The nominations of Air Force General Jacqueline Van Ovost to commander of the United States Transportation Command and Army Lt. Gen. Laura Richardson to commander of the United States Southern Command would make them the second and third women to lead a Combatant Command if confirmed by the Senate.
Biden, during remarks on International Women’s Day at the White House on Monday, called Van Ovost and Richardson “two outstanding and eminently skilled warriors and patriots.”
“Each of these women has led careers that demonstrate unmatched ability, integrity, and duty to the country. And at every step, they have also helped open the doors of opportunity for women in our military, opening the way, a little bit. broader, a little brighter, for all the proud women who follow his path and look at his example, ”said the President.
Two defense officials told CNN on Monday that the women’s and other male officer nominations for the promotion were withdrawn by Trump’s Pentagon because they were sent too early for consideration in Congress.
On Monday, Biden noted that Van Ovost, a first-generation American, flew in Air Force Two when he served as vice president during the Obama administration, and highlighted Richardson’s work as commanding general of the US Army North. ., Coordinating deployed army medical personnel to assist with the coronavirus response.
The president also spoke about the need to eliminate sexual assault and harassment against women in the military, calling it “nothing less than a threat to our national security.”
“This will be an all-hands effort under my administration to end the scourge of sexual assault in the military,” he said.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin addressed Biden’s nominations Monday, saying: “Today they are nominating for combatant command two extraordinary military leaders whose life experience spans nearly 70 years of uniformed service in the peace and in the war”.
“You know that the diversity of our nation makes us stronger and the diversity in our military ranks makes us better at defending the American people,” Austin said.
Vice President Kamala Harris also praised the nominations in brief comments, saying: “While it has only been five years since all combat jobs were opened to women, women have been in the line of fire risking their lives to protect our nation long before that. ” “
CNN’s Chandelis Duster contributed to this report.