General (ret.) Lori J. Robinson is a non-resident Senior Fellow at the Belfer Center. After 37 years of military service, Gen. Robinson retired this year (2018) as Commander, United States Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command (USNORTHCOM). She is the first woman in U.S. history to lead a combatant command. At the Belfer Center, Robinson shares her insights on leadership, public service, and international security issues with faculty, staff, and students, including National Security Fellows.

USNORTHCOM, which Gen. Robinson led, connect homeland defense, civil support, and security cooperation to defend and secure the United States and its interests. NORAD conducts aerospace warning, aerospace control, and maritime warning in the defense of North America. Prior to her assignment as commander of USNORTHCOM, she commanded the Pacific Air Forces and was Air Component Commander for U.S. Pacific Command at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.

Robinson entered the Air Force in 1982 through the ROTC program at the University of New Hampshire. She served in a variety of positions as an Air Battle Manager, including instructor and Commander of the Command and Control Operations Division at the Air Force Fighter Weapons School, and Chief of Tactics in the 965th Airborne Warning and Control Squadron. She commanded an operations group, a training and air control wings, and deployed as Vice Commander of the 405th Air Expeditionary Wing, leading more than 2,000 Airmen flying the B-1 Lancer, KC-135 Stratotanker, and E-3 Sentry aircraft in operations ENDURING and IRAQI FREEDOM.

General Robinson was an Air Force Fellow at The Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., and served at the Pentagon as Director of the Secretary of the Air Force and Chief of Staff of the Air Force Executive Action Group. She was also Deputy Director for Force Application and Support and the Directorate of Force Structure, Resources and Assessment with the Joint Staff at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. Following these assignments, she was Director and Legislative Liaison in the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force at the Pentagon. She also served as the Deputy Commander of the U.S. Air Forces Central Command, and Deputy Commander of the Combined Force Air Component with the U.S. Central Command, Southwest Asia, and Vice Commander of the Air Combat Command, Langley Air Force Base, Virginia.


  • 1981 Bachelor of Arts degree in English, University of New Hampshire, Durham
  • 1986 Squadron Officer School, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
  • 1986 Distinguished Graduate, Air Force Fighter Weapons School, Nellis AFB, Nev.
  • 1992 Master of Arts in education leadership and management, Troy State University, Ala.
  • 1995 Master's degree in national security and strategic studies, College of Naval Command and Staff, Naval War College, Newport, R.I.
  • 2001 Air War College, by correspondence
  • 2002 Air Force Fellow, The Brookings Institution, Washington, D.C.
  • 2005 Senior Executive Fellows Program, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.
  • 2013 Leadership at the Peak, Center for Creative Leadership, Colorado Springs, Colo.



  • Distinguished Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters
  • Defense Superior Service Medal
  • Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters
  • Bronze Star Medal with oak leaf cluster
  • Defense Meritorious Service Medal
  • Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters
  • Aerial Achievement Medal
  • Air Force Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters


Last Updated: Jan 27, 2020, 5:18pm