Air Force General becomes second woman to lead U.S. high command
WASHINGTON (AP) – Air Force General Jacqueline Van Ovost on Friday only became the second woman to lead one of the Pentagon’s 11 so-called Combat Commands, the multi-service organizations that run operations US military around the world.
During a change of command ceremony at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin applauded Van Ovost’s historic rise to the helm of US Transportation Command. He called her a “legend of a leader”, a trained pilot and a key player in airlifting tens of thousands of evacuees from Kabul in August. She helped orchestrate the airlift as commander of Air Force Air Mobility Command.
“We need all the Jackie Van Ovost we can get,” said Austin, a retired army general. “As she likes to say, ‘As young women who look up, it’s hard to be what you can’t see.’ General Van Ovost therefore knows the importance of breaking down barriers. “
General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, applauded the depth of Van Ovost’s experience.
“There is not a single person who is better prepared to lead TransCom than Jackie Van Ovost,” he said.
The Transport Command is responsible for all aspects of global transport for the military, including the movement of goods and personnel by land, sea and air. Its 89th Airlift Wing at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland operates planes for government VIP travel, including Air Force One for the President.
Van Ovost, a 1988 graduate of the Air Force Academy and former deputy director of the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, took over transport command for retired Army General Stephen Lyons. The only other woman to lead a U.S. Combatant Command is the now-retired Army General Lori Robinson, who took over U.S. Northern Command in 2016. Army General Laura Richardson is expected to take over take command of the southern United States on October 29, succeeding the navy. Adm. Craig Faller.