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Meet the First Female Air Force Air Commando General

Meet the First Female Air Force Air Commando General

Meet the First Female Air Force Air Commando General

By Debbie Gregory

Breaking another gender barrier, Col. Brenda Cartier will soon become the Air Force Special Operations Command’s (AFSOC) first female air commando brigadier general, according to Lt. Gen. Brad Webb, commander of AFSOC.

Col. Cartier was the first female to command an Air Force Special Operations Command flying squadron when she took command of the 4th Special Operations Squadron Ghostriders in 2009. That designation came just 16 years after the Air Force first allowed women to fly combat missions.

Col. Cartier graduated from undergraduate navigation training the same year women started flying combat missions, but missed the cut by a couple of months. She navigated E-3 AWACS her first four years, which included deployments to Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

“The Air Force knows new potential female recruits and future leaders are out there,” said Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson. “It’s just a matter of time before they come forward.”

Wilson believes that getting more women into military specialties may require focusing more on the protector role of troops than the macho stereotype emphasized in the past.

“We’re trying to change a little bit the way we talk about who the protectors are in this country,” Wilson said. “I think sometimes the way we talk about the services may appeal more to boys than to girls. It’s important the way we talk about things.”

And the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services’ annual report said that the military needs to better tailor marketing efforts if it hopes to attract more women toward military service.

“Although a marketing strategy focused on patriotism may have been successful at recruiting men in the past, current data indicate that strategy does not align with the motivations of prospective female military members, and the data also illustrate more effective ways to recruit women.”

Wilson believes that instead of changing policy, the national conversation around military service needs to change to convince more women to consider it as a career.