Story by: Sgt. Elizabeth Peña
Posted: Nov. 22, 2016
FORT HOOD, Texas – It was a proud moment for the Texas Army National Guard’s 3rd Battalion 136th Regional Training Institute when Army Sgt. Kayci Landes, walked across the stage as the U.S. Army’s first female cavalry scout Nov. 17, 2016, during a graduation ceremony held at Fort Hood.
The Department of Defense announced that all military occupations and positions would be open to women, Jan. 2016. Landes, a wife and mother of four, had been waiting for this moment since she was seven-years-old.
“I’ve always wanted to be in the combat military occupational specialty; I just wasn’t allowed. As soon as it opened I was like ‘hey combat MOS’s are open, I’m going to have this baby real quick then I’m going to re-enlist for it,” said Landes.
During the 20-day course Landes, along with her peers conducted 200 academic hours to include the Army’s new high physical demands test that both men and women needed to pass at the same standards.
“We’ve got a streak of seven years of not sending anyone home and we’re not afraid to break that,” said Texas Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Michael C. Dixon, an instructor at the cavalry scout course. “She did the 12-mile, she did the hand grenade toss, dummy drag and pulled out the Bradley main gun that weighs collectively almost 300 pounds. She’s done it all.”
The Texas National Guard’s 136th RTI, headquartered at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas, offers courses to any soldier in the U.S. Army, active, guard or reserve, including numerous MOS’s such as the cavalry scout.
Texas Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Kristopher E. Townsend, instructor and course manager, said his favorite part of being an instructor is educating his students.
“It’s training soldiers, bringing guys into an MOS that I love and being able to depart my experience, what I’ve learned in my career down to the joe’s and bring them into the fold of the cavalry,” said Townsend.
The Texas National Guard instructors led the course for six prior service members that had made the decision to re-class to 19D.
“They have a really good training set up; it’s better than most Army training. It’s been fun and interesting,” said Landes.
In 2014, the U.S. Army Training Command awarded the 136th RTI as an Institution of Excellence, the highest accreditation an RTI can receive.
“We always want to go beyond the program of instruction and make the course better than just the minimum,” Sgt. Steven L. Conwill, 136th RTI. “Being new here to Fort Hood we have access to a lot of newer things that might not have had access to at Camp Mabry or Camp Bowie.”
As the Army welcomes women into combat roles, Texas’ RTI will continue to train soldiers across the force to the best standard possible.
“The RTI is proud to be a part of training so many fine men and women,” said Texas Army National Guard Col. Kevin Countie, 136th RTI commander. “Supporting the Army’s readiness and combat performance is our top priority.”
Landes will be stationed with the 1st Cavalry Division, stationed at Fort Hood.