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.

Actually, Dunwoody is a General; “Lt. Gen.” is the way civilians and Air Force types (but I repeat myself) abbreviate the three-star rank of Lieutenant General.

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?

FILED UNDER: Gender Issues, Military Affairs,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. steve says:

    “Actually, Dunwoody is a General; “Lt. Gen.” is the way civilians and Air Force types (but I repeat myself)”

    LOL. You and Dave take funny pills this morning?

    To your larger point, yes. In the ongoing debate about intelligence and the conservative (some conservatives) position that blacks are too stupid to achieve, largely based on Murray’s book, the military has a model which undercuts the argument. Real achievement is based on many qualities besides intelligence, including discipline, empathy and ambition. The threshold effect is probably what is important, ie, one needs a certain minimal level for some jobs, rather than the highest intelligence test score being the best indicator.

    Steve

  2. James Joyner says:

    In the ongoing debate about intelligence and the conservative (some conservatives) position that blacks are too stupid to achieve, largely based on Murray’s book, the military has a model which undercuts the argument.

    All Murray and Hernstein say is that there are aggregate differences in IQ that may impact aggregate results. There’s no claim whatsoever in the book that there aren’t lots of outstanding individuals in all groups.

  3. Triumph says:

    Real achievement is based on many qualities besides intelligence, including discipline, empathy and ambition. The threshold effect is probably what is important, ie, one needs a certain minimal level for some jobs, rather than the highest intelligence test score being the best indicator.

    Yes. Let us remember that this broad is the head drill sergeant. You are basically yelling at people , making them do pushups, and have them run 10 miles in the rain.

    It ain’t rocket science.

  4. DC Loser says:

    Actually “Lt Gen” is the Air Force way of abbreviating the rank. The Army uses “LTG.”

  5. Boyd says:

    Have we finally gotten to the point where it’s no longer news that the military has blacks in leadership positions?

    I got there in 1974, when my boot camp Company Commander was black. Even as a Texan (horrors!), it made no difference to me. All Company Commanders were assholes whose sole purpose in life was to make us miserable, regardless of race, color, religion, geographical origins or anything else. We were all recruits, and therefore scum.

    The (enlisted, can’t speak for officers) military, and the Air Force, too, have been race-blind meritocracies for decades. Women are fast approaching the same status.

  6. DavidL says:

    Shucks, the military must has softened since my basic, USAF, Lackland. 1969. TI’s were assholes. Officers were God.

    As to “The Bell Curve”, a bell curve only applies to populations, not to individuals.

  7. DC Loser says:

    Officers were God.

    Even second lieutenants. Sometime in the early 80s, I was a newly minted butterbar and arrived at my technical school assignment after OTS. I wasn’t very familiar with the new base and bumbled into the base theater where I opened a door and poked my head into it. I heard someone called the entire theater to attention and then I realized they were referring to me. Apparently it was full of new students just out of basic training. I remember the stories of officers getting salutes from basic training students at Lackland from across parade fields.

  8. steve says:

    Boyd-Boot camp in 1972 for me. We had several race riots, requiring the MP’s to come to the barracks and break them up. Had a couple of guys end up in the hospital when they started using those drill M-1’s (?) on each other.

    Steve

  9. steve says:

    “All Murray and Hernstein say is that there are aggregate differences in IQ that may impact aggregate results. There’s no claim whatsoever in the book that there aren’t lots of outstanding individuals in all groups.”

    IMHO, there book should just be seen as a starting point, but it is often used as a crude tool against blacks. There has since been lots of research looking at what actually leads to success. Intelligence is only one factor. This does not even address the methods used by Murray to measure IQ, since IQ testing is an area of considerable debate in itself.

    Steve

  10. DavidL says:

    IMHO, there book should just be seen as a starting point, but it is often used as a crude tool against blacks. There has since been lots of research looking at what actually leads to success. Intelligence is only one factor. This does not even address the methods used by Murray to measure IQ, since IQ testing is an area of considerable debate in itself.

    How many who are utterly offended by what they think Charles Murray and Richard Herrstein wrote have ever read “The Bell Curve?” Over/under three.

    Cognitive intelligence is thought to between thirty to seventy percent nature or nurture, either way.

    Total cognitive intelligence has never been defined, and what has not been defined, can not be measured. Yet IQ does measure some unknown part of cognitive intelligence. IQ has predictive validity. That is it does measure future performance. Higher IQ does correlate with increased probability of success. Thus IQ, while an imperfect measure, is important.

    The difference between the mean IQ of the white, black and yellow populations, is non-trivial. Say if it takes a minimum IQ of say 110, pass a bar examination, it stands to reason that a greater proportion of yellows will exceed the minimum than whites, and ditto for whites as compared to blacks.

    This is not to say that a black can not excell as lawyer, but rather proportionally more yellows and whites will.

    In a non-racist world, non-portionality would be accepted as normal and not as evidence of invidious discrimination. Alas.