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Military Milestone

Ann E. Dunwoody becomes first female four-star general in United States history

By Laura Leigh Davidson | November 17 , 2008
U.S. Army General Ann E. Dunwoody smiles during her promotion ceremony as she was pinned by Chief of Staff of the Army General George W. Casey, left, and her husband, Craig Brotchie, at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., November 14, 2008. (Department of Defense photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Molly A. Burgess)
U.S. Army General Ann E. Dunwoody smiles during her promotion ceremony as she was pinned by Chief of Staff of the Army General George W. Casey, left, and her husband, Craig Brotchie, at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., November 14, 2008. (Department of Defense photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Molly A. Burgess)

Ann E. Dunwoody is the first female general in history to receive four-stars. Dunwoody's promotion was recently made official in a ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.

President George W. Bush nominated Dunwoody to become a four-star general in June. The promotion then had to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

Dunwoody now commands the Army Materiel Command (AMC) at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. The AMC provides all materials to every person in Army uniform. "If a soldier shoots it, drives it, flies it, wears it, communicates with it, or eats it—AMC provides it," according to the Army Web site.

The new four-star general will oversee more than 60,000 military and civilian employees who are located at 149 locations worldwide, including more than 40 states and 50 countries. The Army describes this kind of supply operation as "logistics," and the people who oversee the work as "logisticians."

When Dunwoody enlisted in the United States Army in 1975, she never dreamed of achieving such a honor.

"Thirty-three years after I took the oath as a second lieutenant, I have to tell you this is not exactly how I envisioned my life unfolding," Dunwoody said on Friday.

In fact, Dunwoody didn't think her military career would last more than a couple of years. Her original goals were to teach physical education and raise a family. But Dunwoody found life in the military to be a natural fit.

General George Casey, chief of staff of the Army, and Dunwoody's husband, Craig Brotchie, pinned on her new stars as the audience clapped and yelled "hooah."

"What's happening here today is something our Army can celebrate and take pride in," Casey said of her achievement.

Dunwoody's superiors are confident she is up to the task of commanding such important and large-scale operations.

"She is recognized as one of the foremost military logisticians in her generation," Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said at the promotion ceremony on Friday.

Dunwoody is now one of only 11 four-star generals in the U.S. Army. Her promotion marks a major step in the expanding role of women in the military.

Women make up more than 14 percent of the active Army. But they still cannot serve in units that engage in direct combat. However, there are many more opportunities for female soldiers than ever before. Women now serve as pilots, intelligence officers, paratroopers, and mechanics—roles traditionally reserved for men.

Dunwoody thanked the women who came before her when her promotion was confirmed in July.

"I recognize that with this selection, some will view me as a trailblazer," she said then, "but it's important that we remember the generations of women, whose dedication, commitment, and quality of service helped open the doors of opportunity for us today."

Learn more about the current role of women in the military at http://www.army.mil/women, and don't miss the timeline, Women in the U.S Army.

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