American Morning

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October 20th, 2009
06:15 AM ET

First female commander of Army Drill Sgt. School

By Julie O’Neill
CNN

431 hours. 9 weeks. 10 hour days. That’s just the tip of the iceberg for soldiers at the U.S. Army’s Drill Sergeant School in Fort Jackson, South Carolina. For the first time since its inception in 1964, its top dog does not look or act like a typical drill sergeant.

Command Sergeant Major Teresa King is the first woman commandant at the U.S. Army's Drill Sergeant School in Fort Jackson, South Carolina.

Command Sergeant Major Teresa King is the first woman commandant at the U.S. Army's Drill Sergeant School in Fort Jackson, South Carolina.

Her name is Command Sergeant Major Teresa King and she’s the first woman commandant of this school. Incredibly fit, 48-years-old and a 29-year Army vet, King oversees 78 drill instructors and is responsible for training every Army drill sergeant. Nearly 2,000 sergeants graduate from the drill sergeant school each year.

King says the program's rigorous nature isn’t to be take lightly. “It is very horrendous day after day to come out here and demonstrate the same level of competence and willingness. To take on this mission – it's very tough.”

Most of the school’s students are hand-picked sergeants, who average 10 to 15 years in the Army before entering this grueling course. According to King, only a small percentage of students don’t have what it takes to finish. And King should know – she went through it early on in her career.

Watch King in action Video

Teresa King grew up in rural North Carolina. “I thought about college for about an hour,” she says. As a teenager, she spent time at nearby Ft. Bragg. On one particular day, it was there that she found direction. “I saw a woman in a red beret. We looked at each other … and didn’t speak. But at that moment, I knew I would be a soldier.” That’s all it took. Her future was solidified. King enlisted on August 19, 1980 and left for basic training the next day.

She worked her way up the Army ranks. Her first “first” came in 1997 – becoming the first female First Sergeant for the 18th Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg, NC. Since then, her career has taken her across the globe: to Europe, Korea, the Pentagon and most recently NATO headquarters. However, King has never been in combat, and, in fact, has never been deployed to a war zone.

Only a few months ago King thought about retiring. That is until the Army came knocking once again. “I was very, very shocked. I considered a lot of jobs, but being the commandant of the drill sergeant school, I had never considered it.”

King had a lingering determination to help usher the Army into its next phase. “I believe I can cause people to do some things that they thought they could never do.”

Commandant King took the helm of the drill sergeant school last month, but insists there is no added pressure because she’s the first woman to take on this role. “I'm doing what I've always done. It's just now; people are paying attention to it.”

Soldiers at Fort Jackson are also quick to point out that her ability to get and perform this job has nothing to do with her gender. King’s Deputy Commandant Robert Maggard says, “She’s a soldier, Command Sgt. Maj. She's got more experience in training than most of the commissioned officers that I know.”

From the daily physical training to the simulation exercises, King tries to lead by example. “I believe if I am going to ask somebody to do something I need to be able to do it myself. You know as leaders we got to be able to walk the walk, you know rather than just talk the talk,” says King.

Her efforts don’t go unnoticed by her drill sergeant leaders. Sgt. First Class James Hughes says, “Rather than just go out there and tell the sergeants “Hey, go out here run to the top of the hill, five and half miles”, and go back in your office, no. She gets out there and runs with us, it’s good for us.” Sgt. First Class Michael Childs adds, “There’s a lot of motivation for the younger guys. If they fall out, and she's still running, that's – I mean that's personal. You feel kind of bad. You fell out. You, 19 – 25-years-old, and she's still pushing hard.”

King’s appointment does mark another toppled barrier for women in the male-dominated military world. Of the nearly 550,000 active-duty Army soldiers, women only represent about 14%.

Despite the minimal emphasis put on her milestone by both King and her comrades, it does represent the changing face, direction and attitude of the Army towards women.

Operations Sergeant Angela Andrews has known King for 8 years and believes this is just the beginning. “I wouldn't say it opens the door, but it may you know crack it somewhat.”

But, the Army still has a long way to go. Only 9.6 % of the Army’s top three enlisted positions are held by females and Department of Defense policy does not allow women to join front-line, direct-combat units.

The fact that King is a woman doesn’t define her or her career. She idolizes General George Patton. “Here is this very firm man, who in my opinion is eight feet tall and bullet proof. You would think that he had a lot of ego, but no. He goes from one extreme to another in doing what he had to do. I admire that of him.”

