U.S. Female Combatant Commander to Speak at Duke

Gen. Lori J. Robinson, the United States’ first female combatant commander, will speak at Duke on Monday, February 12

Gen. Lori J. Robinson, the United States’ first female combatant commander, will talk about the challenges of leading U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) and North American Defense Command (NORAD) Monday, Feb. 12, at Duke University.

The talk begins at 6 p.m. in the Sanford School of Public Policy’s Fleishman Commons. The event is free and open to the public, and parking is available for $2 per hour at the Bryan Center Parking Garage.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, Duke Rubenstein Fellow and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will interview Robinson, along with Peter Feaver, director of Duke’s Program in American Grand Strategy and professor of political science and public policy.

After a nearly 35-year career in the Air Force, Robinson became the first female combatant commander in 2016. She is a four-star general and the highest-ranked woman in the U.S. military with a top-tier war-fighting command.

Robinson will discuss the challenges of her dual military command responsibilities. While both commands are responsible for defending mainland United States, they have significant differences. The mission of USNORTHCOM is to defend U.S. territory from attack and to work with civilian authorities during emergencies. It was created after the 9/11 attack. NORAD is a joint operation between the U.S. and Canada to defend the airspace and coasts of both nations.

"General Robinson is at the tip of the spear defending the homeland against traditional threats like ballistic missiles and air attack as well as unconventional challenges like natural disasters,” Feaver said.

“For many military commands, the fight is an 'away' game. For General Robinson and the men and women she leads, it is a 'home game,' every day.

“She also happens to be the most powerful woman in the U.S. military and so brings a distinctive perspective to the role of women in national security. With the headlines full of warnings about North Korean missiles, Russian bombers and devastating natural disasters, her visit could hardly be more timely," he said.

The American Grand Strategy’s  lecture is co-sponsored by the Sanford School of Public Policy and Duke Political Science.