General shares women's role in combat

lgierer@ledger-enquirer.comAugust 27, 2013 

Brig. Gen. Michaelene Kloster said she hears talk about the role of female soldiers and whether they should be in combat. She wants to let people know they are already there.

Thousands of women are wearing a Combat Action Badge. She has one, along with a Bronze Star.

Kloster was the featured speaker Monday during a Fort Benning observance of Women's Equality Day, the anniversary of women being granted the right to vote in 1920 by the 19th Amendment.

Kloster said she is grateful for all the women who

worked to get the right to vote, which led to greater opportunities for women.

"I have benefited from their courage," she said. "They gave me the chance to be all I could be."

She shared her experience of being under attack in Iraq.

"It was kind of surreal," she said. "You have to be able to react and perform under pressure. I guess I did because I'm here. At the time, I was just wondering if I was aiming at the right thing."

Kloster is commander of the 98th Training Division, a U.S. Army Reserve unit headquartered at Fort Benning. The division's primary mission is to provide drill sergeants to Army training centers across the nation.

Kloster, who lives near Fort Dix, N.J., wants to see more female drill sergeants.

Asked if she believes most male soldiers are accepting of women as fellow warriors, she said she does.

"The men respect anyone who meets the standards and is able to perform as a member of the team," she said.

The commander of Fort Benning's Maneuver Center of Excellence, Maj. Gen. H.R. McMaster, agreed.

He said female soldiers are judged just as men are, by their dedication and commitment to the Army's mission.

McMaster called Kloster a "great example for all of us, men and women, to follow."

Kloster said that race and gender shouldn't matter if someone can do the job. "That is what America is all about," she said.

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