History-making Selection for 7th ID

History-making Selection for 7th ID

Maj. Gen. Michelle Schmidt
Photo by: LinkedIn

A career military intelligence officer with numerous combat deployments, including with the Army’s most elite special operations forces, has been selected for another trailblazing assignment.

Maj. Gen. Michelle Schmidt will command the 7th Infantry Division at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, making her the first woman to lead one of the Army’s active-duty maneuver divisions.

She most recently was director of force development in the office of the deputy Army chief of staff for resources and plans, G-8. Her assignment to lead the 7th Infantry Division was announced in an Aug. 14 DoD news release.

Her selection comes after Maj. Gen. Laura Yeager became the first woman to assume command of a U.S. Army infantry division when she took command of the California National Guard’s 40th Infantry Division in 2019. Yeager is now retired.

Activated in 1917, the 7th Infantry Division fought in Europe in World War I and the Pacific in World War II. Its soldiers also fought during the Korean War, remaining on the line at the Demilitarized Zone until 1971. The division deployed to Honduras for Operation Golden Pheasant and to Panama for Operation Just Cause. In 2015, the division headquarters deployed to Afghanistan for a yearlong deployment.

Today, it enables and sustains two Stryker brigade combat teams and a combat aviation brigade and participates in exercises and operations in support of U.S. Army Pacific and the Indo-Pacific region.

A 1992 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, Schmidt began her career as a platoon leader in the 2nd Infantry Division in South Korea, according to an Army biography. She was a company commander in the 82nd Airborne Division, served as the intelligence officer for the division’s 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment and later for the division, and was the senior intelligence officer and squadron commander for 1st Special Operations Detachment-Delta.

Schmidt also was the intelligence brigade commander for Joint Special Operations Command, chief of staff for the 82nd Airborne Division, chief of the Initiatives Group for the vice chief of staff of the Army, director of intelligence for U.S. Special Operations Command and deputy commanding general of the 10th Mountain Division. Before being assigned to the Army G-8, she was director of operations for the Defense Intelligence Agency.

In addition to a deployment to Haiti in support of Operation Uphold Democracy early in her career, Schmidt deployed numerous times to Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan between 2003 and 2021.

In an episode of the Association of the U.S. Army’s “Army Matters” podcast in September, Schmidt said she has enjoyed her Army career despite the tough jobs and numerous deployments. “The best part about it has, of course, been the people,” she said.

About 10 years ago, a mentor gave her some advice about leading soldiers. “We can’t just talk about it, you have to train it,” Schmidt said. “You have to train folks how to be good leaders the same way we would train people how to shoot or do PT. You actually have to work on it.”

And despite her years of experience, Schmidt said she’s still working on her leadership abilities. “I learn every single day, and I take note of how to be better the next day,” she said.