First Female Combatant Commander Touts Options for Women in Military

Air Force Gen. Lori Robinson
Air Force Gen. Lori Robinson

Air Force Gen. Lori Robinson was a lone voice for the military at a White House-sponsored event on equal opportunity and expanding career choices for women.

Robinson cited the three women -- Capt. Kristen Griest, Capt. Shaye Haver and Maj. Lisa Jaster -- who recently passed the grueling Army Ranger course as examples for young women who might not have previously considered the military an equal opportunity employer.

The changes in the rules last year lifting restrictions against women in combat positions now means "that your dreams can actually come true," Robinson told the White House United State of Women Summit at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., Tuesday.

"All jobs in the military are now open to women," said Robinson, who was the only featured speaker from the military at the day-long event kicked off by Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to President Obama and head of the White House Council on Women and Girls.

Robinson cited herself as an example of the need for women to be more aggressive in pursuing opportunities. She said her father, an Air Force pilot in Vietnam, had to coax her into entering the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) when she didn’t think she could make the grade.

Earlier this year, Robinson became the first woman to lead a combatant command when Obama named her to take command of U.S. Northern Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).

Earlier, First Lady Michelle Obama spoke of her efforts through the Joining Forces initiative to get jobs for vets and improve the lives of military families, but she spoke more of how military families had inspired her and her husband.

In a question and answer session with Oprah Winfrey, Mrs. Obama said "We are energized by the people we meet, by the military spouses that I meet out there."

"I picked working with military families because they moved me. I met them out on the campaign trail and I didn’t know that there were millions of military families out there serving and sacrificing in ways that we take for granted in this country.  And I vowed then and there, just from meeting them, that if I got to be First Lady I would try to be that voice for them," Mrs. Obama said.

--Richard Sisk can be reached at

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