National Guard stock

COLCHESTER — The 1st Squadron, 172nd Cavalry, 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Mountain), is now authorized to recruit women directly into the unit.

This marks the first time in the National Guard’s 384 year history that a combat arms battalion-sized unit can enlist women.

“I am incredibly proud of the soldiers and senior leaders of our squadron,” Maj. Gen. Greg Knight, adjutant general, Vermont National Guard, said. “This represents a significant milestone in making the Vermont National Guard an organization that provides opportunity for all. Their focus and hard work made this a reality.”

Since the Department of the Army opened combat roles to women in 2016, they could transfer, but not enlist into combat units until specific conditions were met. Requirements included installing women into leadership roles throughout the Squadron, completing Gender Integration Training and demonstrating a healthy unit culture through an Organizational Climate Survey.

“This was an extremely difficult process designed to ensure a unit was authorized to recruit women only after it demonstrated it was ready to do so,” Col. Brey Hopkins, commander, 86th IBCT (MTN), said. “But despite the difficulty, we were committed to this. We are eager to integrate more women throughout the unit because it improves our readiness and capability.”

Women could not serve in occupational specialties designated as combat roles prior to 2016.

The Vermont Army National Guard continues to make progress toward seeking authorization to open all combat units for the enlistment of women as soon as possible.

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