And her focus remains reshaping the Army. “I'm growing myself in the army. See I'm duplicating myself. I'm growing first sergeants and first sergeant majors. So I'm building them at their youth so they will go into the Army and then in 10 years they will be running the Army.”

In the day we spent with Command Sergeant Major Teresa King, there are several things that are indisputable. She’s tenacious, compelling, intense, athletic, driven and loud. But, beneath that tough-as-nails exterior, King is also thoughtful, approachable and like most other American women; she enjoys spending down time with friends and looks forward to her bi-weekly manicure/pedicure.

This is a woman who cherishes her Army family and looks forward to seeing what the future holds. “As long as the Army needs me I’ll be here and as long as there are soldiers that need that leadership I’ll be here. It’s about selfless service now. It’s not about me. It’s about that sergeant who needs to see a leader who will encourage them and support them and provide that example for them. I believe that I am in a good position to do that now so I'll stay a little longer.”


Filed under: Military
soundoff (65 Responses)
  1. Retired CMS Joe Rod White - 1970

    I am so proud of CMS Teresa King and would like the opportunity to go out to Ft Jackson and meet her face to face. I live in Columbia SC and go on the base at least once a month. Can you get this message to her and I would appreciate an answer if possible. Thanks

    February 1, 2010 at 9:26 pm |
  2. Carl Lanzilli

    I am a US Army Vietnam Veteran (infantry). The DI's I has in Basic Traning and AIT were also and some were Korean War Vets. They were tough, but I had respect for them because they could do what they were teaching us to do. I cannot see how it's possible for a soldier today to respect a female DI who doesn't have the physical ability to do what she is demanding them to do. As far as the idea of women in combat is concerned, this is politically- correct nonsense. A person in combat needs upper body strength to lift heavy objects like artillery shells, boxes of hand greandes, bags of sand for protection , wounded comrades ect., never mind carrying heavy equipment all day and fighting hand to hand with the enemy.There is and old military saying:" Uncle Sam hires you from the neck down".

    January 20, 2010 at 12:56 pm |
  3. mrdeez

    Here goes the Army being correct again. What a joke...in since 1980 and NO deployments????? I served with many women MP'S in Iraq 2004-2005. She got a cushy Pentagon gig and ducked Desert Storm,OEF,OIF...oh and other ops Somalia,Bosnia,Haiti,Kosovo.....oh lest we forget Grenada and Panama? Many women served in all of the following ops whether they were peackeeping missions or not-NATO or UN missions.If this were a man w/no deployments he would have never been considered. What a crock. No wonder she's so fit...plenty of time to do PT ducking deployments.

    January 20, 2010 at 12:25 am |
  4. Throwing it out there

    For those of you folks that think deployments is where you get your leadership abilities, you are absolutely wrong!!!!! I have had the opportunity to be part of the top 1% of the Drill Sergeant community, a DSL. I am a veteran of three combat deployments i earned a CIB, ARCOM w/V device, BSM and have probably spent more time behind a sniper scope than you have been wiping your rear end. Our Army is Losing it's Discipline!!!!, that which general Washington said was our lifeblood. Because of all these deployments our new soldiers are not learning the basics, how to follow orders, how to properly wear their uniform, how to address NCO's and officers. These are the foundation upon a great disciplined Army is built on. We as combat veterans are failing our new soldiers in this area. They NEED THE BASICS......... CRAWL, WALK then RUN

    December 12, 2009 at 12:44 am |
  5. melissa

    As a female Drill Sergeant, I say thank you to CSM King. We need more women out there to lead our future young women. Too many young girls are falling to the waste side. This is a good example that no matter how old you are, your gender, or race anything can happen. i have deployed 2 times and it hasn't made me a better Soldier. What has made me a better Soldier is the brave women before me that held the standard.

    November 27, 2009 at 2:57 pm |
  6. The Truth

    I have to offer CSM King an apology. After working with her for the past month i have learned that she is an outstanding caring leader. She is still as tough as they come but she is also approachable and as a leader thats one of the greatest compliments you can get. Also with that being said i know now that she is not the problem with the Drill Sergeant School Cadre and Staff's moral. I give all the credit to this problem to her so called"XO" she has single handedly turned the entire Drill Sergeant School into a shell of the happy place that it once was. So far the only mistake i see that CSM King has done, was to bring MSG Andrews onboard as her "XO". note to MSG Andrews, you need to practice what you preach and try being a leader who actually leads by example and not by your rank alone. You actually need to retire and do the Army a big favor by saving money instead of wasting it on your salary.

