Ft. Leonard Wood is short 42 female drill sergeants– Army turns to reserves

02/20/2013  |  By Joanna Small KSPR News
The Griffon

FT. LEONARD WOOD, Mo. ­— Over the last four decades hundreds of thousands of enlisted troops have gotten out of the United States military, but the number of women soldiers has increased seven-fold.  Partly to handle that increase, Fort Leonard Wood found itself 42 female drill sergeants short.

Fourteen percent enlisted and 16 percent of officers in our country’s military are women, and those new women going through basic training at Fort Leonard Wood need same gender drill sergeants.  So the Army turned to the reserves.

Most soldiers will tell you, when a drill sergeant is barking orders, you do exactly what he -- or she -- says.

That’s right, boys, girls can do it, too.  In fact, drill sergeants like Mallory Nebrich are in high demand.

“I understand why the Army is pushing for females in every company and platoon, because you’re not only like a role model and mentor for the females; it’s not just for them, it’s for both genders to see what a strong female leader looks like in the military,” Nebrich said.

She may not have had this opportunity if there were more of them; she’s in the Army Reserves.

“I had one female drill sergeant and she wasn’t in my platoon, so my interactions were mostly with male drill sergeants, which was another reason I was so shocked they had drill sergeant reservists,” said Nebrich.

Fort Leonard Wood was 42 active duty women drill sergeants short, so Nebrich signed on for a six-month stint with pleasure.

“Oh, there’s yelling, there’s yelling,” she said with a laugh.  “But I always looked at my drill sergeants as the epitome of what a soldier’s supposed to be.”

Now she hopes her soldiers do the same, particularly the women.

“With a female drill sergeant, I think it’s an easier transition.  With a male, I would have been more intimidated,” said new Private Erin Brennan.

“I generally spend more time with the females because I know what they’re going through,” said Nebrich.

It’s only been a week and her efforts seem to be making a difference -- “Not that scary,” admitted Brenna about Nebrich.  But it’s just scary enough that Nebrich will be remembered for her impact, not her gender.

“They’re going to remember you for the rest of their military career, they’re going to remember their drill sergeants,” said Nebrich.

Fort Leonard Wood’s proportion of women soldiers is much higher than the military as a whole -- it’s 38 percent of the post population, and nearly half of all women in the military are trained at Fort Wood.

In 2009, the first woman was selected to command the drill sergeant school at Fort Jackson, S.C.

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