It’s been three years since the Army first started accepting women into its infantry, armor, fire support specialist and special operator communities. Before this shift, one option female Soldiers had to positively affect the Combat Arms community, was to become a US Army Drill Sergeant. Drill Sergeants teach new recruits every aspect of Basic Combat Training—which means they have the great responsibility of shaping recruits into the best Soldiers in the world.
Two of these female Drill Sergeants, SSG Marisa Diaz and SSG Kiaveth Vasquez, made history by being the first 2 female CAV-Scout Drill Sergeants in the United States Army Reserve. Their success represents a growing trend of highly qualified females moving into combat arms formations all across the United States Army.
Diaz decided to become a Drill Sergeant in 2013 in order to have a direct impact on the development of young Soldiers, especially female Soldiers. Her goal was to set the example that female Soldiers would look to for guidance and encouragement.
Not surprising, Diaz was inspired to become a Drill Sergeant because of her own personal experiences while attending Initial Entry Training (IET) and Advanced Individual Training (AIT).
“When I joined the Army I was a dedicated individual but I did not have a sense of direction or purpose in my life,” Diaz explained. “My Drill Sergeants quickly solved my lack of direction and helped me find the purpose that I had always been looking for: to serve my country, surpass my own expectations, and always be there for my fellow Soldiers.”
When the opportunity arose for females to obtain a Combat Arms MOS, Diaz was one of the first Soldiers in the Squadron to volunteer to attend Calvary Scout (19D) Transition School, graduating in August 2018.
“When I was told that my unit was transitioning and that we would have the opportunity to achieve a Combat Arms MOS, I immediately started asking when the earliest class date was available.” Diaz said, “I knew this was the next best step for myself and my career.”
Diaz is eagerly awaiting her first opportunity to train and develop a unit of Calvary Soldiers when she supports the One Station Unit Training (OSUT), this summer, in Fort Benning, GA.
“I have been drilling myself and focusing on the basics to ensure that I am fully prepared to excel during this mission.” Diaz said, “My only desire is to make myself, my unit and the US Army proud.”
Similarly, SSG Vasquez, formerly an 89B ammunition specialist responsible for the management of ammunition and explosives, decided to become a Drill Sergeant in 2018, seeking ever more challenging roles within the United States Army.
On 21 May 2019, Vasquez became one of the first females in the history of the United State Army to become a 19D Cavalry Scout Drill Sergeant when she graduated from the 19D military occupational specialty transition course class 001-19 at 1st Armor Training Battalion 154th Regiment, Camp Shelby, Mississippi.
About the transition course she says, “The first 4 days were brutal. We were introduced to over 70 tanks and helicopters that eventually we would be tested on. The second day we had a physical demands test that consisted of different activities that will challenge us as Bradley crewmen. On the third day we had a 12 mile ruck march.”
Vasquez remembers vividly why she originally joined the Army. “I remember watching a commercial when I was in 6th grade of some female Soldiers rappelling down from a helicopter. I always thought that was so cool. I told myself ‘I can do that’”.
She continued, “my role models have been bad and good leaders throughout my career. The bad ones, well I don’t ever want my Soldiers to feel or go through those horrible experiences like I did; so I know what patterns and behaviors to avoid. With the good leaders I’ve had, they’ve been tough on me, but they taught me so much along the way. They pushed me to do better and at times I hated it, however, the end result was awesome.”
Vasquez will join with her peers this summer to forge the next generation of 19D Cav Scout Soldiers at Basic Combat Training, One Station Unit Training (BCT OSUT) at Fort Benning, Georgia.
While in Alpha Troop 2/415th, 1st Brigade, 98th Division, Vasquez has often taken the lead within her unit and set high standards of excellence for her peers to emulate.
From here she has her eye on her unit’s Best Warrior Competition, NCO/Drill Sergeant of the year, Iroquois challenge, and Ranger school.
Whether influenced by leaders of their own or intrinsically motivated from an early age, these Drill Sergeants are poised to leave a legacy of their own as they train and mentor recruits into Soldiers in the coming years. The opportunity to provide their own brand of committed leadership is spread before them and it is now up to them to make the positive impact on young Soldiers they themselves were inspired by.