News: Change of battalion leadership is unique
COB BASRA, Iraq — The 308th Brigade Support Battalion, 17th Fires Brigade, conducted the first-ever female-to-female change of responsibility in the history of the battalion, March 10, on Contingency Operating Base Basra.
The historic ceremony, coinciding with Women's History Month, marked the official transfer of Company A first sergeant responsibility between the outgoing 1st Sgt. Jillanna Malachi, and incoming 1st Sgt. Valanteen Skilang.
"First Sgt. Malachi's tremendous impact during her 18-month tenure with Alpha Company is a significant reason why we were so successful back at Fort Lewis and have continued that success here on COB Basra," said Capt. John Roy, commander, Co. A, 308th BSB, 17th FiB.
Malachi, a Sacramento, Calif. native, spoke positively of her experiences in the 308th.
"I've enjoyed watching you grow as individuals and as a team," Malachi said. "I wish you all the best in life and I appreciate all the support you have given me and this command over the last 18 months."
Up next for Malachi is a year of study at the U.S. Army Sergeants' Major Academy in preparation for an eventual assignment as a sergeant major, the highest enlisted rank in the U.S. Army.
As ceremonial guest speaker, 308th BSB Command Sgt. Maj. Wendell Jordan commented on the history of the unit as well as the significance of the event.
"Numerous historic battlefield events are embedded within the history of the storied 17th Fires Brigade and its subordinate units," Jordan said.
"The change of responsibility between two hard-charging female first sergeants during combat operations is a momentous achievement for women in the Thunderbolt Brigade. This represents the tremendous achievements that women have made in our Army and society in general," he said.
The 308th BSB served in multiple European campaigns during World War II but at that time, female Soldiers weren't allowed to serve in a combat environment.
Yet, due to the pioneering efforts of those women in the U.S. military who came before, the sight of women in critical leadership roles in Iraq has become commonplace.