Defense Secretary Ash Carter has nominated Gen. Lori Robinson to be the next head of the U.S. Northern Command, the Pentagon said Friday morning.

Robinson will be the first woman to ever head a combatant command, Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said in a tweet announcing Robinson's nomination.

Robinson is now commander of Pacific Air Forces. Before heading PACAF, Robinson was vice commander of Air Combat Command. She is a senior air battle manager with more than 900 flight hours in the E-3B/C and E-8C aircraft.

If confirmed by the Senate, she would replace Adm. Bill Gortney, who held the position since December 2014.

Seen as a rising star in the Air Force, Robinson has shot through the ranks, adding a star a year from 2012 through 2014.

In June 2012, just before current Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh took office, Robinson was a two-star serving as deputy commander, US Air Forces Central Command; less than a year later, she pinned on her third star in May 2013 and became vice commander, Air Combat Command.

Then in October 2014, she pinned on her fourth star and took over as commander, Pacific Air Forces. With the PACAF assignment, Robinson became the first US female four-star to command combat forces.

Aaron Mehta contributed to this story.

Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.

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