Female soldier reaches milestone, paves way for others

FORT HOOD, Texas (KXAN) — A Fort Hood soldier was honored Tuesday for being the first woman to qualify to command a Bradley fighting tank. It is a duty the Army just recently opened up to women.

The move represents a big milestone in preparing thousands of women soldiers for combat roles by 2016.

Maj. Crissy Cook is one of the women leading the way.

“There’s nothing special about me,” Cook said. “Yes, I am a female, but in my crew, they don’t look at me as a female. They look at me as a qualified officer who is out there to conduct the mission with them.”

Cook, a member of the 1st Cavalry Division, has been training with the M2 and M3 Bradley fighting vehicle and just qualified for ‘Top Gun’ at the last gunnery.

She says any woman can reach their goals, it just takes hard work and high expectations.

“Find a mentor, someone you can talk to…it’s tough but it’s not whether you’re a man or a woman, it’s the standards.”

Once called to combat Cook could have several roles, including infantry battle, surveillance and artillery operations.

Currently, there are nearly 77,000 women among the Army ranks. They make up close to 14 percent of the force.

Until recently, the military blocked women from combat roles, making it harder for many of them to get promotions. But last year, the military eliminated a rule that blocked women from direct combat positions.

The change cleared the way for women to serve in combat ground units like armored or infantry battalions. Removing the rule opened more than 13,000 positions in the Army to women.

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