President Bush today nominated Army Lt. Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody for promotion, which, pending Senate approval, would make her the first woman to be a four-star officer in U.S. history.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates announced the president's nomination of Dunwoody as the commander of Army Materiel Command at Fort Belvoir, Va., in a news release published today by the Defense Department.
Dunwoody, who has served in several command positions since her Army commission in 1975, including her current role as the Army's deputy chief of staff for logistics, is one of five women now fulfilling three-star flag officer duties.
In 1970, Col. Anna Mae Hays blazed the trail when she became chief of the Army Nurse Corps, achieving the highest rank -- brigadier general -- of any woman servicemember at the time. But as Dunwoody's pending promotion underscores, the role of women in the U.S. military has expanded significantly since then.
Fifty-seven active-duty women and 47 female reservists wear stars on their shoulders in the armed forces. Moreover, roughly 194,000 women make up 14 percent of all active duty forces. Since Sept. 11, 2001, more than 193,400 women have deployed in support of U.S. operations.
The casualty figures of current conflicts provide a thumbnail sketch of a force structure that increasingly depends on women in combat zones. Ninety-seven women have died in Iraq, and 585 others have suffered injuries there, according to Defense Department statistics.
If confirmed by the Senate, Dunwoody would command the teams of soldiers, civilians and contractors responsible for providing materiel readiness and development, new technology, acquisition support and logistics.
By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service