Corps employee: Arkansas National Guard's first female general officer
October 17, 2012
Patricia M. Anslow
Official Position: Chief of Planning & Environmental Division
Years with SWL: 18 years
Hometown: Troy, New York
Education: BS Geography, West Point; BS Biology, University at Little Rock; MS Water Resource Planning, Johns Hopkins University; Master of Strategic Studies at the US Army War College
Hobbies: Anything that involves sunshine and water!
Qs & As
Q: On June 6, 2012 you became the Arkansas National Guard's first female general officer. How do you balance your demanding job with the Corps and your military career?
A: It's not a simple task and juggling two blackberries is not fun. I have great staffs in both places that make my job easier. I've always called the National Guard my weekend and evening job, and this new position as the deputy adjutant general means a few more weekends and more hours in the evenings.
Q: Has your position with SWL helped in your military career or vise versa?
A: Most definitely, by having both positions it has helped me grow and become more effective. My opportunity to attend the US Army War College as a member of the National Guard improved my strategic thinking and understanding of our national security which helps me as a planner in the Little Rock District. That is an opportunity not available to many USACE civilians. My work with local, state, and federal agencies within the Corps of Engineers has improved my negotiation and strategic communication skills. These are critical skills for senior military leaders that are not often taught in military education or gained directly through military exercises. Supervising military and civilian employees is often very different. I have learned much over the years through both experiences that improves my ability to lead. I feel very fortunate to have both careers and experiences.
Q: So you outrank your boss at SWL. Has that been awkward or caused issues?
A: No, because I do not out rank my District Engineer. He will always be Sir (or maybe Ma'am someday) to me. I only wear the rank (literally or figuratively) while at the National Guard. It is highly unlikely we would be in a military situation together. The only exception is a state emergency where I get called into service. However, if there are opportunities for me to foster the dialogue between the National Guard and Corps of Engineers I always look for ways to do so. Throughout my career with the Corps I've learned a lot from the great examples set by District Engineers and military officers throughout the organization. This is another one of the advantages of working for the Corps and being in the National Guard. Every day I am able to witness and embrace great military leaders, and that has improved my military leadership skills.
Q: What are your short and long term goals for each of your positions?
A: There are currently many challenges with both employers. Budget constraints will continue to be a focus as we try to maintain and build competency. At the National Guard we have transitioned from a strategic reserve to an operational force. In the short-term we still need to reset after 10 years of war, while working to maintain a relevant force. For the long-term it means returning to our standards of strength and training management. We do that by empowering our junior leaders, pushing them to be adaptive and creative. Concurrently, the senior leadership must keep an eye on the next threat in order to prioritize constrained resources. This is no easy task as we prepare for any contingency large or small; domestic or abroad. The Planning Community of Practice at the Corps of Engineers is also undergoing a transition. Our ability to implement SMART (Specific Measurable Attainable Risk-informed Timely) planning is critical to the overall success of the civil works transformation strategy. In the short-term, for Little Rock planners, that means we will improve our ability to be a regional asset. We will also empower our planners (and all members of planning teams) to be critical and creative thinkers. We have to strengthen our ability to make tough decisions, under constraints, and communicate risk. We must do this to achieve our long-term goal of completing most planning studies in a three year time period under three million dollars. And we do this to regain the confidence of the public and congress in our ability to provide relevant water resource solutions to the nation.