    November 21, 2009 at 12:22 am |
  7. 7yr Marine Corps Vet

    I spent 5 years state-side and my last 2 in Japan. I got orders to a deploying unit and was transferred to the station unit as soon as I arrived. I BEGGED to go to Iraq on numerous occasions and it seemed as if my begging hindered my efforts even further.

    Undoubtedly, SgtMaj King was herself instructed by some of the best and her appointment obviously reflects her experience in the field of training Drill Sgt's and Soldiers, not patrolling or sitting in a tent. A deployment hardly makes you more qualified at all of the intricacies of teaching solid, basic Soldiers knowledge. I could see how the CSM of SEER school or one of the many Recon/Scout Sniper training units would benefit from being in a FOB, but this is absurd and not applicable.

    Kudos, SgtMaj King! You are clearly one of the best at what you do and like more military men AND women should, you have been recognized and rewarded for such!

    November 4, 2009 at 4:31 pm |
  8. Instructor

    For the past two years I have worked with CSM King and I respect her no matter where she has been. It bothers me that people are concerned about her not deploying when we got Drill Sergeants that haven't deployed. The Drill Sergeants are the one's training the Soldiers coming into the military today not CSM King. Some of you need to grow up and look at the big picture. There are alot of AG CSM's that have not deployed. Look at the history on why these particular personnel have not deployed before you say what they should or should not be doing. I see so many senior leaders in TRADOC that are running from deployment and CSM King is not one of them. She was in 82nd and from there probably where the Army sent her. LW I am with you. A combat patch doesn't make a Soldier.

    October 29, 2009 at 4:20 pm |
  9. LW

    13 years Army,

    I so agree with you. Going to combat does not make you a better leader. Some of the leaders in Iraq suck, and the morale of their soldiers are so low. You said a mouth full when you said ETS with the Combat Patch. You get hired for your knowledge and experience, not your combat patch.

    October 27, 2009 at 8:58 am |
  10. nerd

    Im currently attending the USADSS and she is putting her own twist on everything. She will do just fine...

    October 26, 2009 at 10:00 pm |
  11. LW

    I am with the truth,
    That's fine. You can agree with the Truth. I can stand alone on my own beliefs. We all have our opinions. Regardless of what you say, she is the Commandant of the Drill Sergeant School. Question the people that selected her because evidently they thought she was fit for the job.

    October 26, 2009 at 8:57 pm |
  12. 13 Years Army

    Truth,
    I am guessing since you work at the school you must have first hand knowledge that she has never asked to be sent on a deployment. As far as the the other stuff, I have worked with the OLD NCO's and I understand where you are coming from. My question to all the people that say if you have not been to combat you don't deserve anything is why? I have been in the Army for 13 years and have asked to be sent over twice but with my MOS I have not been able to. I didn't choose to stay in this MOS either. The Army voluntold me but as a Soldier should do, I do what the Army asks of me because I love the Army. So why should I be criticized because I did what the Army ask me to do. I would not follow half the people that have been to combat into battle so no one can tell me that it takes combat to make a leader. But for those of you who think it does, ETS and see where your combat patch gets you.

    October 26, 2009 at 5:26 pm |
  13. I am with the truth

    LW-

    Come on 8 years...and she hasn't even vol to go down range. I am in the AF and I even been there 4 time. 2 of which were year deployment conducting PTT missions. I don't know why they say the Army in stretched thin when there are soldiers like her who haven't even been down range. I see why you have non-combat MOS not wanting to vol because they are doing what the leadership does.

    October 26, 2009 at 12:19 pm |
  14. LW

    The Truth,

    Seems like you are bitter.

    Believe it or not, there are alot of people that have not been to Iraq. Soldiers in USAREC, TRADOC, etc, etc. We still have to Recruit and Train soldiers.

    Does going to Iraq make you a better soldier or more honorable. There are alot of NCOs/Officers that suck and have deployed to Iraq. You're probably one of them.

    She is playing a very important role by overseeing the basic training of Soldiers which is very important. Basic soldiering is very important and will never changed. AIT is where you receive your specialized training.

