FORT BENNING, GA — CPT Christina Plumley, Civil Affairs Team leader, 97th CA Battalion, 95th CA Brigade, Special Operations, Airborne, completed the Reconnaissance Surveillance Leader Course and became the first female to graduate from the course on April 16 at Fort Benning Georgia.
The RSLC is a 26-day course taught by Echo Company, 4th Ranger Training Battalion, Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade at Fort Benning, Ga. The course is designed to teach the fundamentals of dismounted reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition to Soldiers. RSLC is physically and mentally challenging to the students, where one block of instruction builds upon the next.
“The training for this course was hard,” said Plumley. “I’ve spent weeks rucking and doing land navigation, with my CAT Non-commissioned Officer and a Medic from my company. Having my team Non-commissioned officer definitely helped when we were training because we pushed each other.”
The Medic and my team’s NCO completed the course with me, which I feel helped because no matter what we were going through, we knew we had each other’s back and it gave each one of us someone to lean on, Plumley said.
As she was winding down her training to begin the course, she received some news about her class. “I found out about a week before the course started that I was going to be the only female in the class,” said Plumley. “I saw this as an opportunity to show my classmates that when working with a female in a reconnaissance and surveillance mission after the course, I wanted to set the impression that I could change how they view working alongside women Soldiers.”
Once CPT Plumley arrived at Fort Benning to begin RSLC, she found out some more news. She found out that if she graduates from the course, she would be the first female to graduate from the Reconnaissance Surveillance Leader Course.
“This definitely added more pressure for me to not only finish the course but graduate,” Plumley stated. “The course is tough enough as it was and now finding out that I was not only the only female in the class, but if I graduated just added more pressure on me to prove to the other students and cadre that a female could complete this course. This was important to me because I wanted to set an example for other women in the military who might have been discouraged from attending RSLC before knowing that no female has passed the course, that it was a possibility for women to graduate.”
CPT Plumley — a West Virginia native — graduated from West Point as an Intelligence Officer in 2014. Her first duty station was in Germany where she was assigned to the 4th Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment. There she completed the Spur Ride and earned her silver spurs.
Plumley said, “The Spur Ride was a challenge that at that time, I had not experienced before. It consisted of a 48-hour event where we completed a 12 mile ruck while carrying 75 pounds, followed by events that tested basic Soldier skills, tasks and assessments then concluded with a recon mission. This was my first opportunity to show those who I supported as an Intelligence Officer, that I belong by working alongside other scouts and earn credibility among my peers. After earning my Silver Spurs, it gave me more pride when I wore them on our Friday formations that, though not a cavalry scout, I earned my spurs just like they did.”
In 2017, CPT Plumley went through Civil Affairs Assessment and Selection and then completed the CA Qualification Course in 2019 to become a Civil Affairs Officer.
“Two things that really appealed to me about joining Special Operations Civil Affairs,” said Plumley. “First was the opportunity to be a team leader. I found the idea of being a leader at the lowest echelon really exciting. The second reason was that I was really interested in the CA mission, not only do you have to demonstrate tactical proficiency but above and beyond that you have to demonstrate emotional intelligence, cultural competency, the ability to communicate in a variety of different environments”
RSLC teaches students how to lead under stress and tests you on how to operate as a leader, said Plumley. She described her motivation to attend the course as “an opportunity to better equip myself to lead a 4-person CA team in a tactical environment, while achieving a personal goal to train for and attend a physically and mentally demanding course. I knew it would be a gut check and rather than shying away from the challenge—I leaned in.” She also attributes her successful completion of the course to her team.