PACAF Commander Tapped to Replace First Female Head of NORTHCOM

Then Lt. Gen. Terrence J. O'Shaughnessy salutes Gen. Lori Robinson, Pacific Air Forces commander, symbolically accepting command of Seventh Air Force during a change of command ceremony at Osan Air Base Dec 19, 2014. (U.S. Air Force photo/John Ross)
Then Lt. Gen. Terrence J. O'Shaughnessy salutes Gen. Lori Robinson, Pacific Air Forces commander, symbolically accepting command of Seventh Air Force during a change of command ceremony at Osan Air Base Dec 19, 2014. (U.S. Air Force photo/John Ross)

Pacific Air Forces commander Gen. Terrence J. O'Shaughnessy has been tapped to replace Gen. Lori Robinson as the new head of U.S. Northern Command, the Pentagon announced on Tuesday.

O'Shaughnessy, an experienced F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot with more than 3,000 hours in the aircraft, is set to replace Robinson, who has led the combatant command since 2016. Robinson is the highest-ranking female officer ever to lead a COCOM.

Robinson, also a former commander of PACAF, was recently profiled in TIME Magazine for her top-tier role in the military.

Before the Defense Department's announcement, O'Shaughnessy had been considered to lead U.S. Pacific Command, according to a report from Defense News. Instead, Adm. Phil Davidson, a career surface warfare officer, was nominated on Tuesday to replace PACOM commander Adm. Harry Harris. Harris could become the latest ambassador to Australia under the Trump administration, according to USNI News.

O'Shaughnessy would assume the NORTHCOM role following a a busy hurricane season in the states and Puerto Rico.

Additionally, O'Shaughnessy's move comes as the service mulls retiring the F-15C/D Eagle models, which mainly serve in the Air National Guard.

Last month, a portion of the Air National Guard's F-15C/D fleet at Kingsley Field, Oregon, was grounded over significant maintenance issues affecting the aircraft's structure.

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While the Kingsley Eagles have since returned to flight, officials told lawmakers last year they were looking at the possibility of retiring the two models as early as the mid-2020s.

The Guard's F-15s are used stateside to scramble in the event of an interception.

Air National Guard Director Lt. Gen. L. Scott Rice has said the Air Force as a total force was in "deep discussions" regarding the proposed retirement, and planned to further assess the F-15 inventory in 2018.

Rice and other Air Force officials said the F-16 Fighting Falcon would take over in the multi-mission role. The service has 212 F-15C and 24 F-15D models, according to the Air Force Association's 2017 aircraft inventory almanac.

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.

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