The White House announced on Saturday nominations for three U.S. combatant commands. Army Lt. Gen. Laura Richardson was nominated to lead the U.S. Southern Command and a fourth star. Navy Adm. John Aquilino has been nominated to lead the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. Air Force Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost was nominated to take over the U.S. Transportation Command.
Each nominee previously held high-ranking military leadership posts. Gen. Ovost has led the Air Mobility Command since last August. Lt. Gen. Richardson was the head of U.S. Army North, while Adm. Aquilino served as the head of the U.S. Pacific Fleet.
There are 11 Combatant Commands in the Department of Defense (DoD). Each command is in charge of a particular operational geographic region or domain. The Commands are Africa, Central, Cyber, European, Indo-Pacific, Northern, Southern, Space, Special Operations, Strategic, and Transportation.
Admin Aquilino’s nomination will illustrate the Biden Administration’s keen interest in the Indo-Pacific region and Chinese Naval operations in the South China Sea. Navy Vice Adm. Samuel Paparo Jr., commander of the Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet, will assume control of the Pacific Fleet.
The White House is expected to feature the nominations of Van Ovorst and Rhiardson at its Monday event in honor of Women's History Month. If they are confirmed, they will be the second and third women to lead a combatant command. The first woman to lead a combatant command was Air Force Gen. Lori Robinson in 2016.
Van Ovost has served as a test pilot, commanded a refueling squadron and training wing. Also, she served as vice director of the joint staff and headed the C-17 Globemaster III program at the Pentagon. Richardson flew UH-60 Black helicopter combat missions during the Iraq War. If confirmed, Richardson will be the second female four-star general in Army history.