Laura Richardson will be the first woman in charge of the US Southern Command.

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source: www.southcom.mil

The lieutenant general will take office on October 29 and will replace Navy Admiral Craig S. Faller.

The Southern Command (Southcom), based in South Florida, stated this Friday that Lieutenant General Laura J. Richardson would take office on October 29 as the first woman in charge of this institution of the United States Army that cooperates on issues of security with the governments of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Richardson, 57, was promoted to general before the change of command, r

eplacing Navy Admiral Craig S. Faller, who took over in November 2018.

In his new role, Richardson, who has previously served in relief operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, is responsible for US defense and security cooperation with Latin American and Caribbean partners, as well as US military operations.

In a recent interview with EFE, Admiral Faller stressed that Lieutenant Richardson " is extremely talented " and will face basically the same challenges, especially undemocratic, as he has since he assumed the leadership of Southcom.

Richardson has been in the military for more than three decades, joining in 1986. His dream was to be a helicopter pilot. He began training for it when he was  15 years old, and women were still not allowed to operate combat aircraft.

As a soldier, she flew  Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters. 

He served in two combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan and as a military adviser to former Vice President Al Gore (1993-2001), and transferred a nuclear briefcase.

In 2017, Richardson became the first female deputy commander of the Army's highest command, called Forskom, to take over leadership on an interim basis in late 2018.

She has been married for more than 30 years to another three-star lieutenant general,  James Richardson, whom she met at flight school and with whom she has a daughter and a granddaughter.

It was confirmed last August by the United States Senate after being nominated by the White House.

Richardson has previously served as Commanding General of the United States Army North at the Joint Base in San Antonio, Texas.

Richardson will be the first woman in charge of U.S. Southern Command and the second woman to lead a combat command in U.S. history, after retired Gen. Lori Robinson, who led Northern Command between 2016 and 2018.

Faller, 60, will retire as a naval officer after nearly four decades of military service.

The admiral has also criticized Nicolás Maduro's regime in Venezuela, considering it a "shame" that has "destroyed the country for 25 years, ruined its people, and violated their human rights," he told Efe.

He then pointed out that they are focused on helping Colombia, which has absorbed a " tremendous increase in Venezuelan migrants ."

As Southcom commander, the admiral pushed for increased resource endowments to support counternarcotics operations in the region. He also oversaw COVID-19 response assistance in the Caribbean and Latin America and disaster relief operations following the devastating hurricanes in Central America and the recent earthquake in Haiti.

Southcom, one of the country's six unified commandos, is based in Doral, South Miami, adjacent to Miami.