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First US Woman to Lead Combatant Command


This undated U.S. Air Force photo shows Gen. Lori Robinson, the new commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), and U.S. Northern Command at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo.

This undated U.S. Air Force photo shows Gen. Lori Robinson, the new commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), and U.S. Northern Command at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo.


The first woman to lead one of the largest U.S. military commands officially began the job on Friday.

Air Force General Lori Robinson is the new head of the U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) and North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).

Robinson accepted her new duties during a ceremony at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She is replacing Navy Admiral Bill Gortney, who is retiring.

Robinson is the first woman to lead one of nine unified U.S. combatant commands. Each command operates under a single commander.

The NORTHCOM command includes the U.S. mainland, Alaska, Mexico, Canada, parts of the Caribbean Sea and surrounding waters.

NORTHCOM is mainly responsible for civilian support and homeland security while also supervising NORAD, according to the U.S. Defense Department. Both NORTHCOM and NORAD are responsible for protecting U.S. and North American airspace.

NORTHCOM was created after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks against the United States. The Defense Department says its job is to “deter, prevent and defeat threats and aggression aimed at the United States, its territories, and interests.”

Before Friday, Robinson commanded Pacific Air Forces, a Defense Department statement said. Pacific Air Forces is responsible for Air Force activities spread over half the world. It supports 46,000 Air Force members, serving mainly in Japan, Korea, Hawaii, Alaska and Guam.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter nominated Robinson to her new position in March. During her nomination hearing, she told a U.S. Senate committee that “defense of the homeland is a sacred responsibility and the No. 1 mission of the Department of Defense.”

She added that the United States currently “faces many challenging threats from within and abroad.” Among the threats she named were home-grown violent extremism, cyberattacks, and trafficking of drugs and other illegal products by international criminal organizations.

Robinson is one of only two female four-star generals in the Air Force, according to The Associated Press.

I’m Bryan Lynn.

This report was based on a story from VOANews. Bryan Lynn adapted the story for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

assume – v. to take or begin to have power over something

transfer – n. the act of moving something or someone to another place

combatant – n. person or nation engaged in fighting during a war

deter – v. to discourage someone from doing something

sacred – adj. regarded with great respect and reverence

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