Fort Benning

First openly gay general to take command of Army Reserve unit at Fort Benning


Brig. Gen. Tammy Smith to take command of the 98th Training Division at Fort Benning.
Brig. Gen. Tammy Smith to take command of the 98th Training Division at Fort Benning.

Brig Gen. Tammy Smith, the first openly gay general in the U.S. Army, is poised to take over as the commander of the 98th Training Division, a Reserve unit at Fort Benning.

Smith will take her new post at an 11 a.m. change of command ceremony on Nov. 8 at the parade field adjacent to the National Infantry Museum. When she was promoted to brigadier general in 2012, Smith became the first openly gay general in the Army. Smith replaces Brig. Gen. Michaelene Kloster.

The Army repealed its “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy on same-sex relationships in September 2011. Smith’s relationship with her wife, Tracey Hepner, became public in April 2012 when Smith was promoted to brigadier general. In Army tradition, Hepner pinned the star on her spouse.

Smith explained the significance in an April 2012 interview with National Public Radio. There have been numerous media reports of her sexual orientation.

“It is not like I went around and told anybody,” Smith said in that interview. “I just felt a sense of relief. I think what made it different on the promotion was that repeal had taken place. Tracey is a member of my family. I don’t really think of it as I came out so much as her participation gave people a view into my authentic life — our authentic life. I don’t think it feels so much I came out — though I have seen a couple of headlines in the paper that apparently I did — but it was more about the recognition of family and the fact that Tracey is indeed my family.”

Smith has been the Army Reserve deputy chief of staff prior to her assignment to the 98th Training Division. She has had a 29-year military career where she has had varied duties and assignments.

Smith was responsible for establishing the Warrior Transition Unit liaison program, ensuring that Army Reserve soldiers in the transition units remained connected to their unit leadership and retained access to professional military education and promotion opportunity during medical treatment.

She also spearheaded the Army’s Active to Reserve Transition pilot program at Fort Hood, Texas.

Smith is a 1986 graduate of the University of Oregon, where she was a four-year Reserve Officer Training Corps scholarship recipient. She was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Quartermaster Corps upon graduation. She has a master in management form Webster University and a doctorate of management organizational leadership from the University of Phoenix. She also has a master in strategic studies from the Army War College.

The 98th Training Division has only been on post at Fort Benning for about three years. After more than 45 years in Rochester, N.Y., the headquarters relocated to Fort Benning in July 2012, and continues to exercise command and control of four brigades located throughout 12 eastern U.S. states as well as Puerto Rico.