General (ret.) Lori Robinson

Lori Robinson

General (ret.) Lori J. Robinson is a nonresident senior fellow in the Strobe Talbott Center for Security, Strategy, and Technology in the Foreign Policy program at Brookings, as well as at the Belfer Center. After 37 years of military service, Gen. Robinson retired in 2018 as commander of the United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) and North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). She is the first woman in U.S. history to lead a combatant command.

USNORTHCOM connects homeland defense, civil support, and security cooperation to defend and secure the United States and its interests. NORAD conducts aerospace warning, aerospace control, and maritime warning in the defense of North America. Prior to her assignment as commander of USNORTHCOM, she commanded the Pacific Air Forces and was air component commander for U.S. Pacific Command at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.

Robinson entered the Air Force in 1982 through the ROTC program at the University of New Hampshire. She served in a variety of positions as an air battle manager, including instructor and commander of the Command and Control Operations Division at the Air Force Fighter Weapons School, and chief of tactics in the 965th Airborne Warning and Control Squadron. She commanded an operations group, a training and air control wings, and deployed as vice commander of the 405th Air Expeditionary Wing, leading more than 2,000 airmen flying the B-1 Lancer, KC-135 Stratotanker, and E-3 Sentry aircraft in Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

General Robinson was an Air Force fellow at The Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., and served at the Pentagon as director of the secretary of the Air Force and chief of staff of the Air Force Executive Action Group. She was also deputy director for force application and support and the Directorate of Force Structure, Resources and Assessment with the Joint Staff at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. Following these assignments, she was director and legislative liaison in the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force at the Pentagon. She also served as the deputy commander of the U.S. Air Forces Central Command, and deputy commander of the Combined Force Air Component with the U.S. Central Command in Southwest Asia, and vice commander of the Air Combat Command at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia.

  • Areas of Expertise

    • Iraq war
    • Military intervention
    • Military policy
    • Preventive defense
  • Current Positions

    • Nonresident Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School
  • Education

    • Air War College, 2001
    • M.A., College of Naval Command and Staff, Naval War College, 1995
    • M.A., Troy State University, 1992
    • Air Force Fighter Weapons School, 1986
    • Squadron Officer School, 1986
    • B.A., University of New Hampshire, 1981
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