    Like my old post:
    She will mold NCOs into battle like every other leader that go to combat for the first time and mold their NCOs and soldiers. In 2003, when we went into Iraq, there were alot of officers and NCOs that lead soldiers and NCOs into battle for the first time. Everyday in the military, we train for battle whether it is wartime or not because we are suppose to always be ready to support and defend.

    October 26, 2009 at 7:45 am |
  15. The Truth

    I'm an NCO that works at the United States Army Drill Sergeant School and I can tell you from first hand knowledge that she is just a token for the Army. I say "token" not because I am attacking her for being a Woman, but at a time when the Army's recruiting needs are crucial they turn to a superficial display of diversity to fulfill those needs. At a day and age when most army personnel have seen combat within the last eight years since 911 she has managed to dodge it. I have been to combat 3 times in 5 years and so has many other soldiers, officers and NCO's. The fact that she has not volunteered to deploy to Iraq or Afghanistan and PRACTICE what she preaches troubles me and makes me question the true nature of her character. Also, she is one of the most despicable people I have ever met. She is an old dinosaur and needs to retire. The Army saw fit to make a political move by showing it's diversity but I believe that they have picked the wrong NCO. She is mean, vicious and a misguided individual who is spiteful towards all of the Staff ,Cadre, Civilians and Soldiers at the Drill Sergeant School. I hope the Army will get all the press they want so desperately and reassign her somewhere else where she can't influence more NCO's and Soldiers to leave the Army ranks at a time when we need every Soldier to fight the country's battles. She should "Man Up" and take her deployment dodging self over to Iraq and actually play a real NCO for once in her Army career.

    October 23, 2009 at 8:11 pm |
  16. army recruiter

    Tom,
    I have had to deal with that attitude for the last 8 years. Not all of us have had the chance to go to a war zone. We play the hand that the army deals us. I have been a recruiter for 8 years and its only because I was involuntary converted. I have 13 years in the army and believe that I am as good as leader any Soldier. I have dealt with many Soldiers that have came back and then become recruiters.Trust me when I say, being deployed does not make you a better leader. What would you have said 10 years ago when most of the Army did not have a combat patch. It sounds to me like you are disgruntle and might need to look at your leadership quality instead of attacking those that you think don't match up.

    October 21, 2009 at 11:36 pm |
  17. Heather O'Neill

    What a wonderful story. This is the type of article (and superbly written, might I add) that should be in magazines for young woman who are in need of a strong female role model to look up to. What a great example of selfless hard work and dedication to this wonderful country that we call home.

    October 21, 2009 at 8:57 pm |
  18. Jeanette Christian

    As a retired Army female (1SG & Drill Sergeant) and I can completely empathize with CSM King accomplishments and future obstacles. Talking about being "more than you can be" she will face a more difficult road just because she is female, but I am SURE she already knows that. She can minimize her accomplishment if she wants but obtaining that position in an all male oriented Army and on one of the most male dominated post is big stuff. As a forerunner (graduated DI school 1979, Ft. Jackson) this is big for the young female Specialist looking to see if she can make a career out of the Army. The answer is “Yes you can” see the example before you and you too can obtain it. Great Job!!

    October 21, 2009 at 1:45 pm |
  19. Natacha Caraballo

    CSM King is and always will be a tremendous leader! She trained me and a few of my battle buddies when we decided to go to airborne school. Just because she's never deployed does not say anything about who she is. I've never met anyone else that would push me as hard as she did. Not in basic training not even here in the 82nd. She's as hardcore as it gets. I remember during PT we would do 100 flutter kicks, 100 sit-ups, 100 push-ups, 100 pull ups, pretty much a 100 of everything and that was just a "warm up" she pushed everyone beyond their breaking point.
    I never wanted to fail her. I dont know why I felt that way, maybe it was because I was scared of what she would make me do. To this day she is the one part of AIT that I remember clearly. In the end she was my insparation. When she gave me a letter of recommendation I've never felt so proud of myself than I did that graduation day.
    She deserves all the recognition she's getting and so much more.
    ATW!
    Good job CSM King

    October 21, 2009 at 11:01 am |
  20. uber

    Who cares if she ever deployed to a combat zone? She is obviously well qualified for her position as a leader and administrator at the Drill Sergeant School.

    Let's get something straight: I served as a company commander for an Infantry Basic Training unit. The mission of Army Drill Sergeants is NOT to train soldiers for combat. Drill Sergeants have a distinct and unique mission, and that is to turn civilians into soldiers. The only place you will find Drill Sergeants is at Basic Training and sometimes AIT posts.

