General Laura Richardson will become the first woman ever to head the Southern Command of the country's Armed Forces after a Senatorial green light was issued Wednesday.
The appointment of the 57-year-old Richardson was approved by the Senate together with her promotion to four-star general.
The Southern Command, or just Southcom, is the unit in charge of US military operations in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Richardson's nomination to this position had been announced by US President Joseph Biden on March 8 at the White House on the occasion of International Women's Day.
Richardson thus becomes the second woman ever to lead a combat command in United States history, after retired General Lori Robinson, who was in charge of the Northern Command between 2016 and 2018.
Biden had also announced on March 8 his choice of Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost to head the Transportation Command, but this issue is still pending Upper House approval.
According to The New York Times, the Pentagon had approved the nominations of Richardson and Van Ovost for months, but decided to wait until after the elections last November out of fear that then President Donald Trump would veto them for being women.
Richardson has so far been commander of the North Formation of the United States Army, based at Joint Base San Antonio (Texas), and the first woman to hold that position. She will now go on to lead more than 1,200 military and civilians that make up the Southern Command (Southcom), based in Doral (Florida).
Richardson is to succeed Admiral Craig Faller, who has been in charge since 2018 and under whom the Southcom has increased its military presence in Latin America to fight drug trafficking.
The General joined the Armed Forces in 1986. Her dream was to be a helicopter pilot, and she began training to become one when she was 15 years old and women were still not allowed to operate combat aircraft.
Already as a soldier, she flew Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and served in Iraq and Afghanistan, in addition to being a military adviser to former Vice President Al Gore (1993-2001) and transporting the nuclear briefcase.
In 2017, Richardson became the first female deputy commander of the Army's highest command, known as Forscom, which she came to lead on an interim basis in late 2018.
She has been married for more than 30 years to lieutenant general James Richardson, whom she met at flight school and with whom she has a daughter and a granddaughter.