Fort Hood Army sergeant first woman to become a cavalry scout

Even if you’re the type who rejoices at the prospect of women in combat, there are some anomalies that make my nose twitch.  WFAA 8 Dallas reports that Sergeant Kayci Landes has graduated as the Army’s first female cavalry scout, which is Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) code 19D.

As a newly graduated Cavalry scout, not only was she breaking ground on a new responsibility in the Armed Forces but she was also breaking down barriers, and stepping into territory no woman has been before.

Sergeant Landes was the first woman in the nation’s history to graduate as a 19D Cavalry Scout, an accomplishment she said has dreamed of since she was a little girl.  (snip)

Her instructor, Sergeant Stephen Conwill said her drive is what led her to where she is today.

“She was very motivated throughout the course and eager to learn all the tasks that we put in front of her,” Conwill said.

The thing is, the MOS-producing school for scouts is at Fort Benning, Georgia, not Fort Hood.  For example, the Army Times reported on December 1 that 13 women successfully passed the Armor Officers Basic Course, which officially gave them the MOS of an Armor Officer.  For or against women in combat, this is how it should be done.

According to the Killeen Daily Herald, back in May, Landes was at Joint Base Lewis-McChord as an Apache attack helicopter mechanic.  While there, she was allowed to re-enlist with the “option” of going into the 19D field.  Further, Landes “expects to be assigned to Fort Hood after her advanced individual training, according to an interview she conducted with Army Times.”

Soldiers are re-classified routinely, depending on the needs of the service and the soldier’s preferences, but reclassifying from an attack helicopter mechanic to a scout “as an option” would require some extensive retraining.  (I can’t believe that the attack helicopter squadron would be willing to lose an experienced mechanic, but that’s just me.)  If Sgt. Landes graduated from Fort Benning, then with as much emphasis that DoD is putting on women in combat, we should have heard about this before.

Historically, cavalry units have had troopers go through additional training and competition in order to earn their spurs with the unit, but in my experience, all of them already held the 19D MOS after having completed the training at the Armor School.  Apparently, Landes completed her advanced individual training for 19D at Fort Hood using a unit training program.  Did the Armor School at Fort Benning certify the unit at Fort Hood to grant a 19D MOS?  I also wonder why there was no publicity when she entered the training.

The women in combat issue likely tops the to-do list of incoming SecDef Mattis.  Even if the timing of all this is suspicious, once soldiers have been given training and passed requirements (if valid), it’s hard to put their motivations and aspirations at risk.  But as the old saying goes, “for the good of the service” should dictate DoD policy decisions.  An option would be to grandfather those already in the combat arms and audit the women in the pipeline until the leadership revisits the issue.  And be prepared for the usual caterwauling from the Beltway womyn.

John Smith is the pen name of a retired U.S. intelligence officer.