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UNH Alumna 1st ever female nominated in Department of Defense to serve as a combatant commander

UNH alumna Lori Robinson ‘81 has been selected to be the first ever female combatant commander in U.S. Air Force history.
UNH alumna Lori Robinson ‘81 is the first ever female nominated in the Department of Defense to serve as a combatant commander.

Before Gen. Lori Robinson was breaking barriers by being named as the first female combatant commander (pending senate confirmation) by President Obama, she was studying for her classes like any other Wildcat.

According to Gen. Robinson’s official U.S. Air Force biography, she graduated from UNH with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English in 1981.

“We are very proud that the first female [combatant] commander selected to lead U.S. Northern Command in its defense of America’s homeland is our very own fellow Wildcat, Gen. Lori Robinson,” said Mark W. Huddleston, president of UNH. “We’re honored to see her recognized by the president of the United States. She is a great inspiration to us all.”

After completing UNH’s Air Force Reserve Officers Training Corps in May 1981, and earning the rank of Second Lieutenant, Robinson entered the Operational Air Force in 1982. She then continued her military education by completing the Basic Air Weapons Controller School at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida.

“She’s is a trailblazer…for her to be the first female four-star to command a combatant command takes on a bigger meaning,” said Lt. Col. Thomas Lee, commander of AFROTC Detachment 475-UNH. “As our Air Force continues to lead the way on diversity initiatives, General Robinson’s success is very important to our Air Force and especially for women and minority Airmen.”

Zais Hall is not only home to both Army and Air Force ROTC for the university, but also houses the UNH’s ROTC Hall of Fame. Robinson was inducted into the hall of fame on Nov. 6, 2009. According to the UNH ROTC’s official webpage, “each inductee is honored with a glass etching, certificate, and plaque.”

“As a female in the Air Force, it’s incredible to have someone like her paving the way in such a male-dominated profession,” said Brie Belisle, a UNH student currently serving in the Air National Guard. “She is definitely someone I look up to.”

Robinson’s official Air Force biography lists many different positions as an air battle manager in the Air Force including deploying as the Vice Commander of a 405th Air Expeditionary Wing in Southwest Asia, Vice Commander of Air Combat Command at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, and Commander of Pacific Air Forces stationed out of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.

Gen. Robinson’s remarkable abilities as a commander and strategist have been proven over more than three decades of dedicated service to the U.S. Air Force,” said Secretary of Defense Ash Carter in a Department of Defense press release. “Her deep operational experience will enable the men and women of NORAD and NORTHCOM to continue building upon the excellence they have demonstrated under Adm. William Gortney’s strong and steady leadership in this critical command.”

Robinson has received many distinguished awards and decorations during her 34 years in the Air Force, including the Distinguished Service Medal with one oak leaf cluster, the Defense Superior Service Medal and the Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters.

“We, as a detachment, definitely follow her career and we have a great deal of pride that she is a Detachment 475 Screaming Eagle and UNH Wildcat,” Lee said.

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