Combat Arms Branch receives their first female Soldier

Story by 1st Lt. Gus Lafontaine, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

2LT Stephanie Scott

2nd Lt. Stephanie Scott (right) and Warrant Officer Melissa Propes, both of 1st Battalion, 623rd Field Artillery, pause during training at Wendell H. Ford Regional training Center in Greenville, Ky., July, 2012. (Courtesy photo)

FRANKFORT, Ky. — There is no doubt that during 1st Lt. Stephanie Scott’s three-year career in the Kentucky Army National Guard she has been exposed to her fair share of acronyms.   However, one acronym will place the trajectory of her career on a new path, WITA.  Women in the Army, is a Department of Defense program that ensures greater opportunities and equal access to women serving in the Armed Forces.  WITA is a 2012 initiative that was implemented as a response to the Direct Ground Combat Assignment Rule (DGCAR).  DGCAR states that women cannot serve in units below brigade level whose primary mission is to engage in direct combat on the ground.That changed in May 2012.  An exception to policy was issued allowing female Soldiers the opportunity to serve in a number of new jobs within the United States Army.

For Scott, this meant she was welcome to pursue a Guard career in Field Artillery.  She had been serving in a support capacity as a Platoon Leader with the 203rd Forward Support Company in Elizabethtown. With the implementation of WITA, she was able to strike out on a new endeavor.  She immediately chased the opportunity to serve with the Red Legs.

“Ten years of war had given females an opportunity to blaze a trail,” said Scott.  “I asked myself, why not?  I absolutely love working for this organization.”

Maj. John Holmes, Executive Officer of 1st Battalion 623rd HIMARS, remembers a conversation he had with Scott.

“She came up to me and said, ‘I’m going to be the first female Field Artillery Officer in the Battalion!”

Her command took notice.  Holmes remarked, “we started grooming her in anticipation of circumstances changing.  We wanted to leverage her drive and determination.”

2LT Scott at MEPS

2nd Lt. Stephanie Scott administers an oath to her newly recruited younger brother at the Military Entrance Processing Station in Louisville, Ky., June 19, 2012. (Courtesy photo)

With the exception to policy in place, Scott didn’t waste any time getting to work.  She has already begun her distance-learning course for Captain’s Career Course in the Field Artillery branch.  Frank C. Lester of the U.S. Army’s Fires Center of Excellence in Fort Sill, Okla. acknowledged the rarity of Scott’s pursuit of becoming branch qualified in Field Artillery.“I have been at the Field Artillery school since 2002 and I have only seen one other female Soldier from the Reserve component come through our school.  This is certainly an achievement.”

Scott recognizes the opening she has.  “An opportunity comes along like this and it allows you to pave the way for other females.  This will be an opportunity to start exposing females to Field Artillery.”

She plans on taking advantage of this opportunity for the foreseeable future.

“There is enough to learn in Field Artillery that I can be there for a long time.”

In November the Army plans to review the exception to policy that allows females to serve in expanded roles in hopes of identifying areas to improve the implementation of policy.  Until then, Scott will serve in the 1st Battalion, 623rd Headquarters Detachment.  Despite a time of great advancement in the United States Army and a transformation in her own career, it is clear to Scott that some things haven’t changed.

“Everyone is a constant professional, nothing has changed.  These are some of the most professional people I have ever worked with.”

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