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Monday, February 13, 2012

SW Ohio Woman Breaks Military Glass Ceiling: Obama Picks Buckeye Native As First Female 4-Star Air Force General

Female Gen. Wolfenbarger Gets 4th Star
CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Janet Wolfenbarger will make history with the promotion -- pending Senate approval -- that makes her the first female four-star general to ever wear an Air Force uniform.   It's a lofty rank, the highest an officer can reach in the current military.  And her pioneering continues a tradition that gives the Buckeye State a groundbreaking role in all things involving flight.  Ohio is home to the Wright Brothers, who first figured out how to fly, John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth, and Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the moon.  Wolfenbarger now serves as the military deputy in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition and she is one of four female lieutenant generals in the Air Force.  She is a native of Beavercreek, a suburb of Dayton.

She has released this statement:  "I am humbled and honored to have been nominated by the President to the rank of general and to serve as commander of Air Force Materiel Command. I look forward to participating in the Senate confirmation process when the time comes. At present, I remain focused on the important Air Force acquisition work I've been charged with."

Wolfenbarger got her third star in 2009.  She became the Air Force's highest-ranking woman in January 2010.  Yet within the ranks, there is some grousing going on about the promotion.  Wolfenbarger has never served overseas or in a combat zone.  Some consider her more of a pencil pusher than a warrior.  These are some comments made on the the Air Force portal in response to the announcement:

While her multiple degrees and special project experience are certainly commendable I must question the lack of so much as an overseas short tour or extended combat deployment during her entire three decade career. As these factors are closely scrutinized for promotion to senior enlisted ranks they should be more so for promotion to senior officer ranks. I guess it just redefines being able to do more with less.
Vito, US
General officer appointments are political but it seems a bit nuts to elevate someone to the rank of General that has never deployed or commanded a squadron group wing. I don't doubt she is really smart and is a talented leader but something major seems to be missing here.
AF Vet VA, Virginia

Those sentiments are not universal, and there is a good deal of pride in the fact she has broken the glass ceiling.
 Wolfenbarger's bio shows she  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.  She also  held several positions in the F-22 System Program Office at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base; 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 has been awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Air Force Achievement Medal, the National Defense Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Medal.  Wolfenbarger received her third star in December 2009 and became the Air Force's highest-ranking woman in January 2010.  Dorian DeWind, a former Air Force officer who is military correspondent for the Moderate Voice, says she is competent for the role she has been given and notes that it has taken more than four decades for the highest rank to open to a female.

(Courtesy of Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs)

EDUCATION1980 Bachelor of Science degree in engineering sciences, U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo. 
1983 Squadron Officer School, by correspondence 
1985 Master of Science degree in aeronautics and astronautics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge 
1988 Program Management Course, Defense Systems Management College, Fort Belvoir, Va. 
1991 Air Command and Staff College, by correspondence 
1994 Master of Science degree in national resource strategy, Industrial College of the Armed Forces, National Defense University, Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, D.C. 

ASSIGNMENTS1. July 1980 - August 1981, technical intelligence analyst, Armament Division, Eglin AFB, Fla. 
2. August 1981 - July 1983, communication systems development officer, Electronic Security Command, Kelly AFB, Texas 
3. July 1983 - December 1984, student, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass. 
4. December 1984 - October 1987, Chief, Strategic Offense Weapons Branch, Headquarters Air Force Systems Command, Andrews AFB, Md. 
5. October 1987 - September 1988, executive officer, Headquarters Air Force Systems Command, Andrews AFB, Md. 
6. September 1988 - July 1993, Chief, Plans and Strategies Division; Chief, Air Vehicle Analysis and Integration Team; and Chief, F-22 Subsystems Team, F-22 System Program Office, Aeronautical Systems Center, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio 
7. July 1993 - June 1994, student, Industrial College of the Armed Forces, National Defense University, Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, D.C. 
8. June 1994 - June 1997, Lead F-22 Program Element Monitor, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, the Pentagon, Washington, D.C. 
9. June 1997 - April 2000, Chief, B-2 Air Vehicle Team, B-2 SPO, ASC, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio
10. April 2000 - December 2002, B-2 System Program Director, B-2 SPO, ASC, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio 
11. December 2002 - July 2005, Commander, C-17 Systems Group, Mobility Systems Wing, ASC, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio 
12. August 2005 - July 2006, Director, Air Force Acquisition Center of Excellence, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, the Pentagon, Washington, D.C.
13. August 2006 - January 2007, Special Assistant for Command Transformation to the Commander, Headquarters Air Force Materiel Command, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio
14. January 2007 - July 2008, Director, Intelligence and Requirements Directorate, and Special Assistant for Command Transformation to the Commander, Headquarters AFMC, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio 
15. July 2008 - December 2009, Director, Intelligence and Requirements Directorate, Headquarters AFMC, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio
16. December 2009 - September 2011, Vice Commander, Headquarters Air Force Materiel Command, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio
17. September 2011 - present, Military Deputy, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, the Pentagon, Washington, D.C.


  1. Cincinnati HistoryFebruary 13, 2012 10:31 AM

    Another story the Cincinnati Enquirer ignored. If something good happens involving President Obama, it is not covered by that newspaper. We get political stories and polling about Pete Rose from their crack political reporting team. F***ing joke of a newspaper.

    1. Boy are you correct.

      One of the Enquirer's 2012 "Women to Watch" today runs the Belterra Casino somewhere way the hell out in Indiana. WTF is up with that? The Belterra?

      Then this happens in the Enquirer/'s own backyard and they didn't notice it. The general is a woman to watch! You can put your chips on that.

    2. It reflects so badly on the Enquirer that it named its own editor as a "woman to watch" while missing the Air Force's first-ever 4-star general from just up the road. The problem with the Enquirer's publicly nominated popularity contests (women to watch, best places to work, etc.) is that employees are pressured to nominate their bosses and employers. That happened a couple of years ago when an internally notorious sweatshop run by a son-of-a-bitch made the best places to work list. I get the sense that the Enquirer doesn't make any attempt to verify much of this kind of stuff. Just get people worked up about nominating friends and stuffing the ballot box for companies that aren't so special. This is the "watchdog" reporting that Washburn promised?

  2. When I was in the military 42 years ago there were hardly any women who weren't nurses. The ladies have come a long way. We have learned they can do most things a man can do, and many things better. I am proud to see she is from Ohio.

    1. She was in the first class of female cadets at the Air Force Academy. Broke that barrier too. The men thought the women were not tough enough. Wrong.

  3. Thank-you Bill for putting this on your blog. I learned something today because of you. She must be an amazing woman to make it in the military world which is so dominated by males. I would like to meet her or hear her speak.

  4. Very impressive woman. We are lucky to have her serving our nation. Maybe she is not an Amazon Warrior. Her resume shows she has a great mind.

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  6. Good for her, however; a male would probably never have been promoted to 4 star with such a limited resume.

    1. Men in the Military would WANT nothing more and would be over joyed to see a Woman who can compete and rize up through the Ranks.

      But in many cases the Woman & EVEN MANY MEN as well are placed in positions they have not earned and have no business being there

      And create a nightmare for everyone around them.