Sources say Lt. Gen. Lori Robinson, left, will succeed Gen. Herbert 'Hawk' Carlisle as head of Pacific Air Forces. Carlisle, right, will be nominated to take over Air Combat Command. (Air Force)
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WASHINGTON — The White House is expected to nominate Lt. Gen. Lori Robinson to head up Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) and receive a fourth star, making her the first female four-star commander of combat forces, sources say.
Gen. Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle, the current PACAF commander, is expected to be nominated to head Air Combat Command, replacing the retiring Gen. Michael Hostage.
Robinson — the vice commander at Air Combat Command and a career air-battle manager — would then take over for Carlisle at PACAF.
Robinson’s nomination would make her the second female four-star in the Air Force, assuming the PACAF billet is not downgraded from its traditional four-star level. It would also illustrate the fundamental shift the service has gone through in the past six years by promoting non-fighter pilots into top command posts.
One source called the nomination plan “as done a deal as can be,” but until nominations are officially announced, the White House can always change its decision.
Carlisle has commanded PACAF since August of 2012 and has overseen the service’s “rebalance” to the Pacific. He has focused heavily on strengthening alliances in the region to counterbalance the growing influence of China. There has been general consensus in the past few months that he would be a good choice to take over ACC.
The Army’s first female four-star, Gen. Ann Dunwoody, was named head of US Army Materiel Command in 2008 and retired from that position in August 2012. Air Force Gen. Janet Wolfenbarger has headed up Air Force Materiel Command since June 2012.
This week, the Navy promoted its first woman to four-star rank when Adm. Michelle Howard took over as vice chief of naval operations. Unlike Dunwoody and Wolfenbarger, both Howard and Robinson could see further advancement to different roles within their respective services.
A spokeswoman for the White House said she did not have “any personnel announcements” to share for this article, while a service spokeswoman declined to comment.
Marcus Weisgerber in Washington contributed to this report.