Meet the First Woman in the Military to Head Combatant Command for North America
Pending confirmation, Air Force Gen. Lori Robinson will become the first woman ever to head one of the nine combatant commands of the U.S. military. As the potential new commander of forces in North America, Robinson will be charged with the immense responsibility of defending the U.S. homeland.
Robinson testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services Thursday, fielding questions ranging from who she sees as the greatest threat to the U.S. to what she would do to strengthen alliances with U.S. neighbors as the head of U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM).
“Defense of the homeland is a sacred responsibility and the number 1 mission of the Department of Defense,” said Robinson.
Robinson explained she sees significant threats posed to the U.S. mainland by “home-grown” terrorism, cyber attacks and drug trafficking. She also noted Russia, Iran and North Korea are three major adversaries she intends to keep an eye on should she be confirmed.
One of Robinson’s first actions as head of NORTHCOM would be to solidify the U.S. alliance with Canada, and build relationships with Mexico and the Bahamas.
As part of her responsibility as head of NORTHCOM, Robinson would also be responsible for the North American Aerospace Defense Command, otherwise known as NORAD. NORAD became well-known during the Cold War as the organization in charge of protecting North American air space from Soviet intrusion. Should the Soviet Union have ever attempted to fire nuclear weapons at the U.S., NORAD would be the first line of defense.
With rising Russian aggression around U.S. air space, NORAD and NORTHCOM have both become increasingly important to U.S. security interests. Robinson believes her experience as the head of U.S. air forces in the Pacific will help her address the threat.
“In my experiences as the Pacific Air Forces commander and the air component for [U.S. Pacific Command Commander Navy Adm. Harry] Harris, 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,” said Robinson.
Robinson gained significant operational experience as a commander during the war in Iraq, where she was vice commander of the 405th Expeditionary Wing. She was responsible for over 2,000 airmen who operated bomber, reconnaissance and tanker aircraft. She is also a graduate of the prestigious U.S. Air Force Fighter Weapons School, hold two master’s degrees and has spent time as a fellow at both the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., and at Harvard University.
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