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Patrick L.
Democrat VT

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  • Tribute to Specialist Skylar Anderson

    by Senator Patrick J. Leahy

    Posted on 2015-12-08

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    LEAHY. Mr. President, last week, a distinct honor was bestowed upon Vermont Army National Guard [[Page S8480]] Specialist Skylar Anderson and, by extension, the Vermont National Guard. I want to recognize this milestone.

    After graduating from a rigorous program at the 164th Regimental Training Institute in North Dakota, Specialist Anderson became the first female soldier in the country to be awarded a military occupation specialty as a combat engineer. In this position, she will enrich the capabilities of our Guard, bringing new skills and expertise to her work. While this is an impressive honor on its own, she did this while managing a full workload. While serving in the Vermont National Guard, she is a student at the University of Vermont. Specialist Anderson has clearly earned this recognition through her hard work and dedication.

    Opportunities to serve in our military, whether soldier or sailor, airman, or marine, should be available to the best and brightest, regardless of gender, and Specialist Anderson has shown young women around the country that gender integration in the military is very real. Just last week, the Secretary of Defense declared all positions in the U.S. armed services open to females, removing artificial restrictions so that the United States can have the very best serving, like Specialist Anderson.

    As a Vermonter, I am especially proud of her achievements, and I am also appreciative of the members of the Vermont National Guard who supported her throughout the process.

    I ask unanimous consent that an article about Specialist Skylar Anderson published by National Guard Online be printed in the Record.

    There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows: [From the National Guard Online, Nov. 27, 2015] Vermont Guard Member Becomes USA's First Female Combat Engineer Colchester, VT.--Spc. Skylar Anderson, a member of the Vermont Army National Guard, became the first female Soldier in the nation to be awarded the 12B Military Occupation Specialty (MOS) code as a combat engineer.

    Anderson was previously a Multiple Launch Rocket System Operations/Fire Direction Specialist (13P) prior to re- classing to a combat engineer.

    She graduated Aug. 31 from the 164th Regimental Training Institute (RTI) in Devils Lake, North Dakota.

    Goarmy.com says that combat engineers primarily supervise, serve or assist as a member of a team when they are tackling rough terrain in combat situations. They provide their expertise in areas such as mobility, counter-mobility, survivability and general engineering. They construct fighting positions, fixed/floating bridges, obstacles and defensive positions, place and detonate explosives, conduct operations that include route clearance of obstacles and rivers, prepare and install firing systems for demolition and explosives, and detect mines visually or with mine detectors.

    ``I knew that I would be one of the first females to go, but not the first to graduate,'' Anderson said. ``I knew that the MOS had just opened up a few months ago and having previously been field artillery, I wanted to do it.'' Originally enlisting in the New Hampshire National Guard, Anderson interstate transferred to the Vermont Army National Guard (VTARNG) in February of 2014, while pursuing a degree at the University of Vermont. Currently a junior, she is studying Animal Science, Equine Studies, in the pre- Veterinary program.

    ``I was floating around for a bit in Vermont,'' Anderson said in reference to how she became interested in becoming a 12B. Since the VTARNG didn't have 13Ps, Anderson briefly thought about joining the military police or working in supply. It wasn't until annual training this summer that she found out that the 12B MOS had opened up to women and decided that's what she wanted to do.

    ``Vermont is incredibly proud of Spc. Anderson and her accomplishments and achievements,'' said Maj. Gen. Steven A. Cray, the adjutant general, Vermont National Guard. ``This is an important milestone not only for Spc. Anderson, but for all women in the integration of females into combat roles.'' According to the 164th Regiment RTIs website, the 12B10 Combat Engineer MOS-T course provides reclassification training for military personnel with prior military experience, so that they may obtain the skills necessary to perform as a Combat Engineer.

    There, Soldiers are provided technical training in basic demolitions, wire obstacles, explosive hazards, fixed bridging and urban operations.

    ``Spc. Anderson displayed tremendous personal courage in seeking out MOS reclassification to a specialty previously closed to women,'' said Capt. Eugene Enriquez, Commander, Headquarters, Headquarters Company, 86th Brigade Special Troop Battalion, 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Mountain).

    ``The training at the school was awesome,'' Anderson said. ``By the third day we were out in the field and at the range, using TNT, dynamite and det cord, blowing stuff up! This class was really hands on and that's what I loved about it.'' ____________________

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