As an officer with 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Capt. Erin Mauldin, is already making history in the Army.
She graduated Ranger School in 2018, only three years after the first two women completed the grueling course. Mauldin has served as a platoon leader, executive officer of a company, deployed to Afghanistan and expects to soon become the first female to take command of a company in 1st BCT after serving as a planner in the Brigade Operations Section.
She commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army in 2014 from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, and has a long military career still ahead of her.
“I originally joined the Army to be a doctor, but as a cadet I realized I no longer wanted to be a doctor but I still wanted to be an Army officer in one of the maneuver branches,” Mauldin said. “So, when infantry opened up, I was excited to branch transfer. I guess I was drawn to the ability of people in the Army to sort of come together, in cold, wet miserable conditions, to accomplish the mission with a lot of initiative and limited resources.”
Shifting to infantry
After Mauldin was commissioned, she attended graduate school and branch transferred to the infantry in 2016.
After attending Infantry Basic Officer Leadership Course and Airborne School at Fort Benning, Georgia, she was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in 2017 as a platoon officer for about six months before her first deployment.
She served as an executive officer May 2018-2019, and served as the assistant operations officer for 2-505th PIR in Afghanistan June-December 2019.
“We were the Special Operations Forces uplift unit and so we were divided up and supported a bunch of the Special Operations Forces across the country in small, squad- to platoon-sized elements, in addition to doing security forces and some other stuff,” Mauldin said. “I was the assistant operations officer, so I helped make sure everybody got out to the 28-plus outstations we had Soldiers stationed at and then I also worked on the Special Forces battalion staff while there working on mission resourcing and approval.”
She attended Maneuver Captains Career Course January-June and has been a planner in 1st BCT S-3 since July, and joined Bastogne’s September training rotation at the Joint Readiness Training Center, Fort Polk, