Air Force’s First Female Four-Star General Confirmed by the Senate

Janet Wolfenbarger became the Air Force's first four-star general Monday.: U.S. Air Force Photo by Michael Pausic

The U.S. Senate made history Monday when it confirmed Lt. Gen. Janet C. Wolfenbarger as a General.  She becomes the first woman to reach the rank of four-star general in the U.S. Air Force.

Wolfenbarger will take command of Air Force Materiel Command at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, on June 5. The service’s highest-ranking female now works at the Pentagon as a military deputy in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition. She oversees research and development, testing, production and modernization of an annual $40 billion in Air Force programs.

Wolfenbarger was among the first group of 157 female cadets to attend the Air Force Academy in 1976.  She graduated in 1980 with a degree in engineering sciences. She earned a master’s degree in aeronautics and astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1985. She also received a master’s degree in national resource strategy in 1994.

Women today make up about 9 percent of general officers in the Air Force: one four-star, three lieutenant generals, 12 major generals and 11 brigadier generals. Women service members make up about 19 percent of the military.

In 2008, Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody, commanding general of the Army Materiel Command, became the first woman in U.S. military history to receive a fourth star.

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