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Army Names First Woman to Lead Largest Command

History was made when Laura J. Richardson was named the first female to lead the largest command in the U.S. Army.

In this role. she will oversee 750,000 active army and reserve soldiers along with 96,000 civilians. Richardson will spearhead the largest provider of expeditionary, regionally engaged, campaign-capable land forces to combatant commanders.

For the past year, Richardson has gotten to know her subordinates as second in command to General Robert B. Abrams when she was made the first female deputy commanding general of FORSCOM in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Abrams announced on Tuesday that he would be stepping down to become commander of United States Armed Forces Korea.

In a ceremony to announce the move, Army Chief of Staff Mark A. Milley said to Richardson, “You’re going to be commanding this command for a considerable length of time. It will be measured in months, not days or weeks. We know that you are going to do a great job and we know that everyone in forces command is going to do as great a job for Laura Richardson as you did for Abe Abrams.”

Richardson joined the army in 1986 and has been making history for women ever since. In 2012, Richardson became the first female deputy commanding general for the 1st Cavalry Division, known as “America’s First Team.” And last year, she became the first woman to serve as deputy commander of forces command.

“Each of my assignments from platoon leader to company commander to the commanding general of the Operational Test Command has challenged me to learn and excel as a soldier and a leader,” Richardson said.

She was always a class above her peers earning her civilian pilot’s license at the age of 16. This Metropolitan State University graduate has been training to be a leader her entire career. She served as an aide to Vice President Al Gore and as a liaison to the U.S. Senate.

“The command thing, being able to lead America’s sons and daughters, to teach and train them, go to combat with them, is by far the most rewarding position I’ve had,” Richardson said in 2012. “If you’d ask me at ROTC at Metro State if I’d ever be a commander in combat, flying helicopters, or the vice-president’s military aide, I never would have believed that.”

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