When then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter formally opened the door for women to join Army combat arms units beginning in 2016, he noted that the transition wouldn’t happen overnight. But the transition has proved more difficult for the National Guard than the active-duty force. Ultimately, it took more than five years before the gender integration process was complete for any one of the Guard’s 54 states and territories. In April of this year, Vermont became the first state authorized to directly recruit women into all of its combat arms units, signaling its successful completion of the integration process, according to Wayne Hall, a National Guard Bureau spokesman. As of July, Vermont remains the only state with across-the-board authorization for women; other states and territories have only secured narrower authorizations specific to certain units. Army Times spoke with the state’s personnel directorate chief and two of the state’s first female leaders in combat arms and combat support units to chart how Vermont was the first state across the finish line. The primary challenge that the Guard has faced in fully opening its units to women has been the Army’s “leaders first” approach to the process, explained Col. Dana Tourangeau, the state’s personnel directorate chief. “This requirement mandated that each [company-sized unit] must first have [two] Female leaders” at the rank of sergeant or above assigned and formally qualified in the combat arms job before junior troops or new recruits could join the unit, Tourangeau told Army Times. Soldiers with the 1st Squadron, 172nd Cavalry Regiment, of the Vermont National Guard, stand in formation during a deployment ceremony, at Taylor Park, in St. Albans, Vt., May 11, 2021. The Soldiers say goodbye to family and friends as they leave for a deployment to U.S. Europe Command. (Sgt. 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The National Guard differs from the active-duty Army in that new soldiers are assigned directly into unit vacancies from the moment they sign their contracts, though they are attached to special holding units while they complete training. The “leader first” mandate was intended to foster healthier unit climates for junior enlisted women who would join later in the integration process, but it proved easier for the active-duty Army than the Guard. Soldiers switching to combat arms jobs — such as infantry and cavalry scout positions in Vermont — must attend weeks or months-long schools to qualify for the positions. For an active-duty soldier, reclassification means a temporary duty assignment to the training location. But for Guard members, reclassification means additional weeks or months away from their civilian employers on top of their existing training requirements, posing a potential barrier to entry for talented female leaders. play_circle_filled Nonetheless, Vermont fully opened a cavalry troop to women in March 2016, Tourangeau said, and the director of the Army National Guard certified that the state’s cavalry squadron and infantry battalion were fully open to women in April. Tourangeau explained that the process required more than just female volunteers. The units underwent gender integration training and tailored command climate surveys, as well as “months” of rigorous staff review by the National Guard Bureau, Tourangeau said. The Guard ultimately sped up the process across the force by relaxing the leaders-first requirement to stipulate that only one female leader be part of the unit, and that the woman could hold any position in the organization — not just a combat arms role. “We were able to methodically meet the requirements for each [unit],” one-by-one, said Tourangeau, who credited state senior leadership for helping pave the way. Soldiers move a Humvee during training with the Vermont Army National Guard at the Camp Ethan Allen in Jericho, Vt., Sept. 6, 2020. (Staff Sgt. Barbara Pendl/Army) “[Maj. Gen. Gregory] Knight, the state’s adjutant general, has always been a strong advocate of this initiative,” Tourangeau said. “His support and constant encouragement was critical to breaking down perceived barriers for women to move into these leader’s first positions.” Before his selection as the state’s commanding general, Knight served as the state G-1 — Tourangeau’s current role — overseeing the design and initial implementation of the state’s gender integration efforts. “This represents a significant milestone in making the Vermont National Guard an organization that provides opportunity for all,” said Knight in January when the state’s cavalry squadron completed the gender integration requirements. “I am incredibly proud of the Soldiers and senior leaders of our squadron.” “Our hope now is that more and more young women will see the National Guard as a viable career option,” Tourangeau said. “My message to young women considering enlisting into the Guard for combat arms is that if you can dream it, you can do it.” The women Two female leaders assigned to traditionally male-dominated career fields said they had appreciated and were motivated by the possibility of leading the way for other women. Sgt. Gloria Kamencik initially joined the Vermont National Guard as an ammunition specialist because she wasn’t allowed to serve as a cavalry scout. “I always knew I wanted to be a 19D, Cav Scout, but that wasn’t on the table at the time,” she explained in an email to Army Times from Kosovo, where she is currently deployed as a member of the state’s 172nd Public Affairs Detachment. Sgt. Gloria Kamencik and Sgt. Gillian McCreedy of the 172nd Public Affairs Detachment, 86th Troop Command, Vermont Army National Guard, pose for a photo while covering crowd and riot control training June 18, 2021, at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center at Camp Albertshof, Hohenfels, Germany. (Capt. Mikel Arcovitch/Army) When Kamencik learned she was eligible to reclassify to be a cavalry scout, she jumped at the opportunity. She joined 1st Squadron, 172nd Cavalry Regiment, and later finished her cavalry scout training in November 2018. Kamencik didn’t think about being her troop’s only woman until she arrived — she was just excited to be in her Army dream job. “[At first,] there were no other women…[and] there were individuals that were skeptical of me being there,” she said. “Once the thought of being the first female really sank in, it just added fuel to the fire to succeed. It gave me more reasons to ask about opportunities that would challenge me, request more responsibility and push myself further.” Ultimately, Kamencik said, “They became my family. I was never ‘the female’ in the Troop to them.” Another leader, 2nd Lt. Kathleen Ambrose, described her experience as “the beginning to a bright future for both women and for the National Guard.” Ambrose, who describes herself as “five feet tall and extremely competitive,” is currently deployed to Djibouti, Vermont Guard officials said. Since joining her engineer unit in 2017 as a cadet, Ambrose says the number of women there has doubled. And now she’s there as an officer. “Honestly, it’s about time,” said Ambrose of the state’s gender integration milestone. “I know the hard work is far from over.” Army data shows that more than three years into the integration effort, as of July 2019, only 368 women had been trained and assigned to previously closed National Guard combat arms or combat support units.
