US Army Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland, commander of US forces in Iraq and Syria, and US Air Force Gen. Lori Robinson, the first woman named to head a combatant command, have been listed by Time magazine as among the 100 most influential people worldwide.
Time put MacFarland and Robinson in the "Leaders" category of the most influential 100 that also included Pioneers, Titans, Artists and Icons.
Other leaders listed along with MacFarland and Robinson included North Korea's Kim Jong Un, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and politicians Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Paul Ryan and Bernie Sanders.
Those who know MacFarland best described him as a selfless leader who deflects praise onto those in his command. Col. Christopher C. LaNeve, who served under MacFarland at Fort Bliss, Texas, told the El Paso Times that, "In over 20-plus years of my service, Lt. Gen. MacFarland is one of the most tactically proficient and caring leaders I have ever served with."
In a glowing tribute to MacFarland, now commander of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve with headquarters in Baghdad, Sen. John McCain said, "Through 15 years of war, our nation has been blessed with leaders who stepped forward -- leaders like David Petraeus, Stanley McChrystal, James Mattis and Ray Odierno. Sean MacFarland belongs in such distinguished company."
"I first met then-Col. MacFarland in Ramadi in December 2006. Iraq was in the grip of a seemingly intractable sectarian conflict. But MacFarland had the courage to adapt and innovate. His support of the Anbar Awakening was the model for the successful surge strategy that broke the back of al-Qaida in Iraq," McCain said.
"I can think of no better commander than MacFarland to lead US and coalition forces in destroying the Islamic State," said McCain, an Arizona Republican and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
The Time list came out just as Robinson was wrapping up the Senate Armed Services Committee confirmation hearing on her nomination by President Obama to lead US Northern Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command. She appeared headed to swift confirmation as the first woman to lead a combatant command.
In a tribute to Robinson for Time, Rep. Tammy Duckworth, an Illinois Democrat who was severely wounded as an Army helicopter pilot in Iraq, said, "When I joined the US Army Reserve in 1992, there were no female four-star generals."
"In the military, a combatant command is the ultimate job. It's the pointy tip of the spear, overseeing the people carrying the rifles and flying the aircraft," Duckworth said.
"For years, women were barred from combat roles, closing off their route to the senior leadership. Gen. Robinson's appointment makes clear to every female lieutenant that the top jobs are now open to them," Duckworth said.
-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.