    They are tasked with introducing new soldiers to the Army. They teach basic soldiering skills, physical training and provide an environment where new soldiers are introduced to Army discipline and culture. This mission is clearly distinct from the missions of the Airborne School, Ranger School and even the advanced NCO courses, just to name a few.

    Pushing troops in basic training requires a different kind of motivation and dedication than what is required for combat. CSM King may be a professional TRADOC soldier, but TRADOC soldiers have their place in the building of new soldiers as surely as those training troops at more advanced levels. If you look at the breakdown for today's Army, there are 5-7 REMF's (Rear Echelon "Personnel") in place to support every one soldier in a line unit. Look it up.

    October 21, 2009 at 8:26 am |
  21. LW

    Tom,

    She will mold NCOs into battle like every other leader that go to combat for the first time and mold their NCOs and soldiers. In 2003, when we went into Iraq, there were alot of officers and NCOs that lead soldiers and NCOs into battle for the first time. Everyday in the military, we train for battle whether it is wartime or not because we are suppose to always be ready to support and defend.

    October 21, 2009 at 12:17 am |
  22. Merrill

    Those of you jumping down Tom Banks throat for his comment need to acutally read what he said because it makes perfect sense. And despite what you may think you know, Im sure he would feel the same way about a man who hadnt seen combat that was put in such a position. Personally, I know for a fact that there are more soldiers every day doing something much more valuable to killing terrorists than becoming the first anything somewhere else.

    October 20, 2009 at 10:32 pm |
  23. Charisma

    Great story!! I, myself, hope to be in her shoes one day!

    October 20, 2009 at 10:29 pm |
  24. Private Pyle

    What does it matter if she has deployed or not. It's not like she would be the one I'd want hanging out on my FOB or COP making up rediculous rules and then making NCO's enforce those rediculous rules. Leave the combat training and fighting up to those who are willing to train, deploy, and fight. Not run or hide out in TRADOC land so you won't deploy. So, basically if you have what it takes, you have a combat patch on your shoulder. If not then you might just fit the bill of being scared and hiding out. She's been in for 28 years. Wasn't Desert Storm going on sometime in the last 28 years? Ya, it was. Not to mention the eight year gap of OEF and OIF. So, I say she meets the bill and belongs in TRADOC. If she wanted to deploy, she would have deployed. It's not a hard thing to accomplish.

    October 20, 2009 at 9:41 pm |
  25. Laura

    Excellent story! So proud to see a strong woman break thru the "glass ceiling!"

    October 20, 2009 at 9:24 pm |
  26. Kimberly

    We need more WOMEN role models way to go Command Sergeant Major King.

    October 20, 2009 at 9:09 pm |
  27. Alex

    Ann, you merely confirmed Tom's point. Males who have not been in combat should not hold such positions either. Regardless of gender, the person should have combat experience.

    October 20, 2009 at 8:52 pm |
  28. Jake

    I don't think it's catty at all to question someone's credentials. And its not about 'not getting deployment orders', Michelle – she got to pick orders just like everyone else does in the military, and I'm pretty sure somewhere in her 29 years, she had an opportunity to at least go into a combat zone, if not into a direct combat scenario. There are plenty of strong, able women who have done time in combat zones already – I know a few. This isn't about gender at all for me, this is about being qualified.

    It's a fair question – how do you mold future NCOs when you've never experienced the grit and pain of a combat zone? I know I've done two tours now to the box ( about to do my third ). It's hard for me to imagine having to follow a leader who's never experienced what I've already been through twice.

    October 20, 2009 at 8:37 pm |
  29. Marine

    Come on CNN.....get it right. That was then and this is now? "That" was Marines and "then was Army!
    The first two clips are Marine Corps Drill Instructors with Marine recruits in Marine uniforms. The Marine Corps doesn't have Drill Sergeant's.
    The movie clip is from "Full Metal Jacket" with Gunnery Sergeant Hartmann, about Marines, played by a Marine. No Army there either.
    Is there a difference? you better believe it.
    How about doing your research.

    October 20, 2009 at 8:04 pm |
  30. Jeff of Peoria

    Tom You're taking a beating so I'll pile on some more. My father in law was in the Navy in WWll. He never left the states in 4 years. Explain that because he can't either!!

