(Press Release) Governor Brown and the California National Guard have announced the promotion of Col. Sylvia R. Crockett to the rank of brigadier general in a ceremony at the state Capitol in Sacramento on Wednesday, March 28th.
Brig. Gen. Crockett, who serves as director of strategic communications for the state’s Military Department, is the first Latina to attain the rank of a general officer in the California National Guard.
“Her example of breaking the glass ceiling, not only for Latinas but for women in general, I think she’s a great role model. I’m going to talk to my daughter who’s 12-years-old about this great woman,” said state Sen. Lou Correa, who chairs the Senate’s Veterans Affairs Committee. “This is really about looking forward based on all [her] past accomplishments. I’m excited about working with this new general. I think it’s going to be a great fit and we’re going to hit it hard.”
Crockett’s promotion fell during Women’s History Month, a tradition with origins in Sonoma, Calif., which observed the nation’s first Women’s History Week in March 1978. The annual March celebration raises awareness of the importance of equality and diversity in the United States.
The U.S. military and the California National Guard have long led the way in recognizing the importance of women’s and minorities’ contributions and harnessing their skills. And service members’ vision of what they can achieve in their careers is shaped by whether they see individuals of similar backgrounds excelling and earning recognition.
“With the amount of Hispanic people in California, it’s a great opportunity to serve in a position that in many ways will serve as an example for many young women and men in the Latino or Latina community to realize that they too can reach the top,” said Brig. Gen. Crockett. “The Army as a whole was the first organization to integrate.
The U.S. Armed Forces became a deliberately inclusive organization in 1948, years before the Supreme Court’s landmark 1954 decision to de-segregate public schools in Brown v. Topeka Board of Education. The U.S. military understands that diversity encompasses different cultural backgrounds but also different skills, experiences and talents. With proper leadership, therefore, diversity can increase military agility and responsiveness.
This is especially important in today’s complex, rapidly changing military environment, which requires collaborative work with many stakeholders, including international and civilian partners. The military is also committed to operational diversity, and missions involving multiple military branches have shown that a seamless integration of different cultures can be accomplished and positively influence the fight.
“[This position] takes a lot of skill, which you have and we recognize that. I’m very glad also that you’ll be going back to our congressional delegation and beating the drum to support the National Guard, because it has been shortchanged with the wars that have been going on,” said Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr., who hosted the event. “We’ve been neglecting the kind of investment it takes to really have the kind of state militia that historically we have enjoyed and we need for all the things the Guard does going forward.”
Maj. Gen. David S. Baldwin, the adjutant general of the California National Guard, has expressed his commitment to ensuring the Guard increasingly reflects the racial, ethnic and gender diversity of the state it serves, both in its leadership and across its ranks. Minority and female leaders hold some of the highest positions in the California National Guard, including command sergeant major, or top enlisted leader, of the California National Guard (an African-American man); the deputy adjutant general of the California Air National Guard (a colonel and an African-American man); and Brig. Gen. Crockett, the director of strategic communications.
“We are putting her into a very, very prominent position in her full-time capacity, where she is going to take over for us all of our strategic communications, which includes the Public Affairs Directorate, our state legislation, working with our friends in the state Senate and Assembly and of course working with our enormous California congressional delegation,” said Maj. Gen. David S. Baldwin, adjutant general for the California National guard. “She will be helping us set the chart and the way for the future in order to reshape the future force structure of the National Guard … and help us address our Soldier, Airman, civilian and family care issues.”
Crockett has served the Cal Guard since July 1982, when she joined the California Air National Guard’s 129th Rescue Wing in Santa Clara County. She transferred to the California Army National Guard in 1984 and entered the California Military Academy. She earned her commission as an officer the following year.
After holding several critical positions in her Guard career, in 1999 Crockett was assigned as the executive officer for the California Military Department; in 2004, she became the Department’s deputy chief of staff, personnel; and in 2006 she took command of the 223rd Infantry Regiment (Combat Arms), making her the first woman to command that vital training element. Crockett later became the first woman to serve as the Military Department’s director of plans and operations and the first to serve as the Military Department’s chief of staff.
In addition to being the current director of strategic communications for the California Military Department, Crockett is also the assistant commander (support) for the CNG’s 40th Infantry Division.
Crockett holds a bachelor of arts degree in criminal justice from Sacramento State University and a masters degree in national security strategy from the National War College. Among other awards, Crockett has earned the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal and Army Reserve Component Overseas Service Ribbon.