Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced Friday that Gen. Lori Robinson will be nominated to serve as the next commander of US Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command. If confirmed, she will become the first woman to head a US combatant command. Robinson, who currently serves as commander of Pacific Air Forces, would replace Adm. Bill Gortney, who has led the command since December 2014. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Robinson “has very deep operational experience” and is now “running air forces in the Pacific, which is a very challenging place for the Air Force and a very intense operational tempo.” In a statement released Friday, Carter said Robinson “has served our military with distinction and has been a pioneer and trailblazer from her first days as an officer.”
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.