Brig. Gen. Michaelene “Mikey” Kloster became the first female general Saturday at Fort Benning to lead an Army Reserve unit.
“I’m humbled and I’m honored,” Kloster said shortly before post commander Maj. Gen. H. R. McMaster promoted her to brigadier general in a ceremony at the Armed Forces Reserve Center.
The promotion of Kloster came nearly four months after she took command of the 98th Training Division at Harmony Church. With four brigades spread throughout 12 eastern states and Puerto Rico, the division’s primary mission is to provide drill sergeants to Army Training Centers across the nation.Kloster, 50, is part of history at the post but she considers herself a soldier with an opportunity. “I’m a little person, but I always took the opportunity to learn everything I could from everybody that I could, including my sergeants,” she said. “I’ve learned more from my sergeants than I’ve learned from anybody else.”
During her 29-year career, Kloster said this is her sixth command which is unheard of in a normal career or for a female.
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“Somewhere along the way, they trained me right that I’m a decent commander of troops and this opportunity,” she said. “I don’t look at this as I’m a female in this role. I look at this as I’m an officer.”
When asked about her goals or ideas, Kloster said she’s already thinking about ways to recruit more female drill sergeants the Army Reserve lends to all active Army basic training posts and other training camps.
“I have been given the task to help recruit female drill sergeants because we need female drill sergeants,” she said. “We are very short on them in active duty and Army Reserves.”
She was at a drill sergeant school a couple of months ago and wished she’d been one. “It looks pretty fun,” she said. “It’s pretty neat. I’m excited to help with that.”
Kloster has reached a milestone in her career but there was a time when she didn’t think the day would come.
“I am a cancer survivor,” she said. “I didn’t think today was going to happen because of that. So I’m excited because the Army is truly recognizing resilience and our ability to survive and roll forward.”
She is thankful she’s still able to serve in the Army. “Being a cancer survivor, I really thought my career was over,” she said. “I went through treatment and bounced back.”
When she is not a citizen soldier, Kloster is chief of staff in a civilian position for the 99th Regional Support Command, the Army Reserves Northeast Region at Fort Dix, N.J. She live just outside the post with her cat, Fred.
She plans to get back to Fort Benning once a month. “I need to get out and visit the soldiers,” she said. “It’s one thing to be a leader and one thing to be general. It’s the soldiers, that’s what it all about.”
For Maj. Randy L. Havlicak, it was a great day for the division in a new building and the commander promoted to brigadier general. “It’s exciting,” he said.