N.Y. Army Guard welcomes first female Armor officer

Army.mil
October 15, 2019 - 2:50 pm
Army 2nd. Lt. Jessica Reed

DVIDS

Story by Tech. Sgt. Ryan Campbell

LATHAM, N.Y., (Oct. 15, 2019) – Army 2nd. Lt. Jessica Reed has made history by becoming the New York Army National Guard’s first female armor officer after graduating from the Armor Basic Officer Leadership Course at Fort Benning, Georgia, on June 4, 2019.

Reed, who is from Salamanca, is assigned to Bravo Troop, 2nd Squadron, 101st Cavalry Regiment in Jamestown, and is training to become a platoon leader. That position will see her commanding upwards of 25 Soldiers plus assigned Humvee vehicles.

One of the first tasks once back from armor school was two weeks of annual training at Fort Drum, her first time doing field exercises with bravo troop.

“It was a great experience,” said Reed. “I was thankful to be back in time to go so I could spend time with my guys and see how they work as a team and learn from each of them what their jobs and what each one entailed.”

Those two weeks of field training included reconnaissance training, getting hands-on with various weapons systems and training on dismounted operations.

"2nd Lt. Reeds work has so far been nothing short of outstanding," said Capt. Jeffrey Phillips, commander of bravo troop. "She is an intelligent junior officer with a strong desire to learn her profession and improves each and every month."

It all started when she enlisted in August of 2017, and Reed explained that she focused on being an officer after having considered the idea of joining the Army National Guard for several years. After the required interview process, she shipped out to basic training and then to Officer Candidate School.

“I went in with the intention of kind of shopping around, I didn’t even know that officer was something that I could do,” said Reed.

Capt. Jared Kausner, the officer strength manager that Reed worked with during the process, was able to explain first-hand what it is like to be an armor officer and what the benefits are. 

“A lot of it was just hearing him talk about how he loved what he did, so he kind of sold that to me,” said Reed. “Hearing how excited he was about it was more what I was looking for, something drastically different from what I do in everyday life.”

“She immediately impressed me as someone who had officer potential,” said Kausner. “She had come prepared for the interview, displayed maturity, asked thought out questions and displayed an air of confidence.”

Kausner explained to Reed that the 101st Cavalry had leadership positions for armor officers and once she did more research on her own, Reed came back asking to branch armor.

“Based on her leadership traits and potential, I knew she would do well as an armor officer,” said Kausner. “All Army branches are now open to women to serve, in New York this opens up opportunities in 14 infantry and cavalry units.

“The Army has a ‘leaders first’ policy in which these units must have at least two female officers or non-commissioned officers present before female enlisted Soldiers may be assigned. Having leaders such as Reed filling these spots will help us open the door towards bringing more women into infantry and cavalry roles.”

Reed explained that she was more excited than nervous at the idea of doing something that females had previously not been allowed to do in the Army. The excitement was also shared by many of her family and friends who were happy to see her go after such an opportunity, she added.

“Some of my friends and family were a little nervous which is understandable,” said Reed. “But a lot of them were very, very excited, especially my dad. It was better received than I was expecting.”

After basic training, Reed graduated from Officer Candidate School in July of 2018. She drilled with bravo troop for a few months to observe the day to day operations of the unit before being sent to armor school in January of 2019.

“It was amazing, it was probably the most fun I’ve ever had,” said Reed. “The biggest learning curve though is you go down there and you don’t know anything about the concept of tanks, but it was amazing to go in not knowing anything and seeing week by week how much you are learning, so it was certainly very difficult but very fun.”

January also marked three years since the Army opened up to females the fields of armor, field artillery, infantry and special operations jobs for the first time. Going into 2019, more than 1,000 females were already serving in these fields across the Army, according to the Army’s deputy chief of staff for personnel.

Asked if women are treated differently, Reed said no.

“People are going to think that. I could see where people were getting, maybe nervous, with having females coming in but I didn’t experience anything like that. People always get nervous when there is a change,” she said.

As a new armor officer, Reed began the process of learning to be a platoon leader by shadowing another lieutenant in bravo troop. This allowed her to learn unit operations, tasks, responsibilities and logistics that will come with the position, a routine that Reed said she is adapting to easily.

"While at annual training she shadowed another platoon leader during situational training exercise lanes to gain a better understanding of the cavalry mission,” said Phillips, “and also was the officer-in-charge of the M240 machine gun and Improved Target Acquisition System range during squadron gunnery."

Now at age 34, Reed said that the Army National Guard is going to be her career, with no intentions of leaving armor.

“I don’t think I’ll ever leave the armor branch,” said Reed. “It’s amazing. With we can do, it’s an exciting branch to be part of.”

Making further accomplishments, the unit held a “spur ride” where Soldiers set out to complete a series of cavalry related tasks in order to get their silver spurs. After successful completion, the Soldier is inducted into the Order of the Spur and are authorized to wear their spurs at all cavalry functions.

"Lt. Reed volunteers to assist for almost every training event either within the squadron or outside of drill," said Phillips. "She was selected to attend the 2-101 cavalry spur ride which she completed and also attended the Small Arms Weapons Expert course at Fort Drum in September as the officer-in-charge for the range."

Looking back on her decision to join, Reed said she hadn’t considered the fact that she was making history for New York Army National Guard when she joined. Instead, she saw herself doing something she liked to do.

“I didn’t look at it like that,” said Reed. “I definitely think it’s amazing, I definitely think for other women out there that you can do anything you want. I look at it as I’m just another person doing my job and I love my job.”

Reed said that she is looking forward to more training and becoming more involved with bravo troop, training which will keep her and her Soldiers ready for combat should they ever be needed.

“It’s what we signed up for,” said Reed. “We are here to make a difference.”

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