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Gen. Lori Robinson Confirmed as First Female to Lead Combatant Command



The Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) approved on April 26 the nomination of Air Force Gen. Lori Robinson to become the first female to head a combatant command.

“Defense of the homeland is a sacred responsibility and the No. 1 mission of the Department of Defense,” Robinson told the SASC April 21 during her nomination hearing to command U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) and the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD.

Robinson currently is in charge of Pacific Air Forces, headquartered at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, which is the air component of U.S. Pacific Command. There are nine unified combatant commands.

NORTHCOM has the responsibility of defending the U.S. homeland, with an area of operations including Canada, Mexico, the Bahamas, and Puerto Rico. NORAD is a U.S. and Canada bi-national organization charged with aerospace warning and aerospace control for North America.

“Our country faces many challenging threats from within and abroad, ranging from threats such as home-grown violent extremist, cyberattacks [and] trafficking of drugs and other illicit products by transnational criminal organizations – two threats posed by nation states such as Russia, North Korea and Iran,” Robinson told the SASC.

“In my experiences as the Pacific Air Forces commander and the air component for [U.S. Pacific Command Commander Navy Adm. Harry] Harris,” Robinson said, “I’m intimately aware of the tenuous situation on the [Korean] peninsula and throughout the region, and understand the potential threats posed to the security of our homeland.”

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced her nomination March 18. Carter noted her breadth of experience in leadership roles.

“Her deep operational experience,” Carter said, “will enable the men and women of NORAD and NORTHCOM [to] continue building upon the excellence they have demonstrated under [current commander] Adm. William Gortney’s strong and steady leadership in this critical command.”

Her nomination now goes to the full Senate for approval.

Robinson began her Air Force career in 1982 through the ROTC program at the University of New Hampshire. She received her fourth star in October 2014.