First Woman Nominated to Head Pacific Air Forces

Image: First Woman Nominated to Head Pacific Air Forces Air Force Lt. Gen. Lori Robinson.

Friday, 18 Jul 2014 10:12 AM

By Melissa Clyne

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Air Force Lt. Gen. Lori Robinson has been nominated as the first female to lead the Pacific Air Forces, the Air Force component of U.S. Pacific Command located in Hawaii, according to The Washington Times.

The Pacific Air Forces oversee security via air, ground and naval forces in the Asia-Pacific region and is "a major combatant command,” according to the Times. Her nomination was sent to the Senate for confirmation.

The decision to place Robinson, a career air battle manager but who is not a pilot, has raised concerns with at least one retired pilot, who said there is a reason why the post has always gone to pilots.

"It is because you make operational decisions that require the understanding of what you are going to ask pilots to execute in combat where the wrong decisions mean the difference between life and death," said the pilot, who the Times did not identify by name. "Now her vice commander and director of operations will be rated fighter pilots, but still she makes the decisions."

According to Army Times, while Robinson is not a pilot she has more than 900 flight hours in the E-3 Sentry and E-8C Joint STAR.

Robinson’s promotion will include a fourth star, making her the Air Force’s second female four-star general, according to The Air Force Times, which said a "fundamental shift the service has gone through in the past six years by promoting non-fighter pilots into top command posts.”

If confirmed by the Senate, Robinson will replace current Pacific Air Forces commander Gen. Hawk Carlisle, a career F-15 pilot who has been nominated to be the next commander of Air Combat Command at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia.

For the past 14 months, Robinson has served as vice commander of the Air Combat Command at Langley and before that was deputy commander of U.S. Air Forces Central Command headquartered at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina, according to Army Times.

Robinson’s nomination is part of an effort by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to diversify the Pentagon, the publication reports. Women are also getting ready to serve in "direct land combat units."

Earlier this month the Navy promoted its first woman, Adm. Michelle Howard, to four-star rank. Howard took over as vice chief of naval operations.

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