Female General Becomes First Woman to Lead US Military Combat Command

She's also been named one of Time's Most Influential People of 2016.

May 13, 2016, 1:08 PM
PHOTO:Gen. Lori Robinson, the commander of the Pacific Air Forces, talks to reporters, March 8, 2016, at the U.S. Embassy in Canberra, Australia.
Gen. Lori Robinson, the commander of the Pacific Air Forces, talks to reporters, March 8, 2016, at the U.S. Embassy in Canberra, Australia.
Rod McGuirk/AP Photo

— -- Gen. Lori Robinson made history today by becoming the first woman to lead a U.S. military combatant command.

She will lead U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM), which heads homeland defense efforts for the Pentagon and coordinates defense support of civil authorities, as well as the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), which conducts aerospace warning, aerospace control, and maritime warning in the defense of North America.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, attended the change of command ceremony at NORTHCOM headquarters in Colorado.

"I recommended Gen. Robinson to the president because she has a remarkable and complete set of proven experience: her strength as a strategic thinker and manager, which I saw first-hand during her time in the Pentagon when I worked with her closely; her political-military experience, most recently in the critical Asia-Pacific region; and her ability to lead and command in high-tempo operational environments, while putting her people first in every assignment," Carter said at the ceremony.

Gen. Robinson was nominated by President Obama in March and was approved by the Senate in late April.

Prior to leading NORTHCOM, she was the commander of Pacific Air Forces, an air component commander for U.S. Pacific Command and executive director of Pacific Air Combat Operations staff at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii.

Time magazine marked her historic appointment by naming her one of its 100 Most Influential People of 2016.

Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Illinois) praised Robinson's appointment.

"In the military, a combatant command is the ultimate job. It’s the pointy tip of the spear, overseeing the people carrying the rifles and flying the aircraft. Northern Command, created the year after the 9/11 attacks, is also prestigious because it protects our homeland. That is such a tremendous commentary on where we are as a nation," Duckworth said. "For years, women were barred from combat roles, closing off their route to the senior leadership. General Robinson’s appointment makes clear to every female lieutenant that the top jobs are now open to them."

Robinson entered the Air Force in 1982 through the ROTC program at the University of New Hampshire.

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