AUSTIN, Texas – When Lt. Col. Jacqueline “Jo” Newell accepted an ROTC scholarship in college, she wasn’t expecting to go to war.
An out-of-state student at Georgia Tech and the youngest of six children, Newell was exploring ways to financially support her academic pursuit, unaware that the 9/11 terrorist attacks would take place just three months shy of her graduation.
“When 9/11 occurred, it was very clear that my generation of ROTC cadets was going to be going into an era of conflict,” Newell said.
After commissioning as a Quartermaster officer and joining the 3rd Infantry Division, Newell deployed to the Middle East in March of 2003.
“One of the most challenging things that I’ve done in my life was leading a platoon of 28 Soldiers through the invasion of Iraq,” Newell said.
During the deployment, members of the platoon – many also new to active duty and to operating in conflict zones – supported more than 6,000 miles of convoy operations.
“There was a lot of learning and growing that we all did at that time,” Newell said.
The desire to serve, specifically in roles supporting Soldiers, is something that stuck with Newell, who went on to make the Army her career. Her subsequent roles included Battalion S4, Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff of the Multi-National Security Transition Command – Iraq, and Force Manager at U.S. Army Pacific Command and Special Operations Command. Inspired to learn more about effective people and business management, she also obtained an MBA from the University of Texas in 2021.
Now a Force Management Branch Chief at Army Futures Command, Newell brings a passion for leadership to her interactions with the Soldiers and Civilians on her team.
“Getting to have direct teaching, coaching, mentoring and professional development of other officers has been really rewarding,” Newell said.
Force Management officers across the Army leverage expert problem-solving abilities to ensure Army organizations and units are consistently well-equipped and mission-ready.
The discipline requires mastery of highly technical skills as well as the ability to absorb a large amount of information, understand its relevance and “distill it down into a few succinct points to make recommendations to leaders,” Newell said.
At Army Futures Command, the Force Management process involves assessing organizational structure, personnel and equipment, as well as analyzing emerging growth requirements and the strategic resourcing of future force designs.
The command is “still defining how we organize our enterprise to do what we’ve been established to do,” Newell explained. An integral part of modernization is identifying gaps and areas for improvement early on, and Force Management officers are able to lend important insight in this area.
This focus on enabling people preparedness – what Newell describes as “the alignment of requirements and resources to deliver modernized organizations over a period of time” – is critical to Army modernization but also deeply meaningful to Newell.
Her strong commitment to serving others has been woven throughout her time in the Army, and continues to guide her approach to work and life. “I had a set of priorities that I wanted to be firmly rooted in, and that was serve God, serve my family and serve my country,” Newell said of her path from college to now.
She added that in the Army, “what motivates me is believing that the work that I do has lasting meaning, that it’s impactful and that it’s good – that the overall result of the work that I do improves the Army and improves the outcome for a Soldier somewhere.”