CSM Teresa King Army’s Top Drill Sergeant
CSM Teresa King has been selected to head the Army’s Drill Sergeants School, becoming the first woman in that prestigious slot.
“This is a male-centric part of the Army,” says Sergeant Major King, noting that her appointment “shows that the Army is emerging and … they don’t have any reservations about putting the right person where they need to be.”
Women have made major inroads into Army leadership since ranks opened in 1976, but top ranks remain partly barred. The Army has 57 women serving as commanders or generals, representing about 5 percent of the commander corps. But the overall percentage of female officers — 15 percent — exceeds the percentage of women in the active-duty ranks, 14 percent.
Most gains have come in the rear echelon, ranging from public relations to human resources — primarily because women are banned from combat positions. The first female four-star general, Lt. Gen. Ann Dunwoody, for example, heads the Army’s materiel command.
King acknowledges that the drill sergeant appointment is a special case, representative of the toughest glass ceiling to break: the tight-knit world of the infantry soldier.
Uh, no. Every branch has drill sergeants; the vast majority of drill sergeants are not infantrymen.
King was among the first female recruits to train alongside men when she joined the Army out of high school, in 1980. She began her career as a postal clerk in Germany, spent two years as a drill sergeant, and later joined the Pentagon, hand-picked by then Defense Secretary Dick Cheney.
Her first major leadership test came on 9/11, when she served as first sergeant of the 18th Airborne Corps’ headquarters company, responsible for 500 infantrymen, 22 sergeant majors, four colonels, and a slew of other officers. “They didn’t care if I was a female,” she says. “When I told them to move out, they did.”
That’s an incredibly misleading paragraph. The HHC may be “responsible” for those officers, in a service support sense, but neither its First Sergeant nor its CO “tells” colonels to “move out” in anything but the administrative sense of letting them know what the schedule is. (I was briefly the XO of an equivalent unit in my artillery battalion.)
Despite her years of experience, King says she was “amazed” when tapped to lead the school, saying she never thought it was an option. She says Fort Jackson’s commander, Brig. Gen. Bradley May, risked ruffling feathers in appointing a woman to the prestigious role. “More doors are opening in the Army,” says King. “It’s like I’ve always been saying: If you hold people to standards and enforce them and know there are no impossibilities, all things are possible unto you.”
This is indeed a major development and the breaking of a glass ceiling. It is not, however, a sign that the combat arms are about to go co-ed.
Nearly as noteworthy: Not once did the article mention that King is black. Have we finally gotten to the point where it’s no longer news that the military has blacks in leadership positions?