ARLINGTON, Va. — The Army announced Monday that President Bush has nominated Lt. Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody as the first female four-star general in U.S. history.

If confirmed by Congress, Dunwoody, who now serves as deputy commanding general of the U.S. Army Materiel Command at Fort Belvoir, Va., would also become commanding general of Material Command, according to the Army.

Approximately 5 percent of general officers in the Army are women, which includes mobilized Army Reserve and Army National Guard general officers, according to Army records.

Federal law dictates the maximum number of officers of each rank the military services are allowed to have on duty at any given time.

Today’s Army is allotted 11 active-duty generals, including Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey.

None of the U.S. armed services has ever had a four-star femaleofficer although all have had three-star female leaders, spokesmen for those services confirmed to Stars and Stripes on Tuesday.

The military currently has 57 female generals and admirals, five of whom have three stars.

Dunwoody has long been seen as the most likely female candidate to achieve a fourth star.

Retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Wilma L. Vaught, who oversees the women’s memorial at Arlington National Cemetery, said Dunwoody had served in a series of high-profile jobs within the Army and the Pentagon that made her a leading candidate.

Vaught noted that Dunwoody’s career field also made her a front-runner. Along with the medical corps, the logistics field has among the highest numbers of female officers in the Army.

"This is a very significant event," Vaught said.

One reason for the dearth of women at the very top is the legal exclusion of females from combat positions, which also eliminates them from leadership of many of the services’ top commands.

The combat exclusion leaves the highest-ranking women generals to serve — or have served — exclusively in combat support positions such as intelligence, or combat service support, such as logistics.

And logistics is Dunwoody’s specialty: When she took her current, No. 2 spot at Material Command from retiring Lt. Gen. William E. Mortensen on June 17, she was the first woman ever to hold that job, as well.

Dunwoody came to that post from the Army’s Pentagon headquarters, where she was deputy chief of staff of the Army’s G-4, or logistics directorate.

Previously, she had commanded the U.S. Army Combined Arms Support Command and Fort Lee, Va. and the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, Scott Air Force Base, Ill. She has also commanded the 407th Supply and Transportation Battalion of the 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.; the 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) Support Command, Fort Drum, N.Y.; and the 1st Corps Support Command (Airborne), Fort Bragg, N.C.

The current Material Command commander, Gen. Benjamin S. Griffin, plans to retire, Army spokeswoman Lt. Col. Anne Edgecomb told Stripes.

Following protocol, Dunwoody is declining additional media requests for interview until the Senate has acted on her nomination, Edgecomb told Stripes. That hearing has not been scheduled.

But in Monday’s Army announcement, Dunwoody said she was "very honored but also very humbled" by the announcement.

The nomination, she said, "only reaffirms what I have known to be true about the military throughout my career ... that the doors continue to open for men and women in uniform."

The Los Angeles Times contributed to this report.

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