Air Force Gen. Jacqueline Van Auvost becomes the second woman to command one of the 11 combat commands of the Pentagon, the multi-service structures that lead US military operations around the world.
At a change of command ceremony Friday at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin hailed Van Offust’s historic rise to the position of chief of US Transportation Command.
He described her as a “leadership legend,” a training pilot and air transport champion for the tens of thousands of evacuees from Kabul in August. He helped organize the airlift as commander of the Air Force’s Air Traffic Command.
“We need everything we can from Jackie Van Ovust,” said Austin, a retired Army general. “As she likes to say, ‘As a young woman seeking promotion, it’s hard to be what you don’t see. “So General Van Auvost knows the importance of breaking down barriers.”
General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, praised Van Ovost’s profound experience. “No one person is more willing to lead TransCom than Jackie Van Auvost,” he said.
Transportation Command is responsible for all aspects of the global transportation of the United States Armed Forces, such as the movement of goods and personnel by land, sea, and air. The 89th Airlift Wing at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland operates aircraft for government VIP travel, including Air Force One.
Van Auvost, a 1988 Air Force Academy graduate and formerly deputy director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon, took over command of transport from retired Army Gen. Stephen Lyons.
The only other woman to have commanded US combat command is Army General Laurie Robinson, now retired, who took over US Northern Command in 2016.
Army General Laura Richardson is scheduled to take command of the United States Southern Command on October 29, succeeding Rear Admiral Craig Faller.