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Army general is nation's first four-star woman

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  • Lt. Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody promoted to lead Army Materiel Command
  • Dunwoody is 33-year veteran of Army
  • Dunwoody to have 133,000 personnel under her command
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- An Army lieutenant general has become the first woman in U.S. military history to get four stars.

Dunwoody, left, sits with one of her classmates at Fort McClellan, Alabama, in 1975.

Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody will command 133,000 personnel worldwide in the Army Material Command.

The military on Friday promoted Lt. Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody, who has served in several command positions in her 33-year Army career.

She will command Army Materiel Command, responsible for equipping, arming and outfitting soldiers.

"There is no one more surprised than I," she said of her promotion at a ceremony on Friday. Video Watch: Gen. Dunwoody 'a beacon' for women »

She had planned on a two-year enlistment upon leaving college, she said, and planned on being a physical education teacher.

Dunwoody, 55, hailed those who had helped her throughout her career and pledged to do the same for those she now leads.

"The Army nurtured me and mentored me, and today the Army offers me the chance to return the favor," she said. She'll command 133,000 personnel around the globe.

"She is recognized as one of the foremost military logisticians in her generation," said Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Dunwoody, a native of New York, was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1975 after her graduation from the State University of New York in Cortland. She also holds graduate degrees in national resource strategy and logistics management.

She became the Army's top-ranking woman in 2005 when she received her third star and became deputy chief of staff for Army logistics.

Her promotion highlights the growing role of women in the U.S. military over the years.

Fifty-seven active-duty women and 47 female reservists hold the rank of general or its Navy equivalent, according to the American Forces Press Service.

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The Pentagon has said that more than 193,400 women have deployed in support of U.S. operations since September 11, 2001 -- the day the United States was attacked by al Qaeda.

Dunwoody was nominated by President Bush for her fourth star in June. The nomination then went to the Senate for confirmation.

All About U.S. Army ActivitiesRobert Gates

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