Janet Wolfenbarger, Air Force’s First Female Four Star, Takes Material Command
In March, Janet Wolfenbarger became the first female four-star general in Air Force history. Now, she's assumed command of all Air Force weapons programs.
In March, Janet Wolfenbarger became the first female four-star general in Air Force history. Now, she’s assumed command of all Air Force weapons programs.
Business Insider (“The Future Of All Air Force Weapons Programs Are Now Under The Command Of This One Woman“):
Meet the woman responsible for making sure all of the Air Force’s weapons are ready for war.
General Janet Wolfenbarger is blowing away any hint of the military’s fabled glass ceiling.
First, she became the first female four-star general in Air Force history.
Now she’s taken the top position of Air Force Material Command (AFMC), which has one simple vision: “War-winning capabilities — on time, on cost.”
A bit more of her background from the Air Force’s official site from back in March (“First Air Force female four-star general confirmed“):
The Senate confirmed Air Force Lt. Gen. Janet Wolfenbarger for promotion March 26, making her the first female four-star general in Air Force history.
Wolfenbarger currently serves as the military deputy in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition here and she is one of four female lieutenant generals in the Air Force.
“This is an historic occasion for the Air Force,” said Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley. “General Wolfenbarger’s 32 years of service, highlighted by extraordinary leadership and devotion to duty, make her exceptionally qualified for this senior position and to serve as the next commander of Air Force Materiel Command.”
“I am honored to have been confirmed by the Senate for promotion to the rank of General and to serve as commander of Air Force Materiel Command. Until I take command of AFMC, I will continue to focus on the important Air Force acquisition work here at the Pentagon,” said Wolfenbarger.
Wolfenbarger, a native of Beavercreek, Ohio, was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1980 after graduating in the first class with female cadets at the Air Force Academy.
She also holds a graduate degree in aeronautics and astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge.
The general has held several positions in the F-22 System Program Office at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio; served as the F-22 lead program element monitor at the Pentagon, and was the B-2 System program director for the Aeronautical Systems Center, Wright-Patterson AFB.
She commanded ASC’s C-17 Systems Group, Mobility Systems Wing and was the service’s director of the Air Force Acquisition Center of Excellence at the Pentagon, then served as director of the Headquarters AFMC Intelligence and Requirements Directorate, Wright-Patterson AFB. Prior to her current assignment, Wolfenbarger was the vice commander of Air Force Materiel Command, Wright-Patterson AFB.
Obviously, a very impressive career. What jumped out at me, though, is that she was commissioned in 1980. That’s eight years before me. My cohorts that remain in the Army are all bird colonels. Making four-star rank after a mere 32 years is meteoric; doing so as a support officer is virtually unheard of.
Her Wikipedia entry, which I presume is based on some official bio somewhere, lists her assignment and promotion history:
|General||March 26, 2012|
|Lieutenant General||December 3, 2009|
|Major General||June 26, 2009|
|Brigadier General||February 1, 2006|
|Colonel||September 1, 1998|
|Lieutenant Colonel||June 1, 1993|
|Major||January 1, 1990|
|Captain||May 28, 1984|
|First Lieutenant||May 28, 1982|
|Second Lieutenant||May 28, 1980|
She made lieutenant colonel thirteen years out of the academy?! In a peacetime Air Force?! That’s absurdly fast; it was customary in the late 1980s for it to take twelve years to pin on major. Even with a couple of below-the-zone promotions, that’s some achievement. Her promotions then slowed to a more normal pace, pinning on her first star a little less than 26 years into her career. But then another star in 3 years and yet another less than 6 months later!
Again, I have no reason to think she’s anything other than a superstar. Being part of that trailblazing class in 1980 sure as hell wasn’t easy. And she’s got a masters in aeronautics and astronautics from MIT, so I assume she’s smart as hell. Still, four-star generals aren’t exactly a weak peer group. How did she rise through the ranks so fast as a non-rated officer?
Even Ann Dunwoody, the Army’s first woman four-star–and, indeed, the first female four-star in US military history–took 33 years. Interestingly, she had the equivalent position, commanding the Army Material Command.
For comparison, Colin Powell–whose rise was also unusually fast–took 31 years to reach four-star rank. But he was an infantry officer who jumped through the early ranks at a rapid clip during the Vietnam War. Martin Dempsey, the current Chairman, took 34 years. But, again, he was a combat arms officer.