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The Washington Times claims of Lt. Gen. Lori J. Robinson that

The White House has picked the first female general to head the Air Force in the Pacific, which will make her the first non-pilot to command air power in such a large theater of operation.

Is this correct?

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    I can't help but notice the discrepancy between the title and the quote. It doesn't say she is the first - merely in command of the largest theater. – Oddthinking Jul 18 '14 at 15:56
  • @Oddthinking I didn't see "largest" though it would be more sensational. WT: "the first non-pilot to command air power in such a large theater". Me: "the first non-pilot to command a theater". Should I change to "a large theater"? I don't think "such a large theater" would make much sense. Thank you! – user20862 Jul 18 '14 at 15:59
  • Are you happy with that? – Oddthinking Jul 18 '14 at 16:04
  • @Oddthinking But "largest" doesn't appear anywhere in the article and would be a huge deviation from the claim: large to largest. Also, she's only a nominee, so I wonder if it shouldn't be asking for a prediction. And "first" seems to be a key claim in the article, at least relative to the size. – user20862 Jul 18 '14 at 16:07
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    Hmmm... Do you mind elaborating your point? I might be missing a subtlety here, but I read it as saying no X non-pilot has ever commanded one as large, which is equivalent to saying it is the largest ever commanded by a non-pilot. I don't see it as a deviation at all. Am I missing the point here? – Oddthinking Jul 18 '14 at 16:11
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I'm assuming you want to limit this to US armed forces, since I'm not sure that gathering the data from every air force in the world is very feasible.

If that's the case, it certainly appears that way. Pacific Air Command (PACAF) has long been the largest area of responsibility in the US Air Force, covering over 100M sq miles, or just over half the world's surface area.

The name of the command has been changed over time (since the Army Air Forces era), but a relatively straightforward list of the commanders of this area is:

 General George C. Kenney, 3 Aug 1944
 Lt Gen Ennis C. Whitehead, 30 Dec 1945
 Lt Gen George E. Stratemeyer, 26 Apr 1949
 Lt Gen Earle E. Partridge (acting), 21 May 1951
 General Otto P. Weyland, 10 Jun 1951
 Gen Earle E. Partridge, 26 Mar 1954
 Gen Laurence C. Kuter, 1 Jun 1955
 Gen Emmett O'Donnell Jr., 1 Aug 1959
 Gen Jacob E. Smart, 1 Aug 1963
 Gen Hunter Harris Jr., 1 Aug 1964
 Gen John D. Ryan, 1 Feb 1967
 Gen Joseph J. Nazzaro, 1 Aug 1968
 Gen Lucius D. Clay Jr., 1 Aug 1971
 Gen John W. Vogt, 1 Oct 1973
 Gen Louis L. Wilson Jr., 1 Jul 1974
 Lt Gen James A. Hill, 1 Jun 1977
 Lt Gen James D. Hughes, 15 Jun 1978
 Lt Gen Arnold W. Braswell, 1 Jul 1981
 Gen Jerome F. O'Malley, 8 Oct 1983
 Gen Robert W. Bazley, 1 Nov 1984
 Gen Jack I. Gregory, 16 Dec 1986
 Gen Merrill A. McPeak, 22 Jul 1988
 Lt Gen James B. Davis, 5 Nov 1990
 Gen Jimmie V. Adams, 19 Feb 1991
 Gen Robert L. Rutherford, 26 Jan 1993
 Gen John G. Lorber, 12 Oct 1994
 Gen Richard B. Myers, 7 Jul 1997
 Gen Patrick K. Gamble, 23 Jul 1998
 Lt Gen Lansford E. Trapp (acting), 9 Apr 2001
 Gen William J. Begert, 4 May 2001
 Gen Paul V. Hester, 2 Jul 2004- 

There have been three commanders since that page's last entry, easily verifiable by Google:

 Gen Carrol H. Chandler, Nov 2007
 Gen Gary North, Aug 2009
 Gen Herbert Carlisle, Aug 2012-

A quick perusal of their Wikipedia entries shows them all as pilots at one point in their career. I don't really see why those would be inaccurate, but you can follow them all to their primary sources if interested.

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    It must be noted that she was part of the air crew as an Air Weapons Controller, just not a pilot. As someone who has served as a non-pilot, I don't really see why this is a big deal. – Is Begot Jul 18 '14 at 16:41
  • You mean aside from the experience of being shot at or killing someone else? Then yes, no big deal. – user20862 Jul 25 '14 at 15:08
  • @Cincinnatus As part of the crew, she was absolutely in danger of being shot down. As far as killing someone, that's only applicable for certain types of aircraft where the pilot himself is pulling the trigger. On any aircraft that employs a separate gunner or bomb tech, it's irrelevant, and "non-pilot" in the claim doesn't discriminate. Even apart from aircraft, there are many non-pilot career fields where you would be shot at or shooting. I've been in locations bombarded by mortar fire, but never sat behind the yoke. – Is Begot Jul 25 '14 at 15:20

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