The re-enlistment ceremony at Joint Base Lewis-McChord was normal enough. Army Sgt. Kayci Landes decided to switch jobs to change her basic duties in the Army. However, many see her new position as part of the trailblazing move to include women in all combat positions in the U.S. military.
First Female Cavalry Scout
Landes spent five years repairing AH-64 Apache helicopters, including a deployment Afghanistan in 2012, as part of the 16th Combat Aviation Brigade, 7th Infantry Division, I Corps out of Washington state. In October 2016, the soldier will transfer to Fort Benning, Georgia, to begin 16 weeks of training as a cavalry scout. In the history of the Army, no female has held that position until now. Landes said she’s looking forward to the challenge of her combat position, even as her husband’s friends joke about her new digs.
Landes has known she wanted to have a combat role in the Army since she was a little 7-year old girl, when one of her brothers enlisted. Another brother joined when she was 14. On top of that, she’s married to Army Spc. Brendan Stahl-Dugger, a combat engineer out of the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. Landes said she is more than capable of handling the job of a cavalry scout.
What Does a Cavalry Scout Do?
A cavalry scout, or 19D in the Army’s job categories, serves as the eyes and ears of unit commanders in battle situations. Cavalry scouts ride in advance of main lines, relay information on enemy activity back to the main force, and direct the employment of weapons to targets. Cavalry scouts also determine how units should move through terrain as tanks advance. This grueling job takes dedication, focus, and top physical and mental strength. Landes has all of these attributes and more.
The soldier has four children, including a 11-week-old infant, all of whom understand what military life is like, with two parents in the Army. Landes sees her new position as another day at the office when she tries to do the job she was trained to do. She realizes she needs to earn the respect of her peers, but some solders already look up to Landes as someone worthy of a combat role. Command Sgt. Maj. Jack Love, sergeant major of the 7th Infantry Division, realizes the historic important of Landes moving into a cavalry role. He said he’s pumped up that more women are taking combat roles in the military, and welcomes trailblazers such as the newest 19D.
Landes doesn’t see herself as trailblazing, even though the modern military continues to blaze trails for women in all aspects of the service.