May 16, 2016 – Air Force Gen. Lori Robinson assumed command of the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command from Navy Adm. Bill Gortney during a ceremony at Peterson Air Force, Colorado, on May 13, 2016.
Robinson is the first female to lead a combatant command. Commissioned in 1982, General Robinson has commanded at all levels of the Air Force and most recently served as commander of the Pacific Air Forces.
“I extend my congratulations to General Robinson, a proven, talented leader with more than 30 years of service to our country,” said Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO). “She has paved the way for women in the military, serving as the first female four-star general to command combat forces and now as the first female to lead a combatant command. Her expertise and sound decision-making has supported more than 46,000 Airmen throughout her career, and I’m confident that she will expertly lead the Department of Defense’s efforts to defend the homeland during these challenging times.
The change of command ceremony was presided over by the U.S. Secretary of Defense, Ash Carter, and the Canadian Chief of the Defence Staff, Gen. Jonathan H. Vance. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr. and Canadian Defence Minister Harjit S. Sajjan were also in attendance.
NORAD is a bi-national military command between the U.S. and Canada, charged with the missions of aerospace warning, aerospace control and maritime warning in the defense of North America. USNORTHCOM partners to conduct homeland defense, civil support and security cooperation to defend and secure the United States and its interests. The two commands have complementary missions and are co-located together in the headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Carter praised Gortney for his service, leadership and professionalism, and welcomed Robinson to her new post.
“As commander of NORAD and USNORTHCOM, Admiral Bill Gortney has been instrumental in forging a stronger coordination and deeper connection with both our Mexican and Canadian neighbors,” Carter said. “Bill, as you transition from this command, you can take comfort in knowing that NORAD and USNORTHCOM are now in the hands of another proven strategic leader, warrior and diplomat, General Lori Robinson.”
The secretary noted that changes in the world continue to show the need for NORAD and USNORTHCOM to protect and defend North America.
“As a strategic thinker and joint force leader, General Robinson has proven her ability to manage complex operations with partners across theaters and domains; these abilities will serve our nation well as NORAD and USNORTHCOM continue their vital contributions in the counter-ISIL campaign and defense of our homelands,” Carter said.
Sajjan remarked on the great partnership between Canada and the U.S.
“NORAD is certainly a shining example of two countries that can and continue to work together for mutual benefit,” the Minister said. “May history record, reflect and remember our unique partnership.”
As the new commander of two of the most complex commands in the world, Robinson spoke about the importance of homeland defense.
“The world is more dangerous, and North America is increasingly vulnerable to a vast array of evolving threats, threats in every domain we operate in,” Robinson said.
Robinson also noted the importance of the various mission partners who are key to the success of the two commands.
“With linkages in our cultures, our prosperity and our security, the quality and scope of cooperation between the United States, Canada and Mexico is at an unprecedented high,” Robinson said. “Undeniably the power and the strength of NORAD and U.S. Northern Command are derived from its sustained partnerships with joint, interagency and multinational organizations.”
Prior to departing from Colorado Springs for retirement, Gortney took a moment to thank his family, the Navy and the local community for their support, and wished Robinson well in her new assignment. He had special words for his NORAD and NORTHCOM team.
“To all the members of NORAD and NORTHCOM, Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines Coast Guardsmen, civilians, shipmates: I wish to thank each and every member of the NORAD and NORTHCOM team, and I want to really thank their families for the sacrifices and contributions each of them make. While we wear the cloth of our nation, it is the families that are the very stitching that hold that cloth together,” Gortney said.
While he was in Colorado Springs, Secretary Carter also visited the Joint Interagency Combined Space Operations Center (JICSpOC) to meet with leadership and to discuss the new operation center’s work on key space issues. He also visited the U.S. Air Force Academy, where he met with cadets, toured the academy’s cyber lab and innovation center and delivered remarks.