    October 20, 2009 at 7:58 pm |
  31. Sean

    I have to say Tom, poor form. You look like a bit of a chump as as soilder. I gotta agree with ann, there are plenty of men holding top leadership positions that have never set foot in a war zone. Sounds like sour grapes to me.

    October 20, 2009 at 6:42 pm |
  32. Anthony

    Tom. CSM King is not in the business of making "future NCOs to lead soldiers into battle" as you put it. She is responsible for training seasoned NCOs to become Drill Sergeants who turn civilians into Soldiers. Since she has been a Drill Sergeant in the past and has been a soldier for 29 years, I'd say that she is well qualified for the job. Oh, and one more thing. I am currently a student at the Drill Sergeant School and have met CSM King personally. Have you?

    October 20, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  33. Frederick

    Frankly, I see this as little more than a token thing.

    Sure, they're a woman in a relatively important military position, I won't deny that. But if you consider the fact that, even now, "policy does not allow women to join front-line, direct-combat units"... It suggests that, perhaps, they were looking through qualified candidates and figured she'd be someone who wcould serve as a beneficial symbol to suggest less segregation and imbalance of the sexes in the military in comparison to previous times - and yes, she does that well, and it's not /inaccurate/ strictly speaking... But it's still misleadingly positive.

    October 20, 2009 at 6:01 pm |
  34. Andrew

    Isn't CSM a pretty low rank compared to what the job entails? From what I gather from the article, she's responsible for the training of all drill sergeants in the U.S.

    October 20, 2009 at 5:53 pm |
  35. HB

    It is actually a shame. If you have ever met her you will know that she is not all she is cracked up to be. It is not such a joyous occassion and this is from a fellow female NCO. Deployment is crucial. I think it would be a concern for anyone to be put into this position w/o the right experience, male or female. Those that say you can't always deploy even if you want to are full of crap and have probably hid somewhere themselves and convinced themselves that it isn't their fault! As far as her being a female...right idea, wrong choice!

    October 20, 2009 at 5:21 pm |
  36. Donald

    Tom, while you have a point, you said it the wrong way.

    How is she supposed to "command" when she isn't a well rounded leader.

    It is not her fault she hasn't deployed, but she should not be in that job. What is she going to say when one of her soldiers comes up and asks for tips on being deployed to a warzone......nothing.

    She has done great things but she got promoted based on her gender. No male without going to OIF/OEF would get that job.

    October 20, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
  37. Army

    Meredith you wrote: Tom Banks – Its not her fault that the army's policy won't allow her to go to a warzone. What Army Policy is that? Because I SPENT 16 months in Iraq and so did 22 other females in my unit. We were on a Forward Operating Base. NOT in a green zone. I'm not sure where you're getting your information, but if the Army does have a policy as such, they're not abiding by it. The Army has a policy that females cannot have COMBAT MOS's. However, We would never have left Kuwait if the "no females in a warzone" were the case. Iraq and Afghanistan ARE the front lines!

    October 20, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  38. omoroo

    I noticed you never mentioned her color in the article and were it not for the photo I may never have known Command Sergeant Major Teresa King is Black. As a Black person I take pride in her accomplishments primarily because so many doors have been closed. But Command Sergeant Major Teresa King may not have wanted to be identified by her color, only as a proud soldier. I salute her, but i will pass this story on to other young Black girls so they can see that the opportunity is there if you apply yourself through dedication and hard work. Hard work and dedication trumps color any day.

    October 20, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  39. I seen it

    just becuase there is a policy that doesn't allow females in the military doesn't mean female can't be in combat. I seen a bunch of female in combat. One of the best .50 cal gunners i lead was a female. Any MOS can see combat. I really think everyone should deploy to a warzone if your in the military and there is a war going on. Even if she just went to Camp Victory and then drove up to the Green zone on Rte Irish I might have a little more respect for her. What Tom banks said is the TRUTH: How do you mold future NCOS to lead troops in battle when you have never been in battle yourself? How can as a military member not think that is true. No ones knows how they will react until their in combat. I had two months of training at Ft Hood before my 12 month tour and the the course leaders never been down range and the training was so out dated it set us up for failure. We had to learn on our own once we got there and throw all the training we got out the window.