Green Beret dies during water training at Fort Campbell
A Special Forces soldier died during a water training event Tuesday at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, Army officials confirmed.The soldier, who was a National Guardsman assigned to the 19th Special Forces Group, went underwater during a surface swimming exercise and did not resurface, an Army official told Army Times.The soldier’s family has been notified, the official…
A Special Forces soldier died during a water training event Tuesday at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, Army officials confirmed.The soldier, who was a National Guardsman assigned to the 19th Special Forces Group, went underwater during a surface swimming exercise and did not resurface, an Army official told Army Times.The soldier’s family has been notified, the official said.The diver training was taking place at Fort Campbell’s Joe Swing Park Reservoir, according to a Fort Campbell release. A search began “immediately” and included personnel from installation emergency services, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and Montgomery County EMS, according to the release.RELATEDThe soldier’s remains were recovered on Wednesday morning, and the incident remains under investigation, the release added.The soldier is the second Green Beret to die during water training in recent months.Staff Sgt. Micah Walker, who was a member of 10th Special Forces Group, became unresponsive during a water treading exercise at the Army’s Special Forces Underwater Operations School on Naval Air Station Key West, in Florida. He died soon after.Walker’s death remains under investigation.Davis Winkie is a staff reporter covering the Army. He originally joined Military Times as a reporting intern in 2020. Before journalism, Davis worked as a military historian. He is also a human resources officer in the Army National Guard.
New Army aviation warrants no longer automatically promoted after two years
The Army has issued a directive that could add two years to the time required for aviator warrant officers to be promoted to chief warrant officer 2.The directive, AD 2021-31, was approved Sept. 10 and takes effect Oct. 1.The move is aimed at giving “aviation warrant officers more time for professional development at junior ranks,”…
The Army has issued a directive that could add two years to the time required for aviator warrant officers to be promoted to chief warrant officer 2.The directive, AD 2021-31, was approved Sept. 10 and takes effect Oct. 1.The move is aimed at giving “aviation warrant officers more time for professional development at junior ranks,” according to an Army release.Warrant officers are automatically promoted after two years serving as warrants, according to Army Regulation 600-8-29.But many aviation branch warrant officers are promoted to CWO2 within a few months of arriving at their units because of the lengthy time spent in flight school, according to the release.RELATEDThe directive means there’s no more automatic two-year promotion. The two-year clock will start when the warrant officer completes flight school and Warrant Officer Basic Course.The move will give them, “more time to learn and grow,” according to the release.The directive is specific to aviation warrant officers and does not apply to other branches, according to the release.Warrant officers of all kinds have been a hot commodity recently. The Army National Guard and Army Reserve were developing a policy this summer to bring back retired active duty warrant officers.The plan would allow those retired warrant officers to continue to draw their pensions while serving, and getting paid, in the Guard or Reserve, Army Times reported.Officials told Army Times in July that an estimated 600 warrant officers were slated to retire in the next 12 months. At the time, the Army Reserve was about 1,000 warrant officers short of its needs.The Guard had 2,333 warrant officer vacancies out of 10,234 authorized slots, officials said.Todd South has written about crime, courts, government and the military for multiple publications since 2004 and was named a 2014 Pulitzer finalist for a co-written project on witness intimidation. Todd is a Marine veteran of the Iraq War.
Former Air Force contractor sentenced for taking classified information
A former Air Force contractor was sentenced in federal court Tuesday for his role in taking an estimated 2,500 pages of classified information while working for the Air Force between 2016 and 2019.Izaak Vincent Kemp, 36, of Fairborn, Ohio, was charged in January and pleaded guilty in February to unauthorized removal and retention of classified…
A former Air Force contractor was sentenced in federal court Tuesday for his role in taking an estimated 2,500 pages of classified information while working for the Air Force between 2016 and 2019.Izaak Vincent Kemp, 36, of Fairborn, Ohio, was charged in January and pleaded guilty in February to unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents or material, according to a U.S. Attorney’s Office release.He was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Walter Rice to one year and one day in federal prison.RELATEDKemp worked as a contractor at the Air Force Research Laboratory from July 2016 to May 2019, according to court documents. After that he worked at the U.S. Air Force National Air and Space Intelligence Center. Both organizations are at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Fairborn, Ohio.Kemp had a top secret security clearance while employed with the Air Force.On May 25, 2019, the 36-year-old awoke to at least 10 agents in tactical gear in his house, with an armored vehicle outside and drones flying overhead, according to court documents.Those agents found more than 100 documents, containing an estimated 2,500 pages of material classified at the secret level, according to the release.“Despite having training on various occasions on how to safeguard classified material, Kemp took 112 classified documents and retained them at his home,” acting U.S. Attorney Vipal J. Patel’s Office said in a statement.Kemp’s attorney argued in the sentencing deliberations that his client didn’t take the documents to undermine national security, made no profit from taking the documents and did not share them with any “entity with adverse interests to the United States of America,” according to court documents.Todd South has written about crime, courts, government and the military for multiple publications since 2004 and was named a 2014 Pulitzer finalist for a co-written project on witness intimidation. Todd is a Marine veteran of the Iraq War.