WASHINGTON — For the first time ever, a woman has been tapped to
head a US military combatant command, one of the most senior
jobs in the armed services.
Gen. Lori Robinson, who has long been a rising star in the Air
Force, will take the helm of US Northern Command, Secretary of
Defense Ash Carter announced Friday, praising her “very deep
operational” and management experience.
General Robinson is currently the head of US air forces in the
Combatant command jobs are among the most prestigious in the US
military, overseeing one of six regions. US Central Command, for
example, based out of Tampa, Fla., is responsible for running US
military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria.
Obama’s plan to nominate Robinson – a nomination that is subject
to Senate confirmation—shows “that we have, coming along now, a
lot of female officers who are exceptionally strong,” Carter
said Friday at a Politico event. “And Lori certainly fits into
Robinson's nomination comes at a critical moment. In January,
the Pentagon officially opened all combat jobs to women, and all
branches of the military are working to more fully integrate
women into their ranks. Female service members who advocated for
the change praised both Robinson’s nomination and the Air Force.
“As soon as I heard that a woman had been selected, I
immediately guessed that she must be an Air Force officer,” says
retired Army Col. Ellen Haring, a West Point graduate who is now
a senior fellow at Women in International Security.
Since Air Force combat jobs involve planes, rather than ground
fighting, there were fewer concerns about women’s physical
strength. It first ?openedits premier? combat job ?– fighter
pilot – to women in 1993, ?more than 20 years ago. As a result,
the Air Force is substantially ahead when it comes to having
women officers with enough experience to qualify for such senior
positions, Haring says.