Women were not allowed to join the National Guard until the Cold War in the mid-1950s, and they were only allowed to join as medical officers. It took women more than four decades to get to the level of a state adjutant general, or top commander.
And now, for the first time in the nation’s history, a state National Guard Maryland’s is led by a command staff of all women!
The top four leaders in the state’s National Guard are all women, and they are all mothers, and three of them are African American.
The first African American and the first woman to hold the role of adjutant general for the Maryland National Guard is Maj. Gen. Linda L Singh.
Brig. Gen. Janeen L. Birckhead took over as assistant adjutant general for Army in June, and Brig. Gen. April Vogel began serving as an assistant general for Air in August.
And, Command Sgt. Maj. Perlisa D. Wilson became a senior enlisted adviser for Maryland’s National Guard in December.
Singh said that the female-powered staff was entirely unintentional, as she was by no means seeking an all-female leadership team when the positions opened up. She just wanted the most qualified candidates available, and she didn’t even realize that it was going to line up this way.
Women across the country continue to rise in the ranks of the military, and they are taking on roles that were previously only filled by men.
A woman is leading an infantry platoon in the Marines for the first time, and a federal judge ruled in February that a male-only draft is unconstitutional.
However, the military continues to be a field dominated by men even in Maryland, as Birckhead was the only woman out of 25 colonels in the Maryland Army National Guard.
Singh said that she wanted leadership that’s competent, and if they happened to be a female leadership, they had to be even more competent than their peers.