Command Sergeant Major Teresa King takes charge of the Drill Sergeant School, the Army’s largest training institution for drill sergeants, in Fort Jackson, SC today and is the first woman ever appointed to head the school. As Commandant of the school, King will oversee 78 instructors and supervise drill sergeant training for the entire Army.
In an interview with the Associated Press King attributed her strong work ethic to her upbringing; her father was a sharecropper in North Carolina and she was the eighth out of twelve children. She says she learned early to “give a hard day’s work for whatever I earned and not take short cuts.” Willie Shelley, a retired command sergeant major who supervised King told the New York Times, “it would not surprise me that she could become the first female sergeant major of the Army,” which is the highest ranking enlisted soldier.
King is a 29-year veteran of the Army whose first military job was as a postal clerk, which was a traditional position for women at the time. She later served as an aide to the Secretary of Defense and in various senior enlisted positions in Korea, at the XVIII Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg, and at NATO headquarters in Europe.
The Army continues to be male-dominated: only 14 percent of the 550,000 of those enlisted are women. Although ground conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan has changed the nature of modern warfare, women are still barred from direct combat roles in the infantry or Special Forces.