Ash Carter Names First Female Combatant Commander

Defense Secretary Ash Carter has named new commanders for U.S. Northern Command and U.S. Forces Korea to be confirmed by the Senate. If confirmed, the new Northcom chief will be the first woman to lead a U.S. combatant command.

Carter made the announcement during an interview by Politico journalists Mike Allen and Bryan Bender. President Barack Obama has approved both choices and will nominate them to the Senate, the secretary said.

Air Force Gen. Lori J. Robinson

Air Force Gen. Lori J. Robinson now commands Pacific Air Forces and is air component commander for U.S. Pacific Command.

She’s also executive director of the Pacific Air Combat Operations staff at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii.

Pacaf is responsible for Air Force activities spread over half the globe in a command that supports more than 46,000 airmen serving mainly in Japan, Korea, Hawaii, Alaska and Guam.

Robinson also is a senior air battle manager with more than 900 flight hours in the E-3B/C airborne warning and control system aircraft and the E-8C joint surveillance target attack radar system aircraft.

The general, Carter said, “has very deep operational experience, is now running the air forces in the Pacific, which is a very challenging place for the Air Force and a very intense operational tempo.”

Naming the first female combatant commander, Carter added, demonstrates “that we have coming along now a lot of female officers who are exceptionally strong. Lori certainly fits into that category.”

Army Gen. Vincent K. Brooks

Carter also has named Army Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, if confirmed by the Senate, to be commander of U.S. Forces Korea. Brooks now is commanding general of U.S. Army Pacific, Pacom’s Army component.

The command has administrative control over all U.S. Army forces in the Pacom area of responsibility and provides forces and performs theater security programs with 36 countries from the Asia-Pacific regions of Alaska, Japan and Korea.

Carter said U.S. Forces Korea “is part of U.S. Pacific Command, but is a major political military command, a place where we need our very best, and Vince is that, and also an officer with tremendous operational and managerial experience.”

Most recently, Carter added, Brooks “has been shepherding what the Army calls Pacific Pathways, the Army’s ingredient in the so-called rebalance to the Asia Pacific, which is our intention and determination to keep the pivotal role of American military power in the Asia-Pacific region going, because that is what’s brought peace and prosperity to that region for decades.”

The command is home-based at Fort Shafter, Hawaii, with portions of the command forward deployed throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

Carter called the Asia-Pacific “the single most consequential region of the world for America’s future.”

(Follow Cheryl Pellerin on Twitter: @PellerinDoDNews)

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