It took nearly 40 years, but the Arkansas Army National Guard’s glass ceiling finally been broken — by a female West Point graduate.
Col. Patricia M. Anslow, of North Little Rock is slated to become the guard’s first female general in its 176-year history.
She earned powerful respect for her combat role in 2006 through 2008 as commander of the Jonesboro-based 875th Engineer Battalion in Iraq where her unit received praise for their role in clearing hidden explosive devices off roadways.
Up until the mid-1970s women were allowed only in medical units in the Arkansas Army National Guard.
In a post-Vietnam environment where recruits were dwindling in an all volunteer Army, the Army National Guard reluctantly took that step to open most of the non-combat military occupational specialities to women and it was decades later before a few combat slots also opened.
Since that time Arkansas has had some strong women serve as full-bird colonels in spots formerly occupied only by men.
Retired Col. Cissy Coleman Rucker is one of those. She was sworn in as a private on Jan. 1, 1975, in the 176th Public Affairs Detachment when she was a reporter for the Arkansas Gazette.
Gov. Mike Beebe recently named Rucker director of the state’s veterans affairs department.
Anslow officially will be promoted to brigadier general at 2 p.m. Saturday at the National Guard Professional Education Center’s Militia Hall auditorium at Camp Joseph T. Robinson, but her date of rank officially will be June 22, 2012.
Anslow was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers at West Point, N.Y., on May 24, 1989.
She received a Bachelor of Science degree in geography from the United States Military Academy that same year. She also earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in 1997; a Master of Science degree in water resource planning from Johns Hopkins University in 2005; and a Master of Strategic Studies from the Army War College in 2009.
Army observers said appointment to the War College is the first sign someone considers that candidate general officer material.
Her first military assignment after West Point was at Fort Bragg, N.C., where she served as a platoon leader with the 100th Topographic Engineer Company and deployed with the 20th Airborne Engineer Brigade in 1990 during the Gulf War.
She later served as adjutant of the 30th Engineer Battalion before transitioning to the Arkansas Army National Guard in 1993.
In the Arkansas Guard she has served in a variety of construction, facility, and combat engineer command and staff positions with the Camp Robinson Institute Support Unit, the 25th Rear Operations Center, the 875th Engineer Battalion (Corps) (Mechanized), and the 87th Troop Command. Anslow has also served as deputy chief of staff for engineering in the Joint Force Headquarters.
She deployed as commander of the 875th Engineer Battalion in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom 2006-2008 for the 411th and 20th Engineer brigades.
During the Surge Operation, the battalion also served as Task Force Engineers for the 3rd Infantry Division. She most recently commanded the 87th Troop Command from July 2010 until her promotion to brigadier general effective June 22, 2012.
Anslow began her civilian career for the Little Rock District, Army Corps of Engineers in 1994 and currently serves as the Chief of the Planning and Environmental Division.