AIR FORCE GENERAL: First Female to Head a Top-Tier US Combat Command, But is She Qualified?

millitaryGen. Lori Robinson is being described as ‘the personification of a new generation of leaders’. Is this a smart step forward for the air force or not?

The Air Force has just two female four-star generals, and one is about to become the first woman to head a top-tier U.S. warfighting command, but that may not be the most remarkable thing about her.

Gen. Lori J. Robinson takes over the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command in Colorado on Friday. People who know Robinson describe her as the personification of a new generation of leaders, someone who understands the Air Force has a broad role in space, cyber security and drones, not just flying and fighting.

“Gen. Robinson reflects that change as much as anything else,” said Maria Carl, a retired Air Force colonel who serves on the Military Affairs Council of the Hawaii Chamber of Commerce. Carl didn’t serve under Robinson but worked with her in her Chamber of Commerce role, when the general headed the Pacific Air Forces at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

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“She has an ability to take all the different pieces of the picture and pull it together strategically,” Carl said.

Robinson wasn’t available for an interview before she officially started her new assignment at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs.

Her family has deep roots in the Air Force. Her husband, retired two-star Gen. David Robinson, was a pilot in the Thunderbirds demonstration team. David Robinson’s daughter, 2nd Lt. Taryn Ashley Robinson, graduated from the Air Force Academy in June 2005 but was fatally injured in a pilot-training crash that autumn. She died in January 2006, four weeks before her 23rd birthday.

Lori Robinson’s father, George Howard of Jackson, New Hampshire, was a 30-year Air Force veteran and a pilot in the Vietnam War.

“I have looked up to my father my entire life,” Robinson told senators at a confirmation hearing for her new job last month. He accompanied her to the hearing.


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