by the White House.