COLUMBIA, SC, UNITED STATES
COLUMBIA, S.C. - In 2014, a directive was issued from the secretary of the Army, authorizing more opportunities for women to serve in a wider range of roles within the U.S. Army. By January 2016, the U.S. military must open all combat jobs to women or explain why any must remain closed.
Graduating the Field Artillery Basic Officer Leadership Course (BOLC) at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, May 19, 2nd Lt. Tracci Dorgan has broken down a barrier to become the first female field artillery officer in the South Carolina National Guard. She is currently a fire direction officer with Bravo Battery, 1-178th Field Artillery, based out of Clinton, South Carolina. In the U.S. Army, field artillery is a combat arms branch.
“It's an honor to be the first, but it also presents a level of demand to not let anyone down,” said Dorgan.
When Dorgan began her 18-month Officer Candidate School at the South Carolina National Guard Palmetto Military Academy, the field artillery branch wasn’t open to females.
“I wasn't originally considering field artillery,” said Dorgan. “But it opened up to females before I had to decide my branch. I talked to a few leaders of the 1-178th FA; they were welcoming and I felt up for the challenge.”
During the 18-week BOLC, the officers studied a variety of fire support and gunnery subjects, said Dorgan.
“Fire support is all about calling for artillery on a confirmed location, understanding the terrain and how the enemy might use it,” said Dorgan. “Gunnery was all about the howitzers, the ammunition and most importantly, safety.”
“BOLC was challenging,” said Dorgan. “That was probably the most challenging course I have ever completed. Everyone warned me about the math required, however, it was not the math that was a struggle for me, it was the speed at which the course was taught.”
Dorgan’s BOLC class had about 130 students, about 20 of which were females. And, according to Dorgan, the females had less of a failure rate.
“My fellow hard-charging females and I kept up with the guys every step of the way,” said Dorgan. “Some of the top grades were from females.”
As a prior enlisted Soldier, Dorgan brings a wealth knowledge to her unit, along with her new rank. She enlisted March of 1999 and became a Microwave System Operator and Maintainer, working in a four-man team to fix all radio systems in her unit. Dorgan then deployed in 2003, establishing communication networks in Kuwait and Iraq at the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In her next role, she became a recruiter from 2005 through 2008. In 2008, Dorgan re-classed as a photojournalist and was promoted to staff sergeant in 2009 before deciding to pursue her commission.
“We are eager to get 2nd Lt. Dorgan out with the unit,” said Lt. Col. Arnold Blanding, commander of the 1-178th Field Artillery, South Carolina Army National Guard. “She has been eager from the beginning and I know she will be a fine addition to the unit, and to the field artillery family.”
“We will continue to uphold standards that field artillery jobs require,” added Blanding. “Females have been in our support units for a long time and we know how to plan for Soldier care.”
Dorgan is not only the first female officer in the South Carolina National Guard to fill a field artillery position, but she is the first female in the South Carolina National Guard to fill any of the newly opened combat roles.
“I asked to go FA, to be a part of the changes,” added Dorgan. “There is a huge opportunity ahead of me and all the other females that have chosen this path.”
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This work, South Carolina National Guard welcomes first female field artillery officer, by MAJ Jamie Delk, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.