President Barack Obama could be close to nominating the first-ever woman to become the head of a military combatant command, Pentagon sources tell NPR.The U.S. military divides the world into areas of responsibility run by four-star generals and admirals, but none has ever been female. Obama wants to change that before the end of his term, Pentagon sources say, by naming a woman to take command of U.S. Northern Command, which also runs the well-known North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD.NORAD and NorthCom are charged with defending the U.S., including scrambling Air Force fighters to respond to the recent intrusions by Russian bombers near American airspace. There’s talk that its current commander, Navy Adm. Bill Gortney, could be retiring before his term is up at the end of next year, which would create the opportunity to make history with a female commander.Two names on the shortlist are Air Force Gen. Lori Robinson, who now commands U.S. Air Forces in the Pacific, and Adm. Michelle Howard, who today serves as the vice chief of the Navy.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with choosing either of these flag officers to serve as NORTHCOM. But the Obama administration has placed such emphasis on promoting women, for the sake of promoting women, that should either be appointed, they will always carry an asterisk by their names as political affirmative action appointments, no matter how competent they may be.