Brig. Gen. Combs becomes first female commander at Ft. Knox


by Brooke Hasch

Posted on March 6, 2014 at 11:50 AM

Updated Thursday, Mar 6 at 7:11 PM

FORT KNOX, Ky.  (WHAS11) --  For the first time in the history of Fort Knox, there's a female commanding general in charge.

Brigadier General Peggy Combs took on her new role Thursday morning, March 6, in front of a crowd of hundreds at Waybur Theater.

In her first speech as commanding general, Combs never spoke about the historical importance of her change in command. Instead, she thanked the people who've helped her along the way in her 28-year career and what she planned to do with the next chapter of service at Fort Knox. She even answered an age old question.

"There is gold at Fort Knox. I've never been to the Bullion, but there is gold inside this gate. The real gold is in the potential of each and every one of the soldiers that are here and the future soldiers," Combs said.

A crowd of soldiers, their families and state officials joined in applause as Combs received her newest title, handed over by her predecessor, Major General Jeff Smith.

"You have my endorsement and I am very excited, today, that if I had to give up the colors, that I'd have to give it up to you," Smith said. "This has been the absolute capstone of my career. There is no more important duty, in my view, than developing leaders."

"This is a great day to be in service to our nation and our army and I am truly honored and humbled with this blessing to be the 85th commander of Fort Knox and the 11th commander of Cadet Command," Combs said.

She praised Smith's work and promised to continue his legacy at home and abroad.

"You've done the heavy lifting. You've pushed the rock up the mountain. Now, it's my turn to guide it down the mountain into execution and you can be sure I will make sure your vision is fully recognized. Strength starts here," Combs said.

Smith served as commanding general for two years at Fort Knox. He will leave for Afghanistan, where he will become the Deputy Chief of Staff for the International Security Assistance Force.

Combs comes from Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., where she served as the 27th Chief of Chemical and the commandant of the U.S. Army Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear School. She was deputy commander of Cadet Command from July 2011 to September 2012.

Throughout her 28 year service tenure, Combs has served in a variety of leadership and staff positions at the tactical, operational and strategic levels.

Tactical assignments include staff officer and command positions at the battalion, brigade and division level, at Fort Hood, Texas; Schofield Barracks, Hawaii; and Fort Stewart, Ga.; and Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.  Combs served at the joint operational level as the Joint Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Operations Officer during Operation Enduring Freedom, for the United States Central Command (CENTCOM), MacDill AFB, Florida, and as the chief of staff for the Iraq Training and Advisory Mission, United States Forces-Iraq, Baghdad, Iraq.  Strategic level assignments include duty at the National Ground Intelligence Center in Charlottesville, Va. and as the chief, Full Dimension Protection Division, DCS G8, U.S. Army Pentagon, Washington, D.C.