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    First female Idaho National Guard artillery officer paves way for others

    First female Idaho National Guard artillery officer paves way for others

    Photo By Master Sgt. Becky Vanshur | 1st Lt. Abigail Cannon is the first female field artillery officer in the Idaho Army...... read more read more



    Story by Master Sgt. Becky Vanshur 

    Idaho Army National Guard

    1st Lt. Abigail Cannon is the first female field artillery officer in the Idaho Army National Guard, paving the way for other females who join behind her.

    “I think the best part of being the first of anything is that I’m setting an example of letting others, specifically females, know that I and they can successfully accomplish this job and gender has nothing to do with the role,” said Cannon.

    Cannon has only been in the position for nearly eight months, after commissioning into the artillery as the fire support officer for the 1st Battalion of the 148th Field Artillery Regiment.

    Cannon’s first field training exercise as the fire support officer was in June during African Lion ’22, a multinational, combined joint exercise conducted in Morocco comprising of roughly 8,000 troops from the U.S., Ghana, Senegal and Tunisia. Cannon was responsible for directing the daily shooting missions of the five M109A6 howitzers that the Idaho National Guard brought for the two-week exercise in Morocco. She worked hand-in-hand with the Moroccan fire support officer and together they targeted simultaneous live-fire missions.

    “Field artillery is often supporting the maneuver elements like infantry or armor, so one of the biggest challenges came when I had to place our artillery components,” said Cannon. “I also then had to know all the different maneuver components and where they are positioned in the area of operations. If I am providing indirect fires, I don’t want to place the artillery guns too close behind a maneuver element.”

    Cannon said her biggest challenge was to always have eyes on the ground with a 3D understanding of the battle zone.

    “I have to know what is behind and in front of my artillery guys, and also what is above them,” she said. “Additionally, I have to know where my artillery rounds will be in reference to where other troops are.”

    When she is not leading the fire support team at exercises such as African Lion or at her local armory in Pocatello, Idaho, she is a personal trainer focusing on her online presence to gain and help clientele who may not be local to her own community. She believes in the importance of staying mentally and physically fit and enjoys helping others stay in shape. Out on the battlefield, she focuses on leading a successful team.

    “As a fire support officer, it’s very important that I have a very successful fire support team,” said Cannon. “My fire support noncommissioned officer and the forward observers on my team are incredible and they are the ones doing the leg work. They are the most important part of the fire support team. The most rewarding part of being their leader is just being part of an already successful team.”

    Cannon is a member of the Navajo Tribe and very proud of her Native American heritage. She follows in the footsteps of two of her grandfathers who served in the military. Billy Dean Wilson served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War and her great-grandfather James Largo served during World War II in the Marine Corps as a code talker of the Navajo Nation.

    In 2015, certain combat positions at the battalion level were still closed to females. By January 2016, the U.S. military opened all combat roles to women, including field artillery. Cannon joined the Idaho National Guard in 2015 after finishing high school in Idaho Falls, and enrolled in the Boise State University Army ROTC program.

    After completing ROTC in 2020, she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology with a minor in military science. Following the BSU program, she attended the Field Artillery Basic Officers Leadership Course at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, graduating on the commandant’s list in the top 20 percent of her class. She then came back to Idaho to make history as the state’s first female artillery officer.



    Date Taken: 07.25.2022
    Date Posted: 07.25.2022 17:45
    Story ID: 425767
    Location: BOISE, ID, US 
    Hometown: POCATELLO, ID, US

    Web Views: 289
    Downloads: 0