Joe Biden names two high-ranking women generals to lead US military commands

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  • Two high-ranking women were nominated to lead US military commands and would become only the second and third women to hold such positions.
  • US Air Force General Jacqueline Van Ovost is a four-star general, and Laura Richardson a three-star army general who is on track to receive her fourth.
  • They will follow in the footsteps of Lori Robinson, who was the first woman to helm a military command. She retired in 2018.

Washington – President Joe Biden on Monday announced the nomination of two women to lead US military commands, who will be only the second and third women to hold such senior military positions in the United States.

US Air Force General Jacqueline Van Ovost, the only woman to have reached the rank of four-star general, the military's highest, was nominated to head Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM).

Three-star army general Laura Richardson was nominated to lead Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), which covers Central and Latin America. She will also receive her fourth star.

Biden flanked by Laura Richardson and Jacqueline V
US President Joe Biden speaks, flanked by the nominees to positions as 4-star Combatant Commanders, General Jacqueline Van Ovost (L) and Lieutenant General Laura Richardson (R) in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC on 8 March 2021.

If the Senate confirms their nominations, then Van Ovost and Richardson will follow Lori Robinson, who was the first woman to helm a military command. She led Northern Command (NORTHCOM) before retiring in 2018.

'Incomparable skill'

"Each of these women have led careers demonstrating incomparable skill, integrity and duty to country," Biden said while presenting the two generals during a short speech at the White House.

"Today is International Women's Day, and we all need to see and to recognise the barrier-breaking accomplishments of these women," he added.

The US military has 11 commands, all led by four-star generals.

Last month, The New York Times reported that the Pentagon had decided on Van Ovost and Richardson's nominations as early as last year.

But, according to the Times, the announcement was delayed until after the November presidential election because former defence secretary Mark Esper feared then-president Donald Trump would not approve the generals' nomination due to their gender.


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