    October 20, 2009 at 5:07 pm |
  40. Rodgers

    It's not that she isn't extremely devoted to the Army but I have to question whether her appointment is the Army's version or a publicity stunt. Those who say it's not, how many other articles have you seen on CNN about a new commandant's promotion? In times when the Army needs recruits, it does not surprise me they would go to such lengths to get "good press".

    October 20, 2009 at 4:38 pm |
  41. Mike

    A certain amount of well-earned respect is shown towards soldiers that have deployed into combat theater. Even among those soldiers there is a difference ie. deployed to Kuwait or Saudi Arabia vice Iraq or Afghanistan. Those of us that have deployed into a combat area realize that it is an experience that cannot be replicated elsewhere. I would prefer that a CSM training the soldiers I will fight with in the future have that experience, regardless of gender. I don't think I'd trust a medical school professor training my doctor on open heart surgery if he'd never performed one himself.

    October 20, 2009 at 4:12 pm |
  42. L

    This is to Tom Banks, this story highlights the fact that you have to make change where you can. When I was deploying all my Marines I wished I could be there with them because I knew I could do a better job than someone who didn't know them and because I knew I was capable but that was not going to happen because of my gender. Stop acting like women don't want to deploy and make contributions! We do as much as we are allowed. But since I couldn't be there thank you for your service and many sacrifices.

    October 20, 2009 at 4:11 pm |
  43. Anthony

    This would never happen in the Marines...HOOOORRAAAHHH..

    October 20, 2009 at 4:03 pm |
  44. Vanessa

    Others have addressed it, but Tom's comment rankled me enough to comment: CSM King has been deployed all over the world several times over. She has been in the military since she got out of high school. That is more than 3 and 4 tours, and more than most veterans. Not everyone is a lifer as she is demonstrating to be.

    The fact she never went to a warzone is because she is a woman, and the military still believes that women should not be in active combat. Like others have said, she sounds like the type of person that would not only have gone to a warzone and fought alongside you and any other soldier, she would have done it with the same strength of character she demonstrates at 48-years of age. Do not diminish her, this article, or her achievement because of your inadequacy.

    October 20, 2009 at 4:03 pm |
  45. Ft Jackson SSG

    You dont have to be a war zone veteran in order to lead troops. Ive worked with those who have deployed and those who havent. You know what the difference is? An airplane ride

    October 20, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  46. Tegan

    This is great. Granted, I am a Marine, but it is still great to see women getting some publicity for accomplishments like this. Tom Banks, look at all the places she has been, just because she has not been to combat does not mean she is less qualified.

    October 20, 2009 at 3:57 pm |
  47. Retired Marine

    I love this. She is as tough as they come. I like they way she says she molds soldiers in her image. That's what a good leader does. There were no mixed units when I was in the Corp, but if I had the chance I would follow her into combat!

    October 20, 2009 at 3:55 pm |
  48. Brenda

    Michelle: You could not have said it any better. I go where the Army tells me to go. Wether that's Iraq or stateside.

    CSM King: Congratulations. You are truly an inspiration. Thank you.

    October 20, 2009 at 3:25 pm |
  49. iTwirl Round

    When I was young (in the 1970s) I wanted to join the military. My parents pressured me to go to college and then to get married. When I read a story like this, I regret ... bitterly my decisions. There was no one in my day to look to. Theresa King will be that role model for so many young women – she will be able to make the difference between the boring, predictable life and a life of challenge for many young women.

    Thank you Ms King. You don't have to go to a combat zone to be a hero.

    October 20, 2009 at 3:19 pm |
  50. Julia Simpkins

    Excellent story! We at Fort Jackson are very proud of CSM King, as we are of all the Soldiers who serve our nation.

    October 20, 2009 at 2:53 pm |
  51. Rand

    Tom: Do you have as much disdain for Donald Rumsfeld? Combat experience: None. Recognition: Loads of it.

    October 20, 2009 at 2:45 pm |
  52. Retired soldier

    Meredith, Wrong-o! Woman have and are to this day in a combat zone! The fact CSM King has never been deployed makes no difference to me and should not have been in the article to begin with. I was in the first Gulf war back in 1990-91 and ALL the females from my unit went with us.

    October 20, 2009 at 2:44 pm |
  53. Nai

    Thank yoy Michele. I agree

    October 20, 2009 at 2:31 pm |
  54. Bill

    How does one never deploy to a combat zone since Desert Storm/Shield and OIF/OEF. A soldier always volunteers before getting picked. That's what my Drill Sgt taught me many years ago.

