The first woman to assume command of a U.S. Army infantry division has been announced by the California National Guard.
Brig. Gen. Laura Yeager, a former UH-60 Black Hawk pilot, will assume command of the 40th Infantry Division during a ceremony at the Joint Forces Training Base, Los Alamitos, California, on June 29 at 11 a.m., Guard officials said in a news release this weekend.
Yeager will be the first woman in history to lead a U.S. Army infantry division, officials said. She will be taking command from Maj. Gen. Mark Malanka, who is retiring.
Yeager currently serves as the commander of Joint Task Force North, U.S. Northern Command, at Fort Bliss, Texas. That organization is tasked to support the interdiction efforts of U.S. federal law enforcement agencies.
During her career, Yeager flew Black Hawk helicopters on a combat deployment in 2011 to Iraq and commanded the California National Guard’s 40th Combat Aviation Brigade.
Readiness shortfalls on big-ticket items are straining the National Guard's ability to respond to contingencies, leaders said.
She began her active-duty military service in May 1986 after receiving her commission from the Reserve Officer Training Corps at California State University Long Beach, according to the Guard release.
She finished military helicopter training in 1989, and first served as a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter aeromedical evacuation pilot.
“As a female, I have found the military to provide opportunities and benefits unmatched by any profession,” she told the Defense Department news service in May 2016. “Clearly, females are in the minority within the military, yet in every assignment I have held, my mostly male peers, subordinates and superiors, have supported me, treated me with respect, coached, mentored and advised me."
“At the same time, I have been inspired by the incredibly strong and amazing women I have served with and for,” she said after being promoted to brigadier general. “I would not have achieved this rank without every one of them."
Yeager will be taking command of a storied military unit that was first formed in 1917.
Soldiers from the 40th Infantry Division have fought in World War I, World War II and the Korean War. More recently, the division’s soldiers have deployed to Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq and numerous combatant command locations.
In March, the division headquarters returned to U.S. soil after successfully completing a train, advise and assist mission in Afghanistan, Guard officials said in their news release.