Sisters in Arms goes International
March 20, 2014
By Capt. Tania Donovan and 1st Lt. Richard R. Brantley
17th Field Artillery Brigade
JOINT BASE LEWIS MCCHORD, Wash. - While units across the country come together to launch the Sisters in Arms program at their home duty stations, there is one place in the world where service members from at least five different countries joined to celebrate a Coalition International Sisters in Arms Day.
"It is truly an honor to sign my name along with my fellow commanders on the first Coalition Sisters in Arms charter," said Lt. Col. Luis M. Rivera, commander of 1st Battalion, 94th Field Artillery Regiment, 17th Field Artillery Brigade.
The event took place in the Middle East, where the 1st Battalion, 94th Field Artillery Regiment, 17th Field Artillery Brigade is currently deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
The Sisters in Arms program is meant to offer a support structure for women across formations that seek to build camaraderie, a spirit of fellowship, and a program of mentorship.
Service members from the United States, the Royal Air Force, Australian Defense Force, New Zealand Defense Force, and the Armed Forces of the Netherlands, came together for the first time in history to celebrate International Women's Day and the signing of the inaugural Coalition Forces Sisters in Arms Program.
Maj. Gen. Craig Orme was the key-note speaker. He spoke about military capability, diversity and respect among service members.
"The Australian Army has responded [in force to the challenges of integrating women into the military] and all of our many diverse communities [across the coalition] are coming together like never before," said Orme. "It is clear that policies that are good for women are good for everyone."
To further provide mentorship and perspective on the Sisters in Arms concept, four female service members told their personal stories about their military endeavors, the challenges they have faced and the opportunities they see in the future.
"While adversity is a part of the constant change across the military, there is great promise in the wonderful opportunities available to women in the Armed Forces of the United States and her allies," said Leanne Woon, commanding officer of the New Zealand Defence Force Operation Troy Mission Support Element.
Second Lt. Taylor Cardosi, 1st Battalion, 37th Field Artillery Regiment, has recently broken barriers by becoming the first female fire direction officer on Joint Base Lewis McChord.
Her new position is a direct result of the recent review of the Department of Defense policy in respect to allowing women into previously male-only positions.
Programs like Sisters in Arms will become more prevalent and more significant as Soldiers like Cardosi continue to break new barriers.
Spc. Erika White, 1-94th FAR, had her own opinions of the Sister's in Arms program, "It's wonderful that the Army has created a program that allows for female networking across the various branches of our military and our coalition partners," said White.
With programs like these, the future for women throughout our armed services is bright. It is a significant support structure for both sustainment and front line female warriors.
The army.mil website summarizes these new developments and opportunities available to women in the Army by saying that "as women expand into different roles in the U.S. Army, it is clear that the heart of a warrior is not limited to one gender. They continue to break down the barriers and rise to the challenges set before them."
"The female fellowship supported by this program is invaluable and provides mentorship sometimes not available in heavily male dominated formations," said White.