View Mobile Site
Posted: August 24, 2017 11:37 a.m.
  • Bookmark and Share


Female FA officer paves way for future

Courtesy photo/

Capt. Nargis Kabiri (left), commander of Battery A, 1-9 FA, 1ABCT, 3rd ID, says the reenlistment oath to Sgt. 1st Class Andrew Sholz, a cannon crewmember from 1-9 FA, at Fort Stewart. Sholz reenlisted to continue his career as a cannon crew member.

View Larger

During World War I, women were allowed to join the military and serve as nurses and support staff. Since then, the military has taken leaps and bounds to level out the playing field for men and women serving their country.

Women in combat arms are few and far between. It’s not everyday you find women who are brave enough to step into a male-dominated work environment and perform at the same level they do.

Capt. Nargis Kabiri, commander of Battery A,  1st Battalion, 9th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division Artillery, has exceeded expectations and broken barriers.

Kabiri said she became the first female field artillery officer to graduate from West Point, first female to be in an M119 battery, to be in an Infantry Brigade Combat Team and field artillery commander for 3rd ID.

Kabiri was born in Pakistan and moved to New York with her family in 1986.

“My dad had a job with the Afghan government and his job became compromised as well as his life so we had to evacuate,” Kabiri said. “Working in the Afghan government, my dad had connections to get to the United States so he came to America on a temporary immigration status. Meanwhile, my mom was still in Afghanistan with five kids and pregnant with me. We became refugees in Pakistan long enough for me to be born and healthy.”

Once Kabiri’s Family was settled in the U.S., they moved to Minnesota, where Kabiri went to school and joined the Army National Guard.

“In high school, I was really interested in the Army and joined the National Guard for three years,” Kabiri said. “I ended up wanting to serve at a greater capacity, play basketball and go to school.”

Kabiri was recruited by the United States Military Academy, also known as West Point, to play basketball.

“I went to West Point for the wrong reasons because I wanted to get out of the Midwest and play basketball, but I like to think I stayed in for the right reason and that was to commission and become an officer in the United States Army,” Kabiri said.

Being a Pakistani native, Kabiri already knew how to speak Dari. She used that to her advantage and set out to be an Arabic major and become an intel analyst. West Point offered Cadet Troop Leader Training, where cadets branch out to units and shadow to see what that military occupational specialty entails.

“I was chosen to study abroad in Jordan. Through connections in Jordan, I was afforded opportunities to tag along on an intel mission,” said Kabiri. “I was grateful that I had that experience but it solidified that intel just wasn’t for me.”

Once Kabiri came to that realization, she focused on her classes and fitness while plotting what the next step was for her. It wasn’t until her crossfit instructor had a one-on-one talk with her that she had an “ah-ha” moment.

“I ended up going to his office to find out he was the field artillery branch representative,” Kabiri said. “I went in to talk to him and he kept mentioning field artillery. It was a whole new world to me and I was on board immediately.”

During her military career, Kabiri was afforded the opportunity to deploy to Afghanistan and was surprised by the reaction of some Afghan people.

According to Kabiri, the feedback she got from most of the male Afghans were mostly positive. One came up to her and said, ‘If one of my daughters could turn out like you, I’d have 20 daughters.’ That’s the best compliment she has ever received because there’s a perception that men are everything and women are subpar.

“I was nervous,” Kabiri said. “At first I thought that the people there would think I’m a traitor or be upset that I’m a woman outside of the house, but it wasn’t like that at all. The fact that they were so amazed by my accomplishments made them say ‘You give us hope for the generation of our kids.’”

Although Kabiri has had many positive experiences in her military career, she did face some pressure, she said.

“I thought that if I messed up, not only would that mistake be magnified because of my gender but also that I would ruin the opportunity for other females to be in artillery,” Kabiri said. “In hindsight, I would have told myself not to worry as much because everyone makes mistakes.”

Kabiri is now the mother of two children under 2-years-old. She found that the key to balancing her personal and professional life is to be present.

“When I am at home, I am at home; when I am at work, I am at work,” Kabiri said. “Although I do find myself having some mom guilt, I have to remind myself that I am being a role model for my little boys and I want them to find someone who is their equal and an independent thinker.”

According to Kabiri, women need to be three things: be self-aware, be themselves, and be physically fit.

“Self-awareness means being aware of the perceptions around you and making the right decisions,” Kabiri said. “It also means knowing your strengths and weaknesses. Being yourself means knowing yourself and not trying to be something or someone you are not; listen to your intuition. Lastly, women have to be physically fit in order to be successful in combat arms. At a minimum, be able to keep up with your Soldiers."

From 2010 to 2017, Kabiri has seen a change with women in combat arms jobs.

 

“What I’ve seen from 2010 to now is a change in culture,” Kabiri said. “Back then, I’d walk into a unit and people were hesitant to say anything because there was a female present. Now that the culture has changed, when females walk into a room, everything remains the same because its become the norm.”


Please wait ...