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Pacific's top Air Force commander to take helm of NORAD and Northern Command in Colorado Springs

April 10, 2018 Updated: April 11, 2018 at 7:55 am
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A military policeman guards the first blast door leading into the bunker of the Cheyenne Mountain Complex. The Air Force station, owned and operated by Air Force Space Command, began operating Feb. 6, 1967, as the NORAD Combat Operations Center. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

The top Air Force officer in the Pacific will lead U.S. Northern Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command in Colorado Springs after a change-of-command next month.

Gen. Terrence J. O'Shaughnessy, now head of Pacific Air Forces in Hawaii, will replace Gen. Lori Robinson, who has led the command since 2016, the Pentagon announced Tuesday evening.

GENERAL TERRENCE J. O'SHAUGHNESSY (U.S. Airforce) 

O'Shaughnessy, a 1986 Air Force Academy graduate, has spent more than 3,000 hours in the cockpit and is a noted expert on the F-16 fighter.

A formal transfer of the leadership post is expected in May, but a date has not been announced.

O'Shaughnessy has led airmen in South Korea and has served as a top policy expert on Asian affairs. At Pacific Air Forces, he led 46,000 airmen.

In his new job, O'Shaughnessy will be in charge of protecting the continent from attack and providing military assistance to civil authorities dealing with domestic disasters.

Robinson led Northern Command through one of the worst hurricane seasons on record and has been a steady hand through a series of nuclear threats from North Korea.

The radar expert also was the first woman to lead one of the Defense Department's combatant commands. Robinson's rise through the ranks was lauded as an important step for women in uniform.

While her plans have not been announced, retirement is expected.

Northern Command was formed after the 9/11 attacks in Washington, D.C., and New York to better defend American and Canadian airspace. It has become the military's premiere command for thwarting terrorist threats, and it oversees defense from ballistic missiles.

NORAD, which turns 60 next month, was formed to counter the threats of Russian bombers over the U.S. and Canada. It has branched out to become a full partnership between the two nations, defending them on air, land and sea.

The Command also has more than 200 Canadian troops in Colorado Springs who help monitor threats.

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Contact Tom Roeder: 636-0240

Twitter: @xroederx

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