“Honoring Trailblazing Women Who Have Paved the Way for Future Generations” was the theme at Fort Bragg, March 28 as the Chief of Staff of U.S. Army Forces Command shared her insights on Army leadership as a woman and a general officer during an event sponsored by the XVIII Airborne Corps and the 525th Military Intelligence Brigade.
“We celebrate not only our Soldiers, but Women’s History Month … a fitting time to reflect on the historic commitment, sacrifice and achievement of our female Soldiers and Army civilians,” said Army Maj. Gen. Jody J. Daniels, FORSCOM chief of staff.
“These women — like all of our great Soldiers — have served our country with valor, beginning with Revolutionary War battlefields through today from the deserts of Iraq to the mountains, valleys of Afghanistan and around the globe.
“During this month, we recognize the triumphs and trials, the inspiration and determination of so many women who have made our Army what it is today: a shining beacon of freedom and opportunity, a place of equality and diversity,” Daniels said.
Daniels discussed the achievements and historic accomplishments of women in the U.S. Army, including her professional insights as an Army officer serving over three decades in the active Army and U.S. Army Reserve.
She is one of about 26 women generals in the U.S. Army, per the Army General Officer Management Office’s March 2017 statistics.
There are more than 170,000 women Soldiers in the U.S. Army, making up about 17 percent of the Total Army Force of more than 1 million Soldiers, according to Army personnel demographics.
“It’s no secret that women play a vital role in today’s Army,” Daniels said. “They are leaders all, officers and noncommissioned officers alike, standing with our troops; they are members of the United States Army Civilian Corps, as well as employers, spouses, mothers, sisters and daughters who are critical members of our Army team,” she said.
“Just like all of you, it’s their service, support and sacrifices that help ensure the freedom and liberty cherished by all Americans.”
As a Total Army Force leader herself, Daniels holds a B.S. in Applied Mathematics (Computer Science) from Carnegie Mellon University, a M.S. and Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Massachusetts (Amherst), and a M.S. in Strategic Studies from the U. S. Army War College.
Prior to arriving at Forces Command on Fort Bragg last year, Daniels was assigned as Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff G-2, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-2.
In her earlier civilian career, Daniels was the Director of Advanced Programs for Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Technology Laboratories; and was the Director of the Contextual Systems Laboratory.
Noting the upcoming centennial anniversary today of American involvement in World War I, Daniels discussed the “tremendous accomplishments of female ‘combatants’ in World War I, known as the ‘The Hello Girls.’”
They were “the first Army women … who served in France in response to U.S. Army Gen. John J. ‘Black Jack’ Pershing’s emergency appeal for more than 400 bi-lingual women telephone-switchboard operators,” she said.
Going further back in history, Daniels noted “things are a lot different today” than they were for Army veteran Deborah Sampson, known from 1782 to 1783 to her comrades in the Fourth Massachusetts Regiment of the Continental Army as “Robert Shurtlieff.”
“You see, Deborah Sampson was so committed to the cause of freedom … so devoted to serving in the Army … that she hid her gender, since women were not allowed to serve,” Daniels explained.
“She was wounded several times, but each time refused medical care, fearful that she would be discovered. It wasn’t until an outbreak of fever among troops in Philadelphia that a doctor finally did learn her secret, and her service with the Army came to an end.”
Massachusetts still honors her every year, on May 23, a day recognized across the Bay State as “Deborah Sampson Day,” Daniels said.
Women Soldiers recently have made many historic strides, from graduating from Ranger School to the appointment of the first black female Army surgeon general to the Department of Defense opening up all military occupational specialties to women. Recent trailblazing examples include:
Pfc. Katherine Beatty, who became the first female cannon crew member.
Maj. Gen. Linda Singh, the first woman and the first African-American to serve as adjutant general of the Maryland National Guard, took command of the Maryland National Guard.
Brig. Gen. Diana Holland was named the first female commandant of cadets at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York.
Capt. Kristen Griest and 1st Lt. Shaye L. Haver made history as the first women to earn the Ranger tab. The third woman to graduate Ranger School also made history, 37-year-old Maj. Lisa Jaster, an Army reservist who earned her Ranger tab, is a mother of two young children and an engineer with an oil company.
1st Sgt. Raquel Steckman of the U.S. Army Reserve became the first female first sergeant appointed to a combat engineer company.
“Those are just a few of the notable female Soldiers who keep pushing the limits and boundaries and smashing the glass ceilings,” Daniels said.
“They have reached heights their mothers, and grandmothers might only have imagined. But they are not alone. They stand on the shoulders of the pioneering women who came before and dedicated fellow Soldiers who serve alongside of them.
“For more than 240 years, women have truly affected the course of our wars and our peace, of our nation and our Army, Daniels said. “We thank them, we thank you, for your service and honor all women as our nation celebrates this year’s Women’s History Month.”
The Fort Bragg event was also sponsored by the Equal Opportunity/Special Ethnic Observance Committee and the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation.