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PACAF commander to senators: Homeland defense ‘sacred responsibility’



WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- “Defense of the homeland is a sacred responsibility and the No. 1 mission of the Department of Defense,” Gen. Lori J. Robinson told a Senate panel April 21 during her nomination hearing to become commander of U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command.

Robinson, who now commands Pacific Air Forces and is air component commander for U.S. Pacific Command, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee, noting that the U.S. faces a rapidly evolving and growing threat environment in terms of the number of those who wish to harm the nation and the complexity of tools at their disposal.

“Our country faces many challenging threats from within and abroad, ranging from threats such as home-grown violent extremist, cyberattacks (and) trafficking of drugs and other illicit products by transnational criminal organizations -- two threats posed by nation states such as Russia, North Korea and Iran,” Robinson said.

“In my experiences as the Pacific Air Forces commander and the air component for (U.S. Pacific Command Commander Navy Adm. Harry) Harris, I'm intimately aware of the tenuous situation on the (Korean) peninsula and throughout the region, and understand the potential threats posed to the security of our homeland,” the general said.

Robinson told the panel that if confirmed she will work to uphold the faith that the American people have placed in NORTHCOM and NORAD and to ensure that the commands remain vigilant and postured to outpace any potential threat.

If confirmed, Robinson said, she will continue to develop strong relationships with U.S. homeland partners, so the nation is prepared to provide defense support to federal, state and local authorities as requested when the American people need it.

The general added that she would further strengthen the outstanding U.S. friendship with Canada and help grow U.S. partnerships with Mexico and the Bahamas.

Last month, after President Barack Obama nominated Robinson to head NORTHCOM and NORAD, Defense Secretary Ash Carter released a statement that said Robinson has excelled in an array of leadership positions where training, force structure and readiness are paramount.

“Her deep operational experience,” the secretary added, “will enable the men and women of NORAD and NORTHCOM continue building upon the excellence they have demonstrated under Adm. William Gortney’s strong and steady leadership in this critical command.”

If confirmed, Robinson will be the first woman to head one of the nine unified combatant commands.