General Laura Richardson, Commander, U.S. Southern Command

General Laura Richardson

Commander, U.S. Southern Command

Laura Jane Richardson was born in December 1963 in Kansas City, Missouri. She earned a B.S. in psychology from Metropolitan State College in Denver, and was commissioned into the United States Army through the Army Reserve Officers’ Training program. She was an All-American swimmer and earned her pilot’s license at the age of 16. She earned a M.S. from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces at Fort McNair. 

She flew Sikorsky UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters, and worked her way through the ranks of the Army. She served in South Korea, and was also deployed in both the Iraq War and War in Afghanistan. She served as chief of the United States Senate liaison division for the Secretary of the Army. 

In 2017, Richardson became deputy commander of United States Army Forces Command, serving there two years until her assumption of the command of U.S. Army North. 

In March 2021, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced Richardson’s nomination to be commander of the United States Southern Command. She was confirmed by a unanimous voice vote of the Senate and received her command in October 2021. 

She is married to Lieutenant General James M. Richardson and they have one daughter. 

In the News…

Despite disparities in political leaderships, General Laura Richardson, the new commander of U.S. Southern Command, said she is placing her focus on strengthening relationships on a military level with nations in South America. 

While the politics between the U.S. and South American countries might not be what “we would want… the military relationships are really strong,” she said. 

At the change of command ceremony in October, representatives of 23 countries attended when she was officially installed to her position. 

“That was really tremendous to have that many come and represent because they want to partner with us,” she said. “They want to do the exercises. They want to work with us as much as possible.” 


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