By Danielle Wallingsford KirklandNovember 10, 2015
FORT BENNING, Ga., (Nov.11 2015) -- Brig. Gen. Michaelene Kloster relinquished command of the 98th Training Division to Brig. Gen. Tammy Smith at a change of command ceremony held Nov. 8 at the National Infantry Museum.
Smith said it is a privilege to be selected for command.
"I know they have selected me on my potential and it is imperative, and I have a responsibility to live up to that potential so my Soldiers are best prepared as they can be," she said.
As the incoming commander, Smith said she has a lot of enthusiasm and hopes her background and experience will bring a unique perspective to the unit.
"Some of the jobs I have held, working in the Pentagon and working in a strategy role, (have allowed) me to look to the long term. I want to be the person, as the commander, who is setting the conditions for success and doing that in a long-term way," she said.
Smith said the main role of the 98th Division is to provide drill sergeants to the training base.
"I want to increase the pipeline of individuals who want to be drill sergeants in the Army Reserve," she said. "Taking it to the next level for me is to make sure that we are at 100 percent strength of our drill sergeants so we can support the training base."
Maj. Gen. Mark McQueen, commanding general of the 108th Training Command, said Smith was chosen because she has a proven record of excellence.
"Gen. Smith brings a vast array of skills that will set up the conditions of success for her to command the 98th Training Division," he said. "She's had a lot of command opportunities and she has worked at the tactical level, the operational level and the strategic level. She will take those skills and bring them to the 98th and do well with our drill sergeant mission and transforming citizen volunteers into future Soldiers."
Kloster, who was the first female general to serve at Fort Benning, said there is no better job in the Army than to be a commander.
"Your number one priority is taking care of Soldiers and for the last three years I had the distinctive honor of taking care of a group of Soldiers who have the unique mission of training our new recruits ... drill sergeants who are trusted by parents to train their sons and daughters to be able to fight and survive during wars," she said. "Being able to take care of that group of professionals with that awesome mission was the highlight of my career."
McQueen said Kloster had many challenges placed upon her with operational missions during her command.
"She has helped not only transform citizen volunteers into warriors, but she has also helped our Navy personnel as they prepared to transfer over to Afghanistan for Army missions," he said.
Kloster, who will transition to the Individual Ready Reserve, said after seven years in command and a battle with breast cancer in between, she is ready for a break.
"I'm tired, so I'm looking forward to doing absolutely nothing," she said. "I'm going to chop wood at my house and I'm going to ride my brand new Harley Davidson."
McQueen said the change of command marked a great day in the history of the 98th Training Division and showed that gender is not a limitation in the Army.
"We've had two very successful general officers, both female. There is not a glass ceiling in the Army or Army Reserves," he said.
"Gender is not an issue. It is based on capability and potential and that's what we've seen in Gen. Kloster and we will see in Gen. Smith."