    I agree with Tom. You need to have a combat experience original mold to train the future leaders or our all volunteer Army.

    October 20, 2009 at 2:06 pm |
  55. Sgt Shirey, Eric

    While I am not in the US Army (i'm a US Marine), I cant help but feel proud that a women is being judged on her skills and not her gender. I know many females in both the Marines and Army who are outstanding leaders and I would gladly go into combat with. I wish CSgtMaj the best of luck and hope that she will turn out a harder more effective core of Army Drill Sgt's who will in turn make harder and more effective Soliders. That when the Army and Marine come together to close with and destroy the enemies of America we will all know that the man or women on our left and right are the best in the world and we can focus on putting round on target. Semper Fi CSgtMaj OORAH

    Sgt Shirey, Eric D.
    USMC

    October 20, 2009 at 2:04 pm |
  56. Dan

    How any NCO can do 29 years in today's Army and not have one deployment is beyond me. Sounds like she has made a career of dodging deployments. How is she going to stand in front of cadre and tell them about the mission of the Army Soldier? She is not going to speak from experiance. And is not leading by example.

    October 20, 2009 at 1:51 pm |
  57. Scott

    As a member of the US Armed Forces, I want to thank you for your service to our great country and congratulate you on being named the first woman commandant of the drill sergeant school.

    October 20, 2009 at 1:44 pm |
  58. Michelle

    Tom, Soldiers go where their orders tell them to go. If she didn't get deployment orders, she didn't get deployment orders. It doesn't make her any less capable or knowledgeable. It's a matter of where they needed her and when. Some of us deployed, some of us didn't. CSM King did her duty, and she did it well. Are you going to question the service, honor, and dedication of your fellow Soldiers because their assignments and orders differed from yours? That seems a bit catty, and unbecoming of a Soldier.

    October 20, 2009 at 1:28 pm |
  59. Ann

    Tom, I know PLENTY of males that have not been in combat and are holding positions such as this. A Commandant in BNCOC for instance. The only reason that you said that is because she is a female. If it was a male in the same position you wouldn't question whether or not they have been in a war zone, would you? I doubt it.
    Congratulations Sergeant Major King!

    October 20, 2009 at 1:23 pm |
  60. Meredith

    Tom Banks – Its not her fault that the army's policy won't allow her to go to a warzone. From everything in this story, it sounds like she would have gone the second they asked. Just because the men in the army are normally too hard headed to allow women into warzones and to move up the ranks doesn't mean its not important to recognize when a woman does make a difference in the army. It sounds like she has worked hard to earn her position and is highly respected by everybody around her. You could probably learn a lot from her!

    October 20, 2009 at 1:18 pm |
  61. Misti

    I remember when she was the CSM of my AIT unit. And wow, talk about a role model for us Army Women out there.
    Great Job CSM King!!!!!!!

    October 20, 2009 at 1:00 pm |
  62. Karen

    Congratulations!!! My Aunt entered the WAC in 1952 retiring as a LTC. I entered the WAC/Army 1977, retiring as a CW3. The women's role in the services is continously changing. Women have come a long way since my Aunt served, and even far still since I reitred. Positions in the Army that were thought to never be held by a female soldiers are now open to women. I am so glad women in the Mlitary have more opportunites than ever. Women soldiers, keep opening those doors for the next generation.

    October 20, 2009 at 12:47 pm |
  63. Tom Banks

    Too bad she has never deployed to a warzone like most of us have about 3 or 4 times. It kills me that the news everywhere makes a big story of this. How do you mold future NCOS to lead troops in battle when you have never been in battle yourself?

    October 20, 2009 at 12:04 pm |
  64. Pam Stemmerman

    Tough as nails and yet still woman enough to care about her nails. Awesome!

    October 20, 2009 at 7:35 am |
  65. Frank

    This is a good story, it appears that she really worked fair and hard to get where she is. It sounds like she went on heads on against everyone else to finish ahead based on her skills and not in finding ways to play the system, now this is achievement. Now about the stock market are you implying that I should be in equity and that I am not putting my money at risk. It sounds like you are trying to sell us investments free of risk. Using your own words, "would I" have not invested in equity last summer, my wealth would be 40% higher than it is now. The stock market remains very speculative investment, and only time will tell if the "would I have" remains a sound sale pitch today.

    October 20, 2009 at 7:06 am |