The Air Force Academy is getting its first female superintendent.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced Friday that Maj. Gen. Michelle D. Johnson would become the Colorado Springs school's 19th leader. The U.S. Senate must first approve her promotion to three-star lieutenant general.
The Spencer, Iowa, native would replace Lt. Gen. Michael Gould, who became superintendent in June 2009.
Johnson has been the deputy chief of staff for operations and intelligence for NATO. She was the deputy director for the Joint Chiefs of Staff 's War on Terrorism, Strategic Plans and Policy Directorate at the Pentagon. She also served as an Air Force White House aide to Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
A command pilot, she has more than 3,600 hours in cargo planes, tankers and trainers.
She graduated from the academy in 1981 and has two other significant firsts: first female cadet wing commander and first female Rhodes scholar. At Oxford, she earned a master's degree in politics and economics, and also holds a master's in national security strategy from the National War College at Fort Lesley J. McNair in Washington.
Out of the classroom, she was a varsity basketball standout during her undergraduate year: she's the team's second-highest all-time scorer with 1,706 points.
Michael Winter, USA TODAY