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Woman Nominated To Head A Combatant Command For First Time

Gen. Lori J. Robinson is the commander of Pacific Air Forces, which is responsible for Air Force activities in Japan, Korea, Hawaii, Alaska and Guam, among other areas.

Air Force Gen. Lori Robinson will be nominated as the next head of U.S. Northern Command, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced Friday. If approved, she would be the first female head of a combatant command.

The U.S. military divides the world into geographic regions that are each overseen by a four-star general or admiral directing military operations across the branches of service. None of those combatant commanders has ever been a woman.

Northern Command, or Northcom, is charged with defending the U.S. homeland. The current commander of NorthCom, Admiral Bill Gortney, is also the commander of the well-known North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD.

Robinson currently commands U.S. Air Forces in the Pacific. Her rise through the ranks has been rapid, Defense News reports: The general achieved her third star in 2013 and her fourth in 2014.

NPR's Tom Bowman described Robinson's career on the Two-Way last year, when word was circulating that President Obama was considering naming a woman to take over Northcom:

"Robinson was the first woman to lead a major Air Force component command, and served as a senior air battle manager aboard an E-3 Sentry airborne early warning aircraft and the E-8 JSTARS — essentially responsible for command and control of combat missions, as well as surveillance."

Robinson's nomination would need to be confirmed by the Senate.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: March 17, 2016 at 11:00 PM CDT
A previous version of this post incorrectly stated that NorthCom oversees NORAD. In fact, while the current commander of NorthCom is also the commander of NORAD, NorthCom itself does not oversee NORAD; NORAD is run in coordination between the United States and Canada.
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