The Trusteeship

Member Interview: Major General Angela Salinas

Major General Angela “Angie” Salinas is the director of Manpower Management Division, Manpower and Reserve Affairs, Headquarters U.S. Marine Corps, Arlington, Virginia.

Major General Salinas enlisted into the Marine Corps in May 1974 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in December 1977 through the Enlisted Commissioning Program.  She has been a trailblazer throughout her career earning numerous “firsts.”  The first woman in the Marine Corps to command a recruiting station – June 1989 Recruiting Station Charleston; the first woman assigned as a combat service support ground monitor responsible for the assignments of over 1000 senior officers- June 1992; the first female assigned as a plans and policy officer for a major combatant command – 1999; the first woman to serve as a recruiting district commanding officer – 12th Marine Corps District May 2001 and the first woman to command the Marine Corps Recruit Depot/Western Recruiting Region in San Diego, CA – August 2006.  She is the highest-ranking Hispanic in the Marine Corps and the first Latina selected to the rank of Major General.

Angie is a graduate of Dominican College of San Rafael, has a Master’s from the Naval War College, and is a graduate of Amphibious Warfare School, the Naval War College’s Command and Staff College, and the Army War College.

Many groups have honored Angie including Federal Employed Women, The National Image and Latina Style Magazine.  She has been identified as one of the “top 100 most influential Hispanics in the country” and one of “the 80 most elite women” by Hispanic Business Magazine. San Diego Magazine named her one of the “Six Women Who Move the City” and the San Diego Regional Chamber awarded her the “Spirit of San Diego Award.”  The California Legislature named her Woman of the Year for District 76, and she received the “2008 Trail Blazer Award” from the National Latina Business Women.

Describe your present position – duties, responsibilities.   Director, Manpower Management, Manpower and Reserve Affairs, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps.

Duties and responsibilities: The Director is responsible to the Deputy Commandant for Manpower and Reserve Affairs for all Marine Corps manpower issues affecting the 202k Marines in the Corps.

Under my charge are over 450 personnel, military and civilian that comprise 10 directorates with duties ranging from assignments, to awards, to promotions, to retirements, to records with an operating budget of over

What was your path to get to your present position? The Commandant of the Marine Corps assigns the general officers of the Marine Corps to positions looking for best qualified and needs of the Marine Corps.  My extensive experience in manpower and previous assignment within the division contributed to my assignment.

Did you have mentors?  Who were they? I’ve had many mentors throughout my career… both personal and professional. As with so many of us, my mom was my greatest mentor.  She provided the constant daily support and wisdom I truly came to appreciate as I matured.

Many Marines, both junior and senior, were contributing mentors along the way… there were few senior-ranking women available to seek out so I found myself searching for those who demonstrated leadership traits and qualities I sought.  Integrity, humor, character, strength, decisiveness, people oriented, honorable;

What obstacles did you face? (from a woman’s perspective) For a woman, just joining the military, nonetheless the Marine Corps in 1974 was viewed as abnormal. It was the end of the Viet Nam War, the draft had been replaced with the “All volunteer force” and anyone who joined the military was considered a loser.  The Marine Corps’ strength was over 180K and less than 2000 were women.  Only occupational fields open for women were essentially administrative in nature… disbursing, supply, vehicle operators, administration.  The women in the Marine Corps were a “corps within the Corps” with different chains of command.  Not until 1977 when DOPMA eliminated dual tracks, were women totally integrated women into each Service branch.

What were your successes? I would like to think the Marines who served with me were the successes.  Many earned college degrees, while others were promoted and made the Corps a career.  More returned to their communities better Americans taking leadership positions and becoming mentors to the next generation.

Along the way, their success made me proud and made me look good.

Was there any single characteristic that gave you the strength to pursue your aspirations? Determination.  To me, it was like climbing a ladder… you can see the top… each rung takes you higher and it gets a little scarier the farther up you go… but as you climb higher, you’re never quite sure if one of the rungs will break and you’ll find yourself at the bottom again… with a crowd…some cheering and other trying to help you get up.

Were there any lessons learned?  How did you apply them? Lots of lessons… first… “stuff happens” accept it and move on…

There is no success as an individual… it’s about the team…we’re only as good as the people who serve with us… and of course, you have to love what you do. 

How has the role of women in the Marine Corps changed? Today, women serve in every military occupational specialty except combat arms. From ammunitions technician to pilot, from intelligence officer to logistician, from public affairs to aircraft mechanic, from military policeman to weapons repairer.  Women today are married, mothers, and wives.  In 1974, women could separate from the Marine Corps if pregnant and their husbands were not considered dependents unless they relied on more than 50% of their wives income.  They did not rate base housing or medical benefits nor could they shop in the commissary.

Today women serve at every rank, from private to sergeant Major, from lieutenant to general.  In 1974, women could not be selected to the rank of general.  Military Women’s husbands were not on equal footing with the wives of military men.  Husbands were not automatically granted dependent status with the rights and privileges.  Husbands had to be “classified” as dependent on their wives income to rate an ID card or medical coverage.  Pregnant military women could “opt out” of their contract and be released from military service.  Today, the military is the model for equal opportunity.

 

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