Oct. 17 (UPI) -- For the first time in U.S. history, a woman is leading the U.S. Army Forces Command -- having taken over Tuesday for Gen. Robert B. Abrams.
Lt. Gen. Laura J. Richardson, who's been in the U.S. Army for 22 years, assumed the post in a changing of the guard ceremony at Fort Bragg in North Carolina Tuesday. As acting FORSCOM commander, she will lead 776,000 soldiers and 96,000 civilians.
The mission of FORSCOM is "to prepare conventional U.S. Army forces to provide sustained flow of trained and ready land power to Combatant Commanders in defense of the nation at home and abroad."
"Connie and I leave here today knowing that the command is in great hands," Abrams, who is leaving the role to lead forces in South Korea, said Tuesday. "Laura Richardson and this FORSCOM team are going to continue doing what we do best and that's all about readiness until my successor arrives."
Richardson had been serving as the unit's deputy commanding general.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley said Richardson will be in command for a "considerable length of time."
"We know you are going to do a great job, as we know everyone in FORSCOM is going to do a great job for Laura Richardson as they did for Abe Abrams," Milley said.
Richardson graduated from Metropolitan State College and was commissioned in 1986. She received her pilot's license at age 16 and was in aviation during her time in South Korea and at Kentucky's Fort Campbell.
Richardson has ascended to several Army posts over the years. In 2012, she became the first female deputy commanding general for the 1st Cavalry Division, and last year became second in command to Abrams, another historic achievement. She's also served as a military aide to the vice president and an Army liaison to the U.S. Senate.