By Ron Matz

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A big change at the Maryland National Guard last year made history — by making its leadership all-female.

“We have worked hard in the last four years to diversify our leadership team. We’ve really wanted the team to be more reflective of the organization itself and the community itself,” said Major General Linda Singh, Adjutant General of Maryland in October.

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The Maryland National Guard is made up of 5,700 members. About 20 percent of the force is female.

Janeen Birckhead, now the assistant adjutant general of Maryland, is one of the guard’s newest leaders

“It’s exciting because we have different perspectives than our male counterparts. We’re all mothers, so coming from that perspective, that is something that really ties us and binds us. At the same time, we’re soldiers and we’re mothers too,” Birckhead said.

There are 45 adjutant generals, or senior military leaders, across the country. Maryland now has the only all-female leadership team.

“It’s come full circle, to see all of us rise to the senior positions in this organization is very great for me. It’s a humbling experience. I absolutely love it,” said Command Sgt. Major Perlisa Wilson of the Maryland National Guard last year.

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The changes mark a new era for women and the military in Maryland.

“It just means that sometimes we, the ones who are sitting at the table, have to be the voice for the individuals who are not in the room,” said Major Gen. Singh.

However, this unique distinction won’t last for long. Gen. Singh just announced she will be retiring at the end of the summer.

First African-American, Woman To Lead Maryland National Guard Major General Linda Singh Retiring

Gov. Larry Hogan has named Leonardtown native Major General Timothy E. Gowen as Singh’s successor. He comes back to Maryland from a post in Austin, Texas.

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Originally Posted Oct. 25, 2018.
Updated July 19, 2019.