The Army has been slowly integrating women into ground combat units since the Defense Department opened all military jobs to all troops in 2015. The initiative garnered a good deal of media attention for female “firsts” throughout the force. Now, five years later, women have expanded their footprint in combat arms and are taking command of units that have been exclusively male for centuries.
Capt. Candice Bowen took command of Bravo Company, 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, last month. She is one of the first black women to take command of a rifle company in the National Guard and the first female infantry commander in Virginia. The company’s history traces back to Confederate general Stonewall Jackson’s brigade.
“I think in general people have their own perceptions of what a female officer is going to be. It’s ‘Maybe women shouldn’t be in combat arms,’ but at the end of the day, a capable soldier is a capable soldier,” Bowen said. “The Army is changing, it’s evolving, it’s growing, we’re making sure we have the best people for the job. That’s it. As long as the standards don’t change, let the best person compete.”
Read the full story and more from Stars and Stripes.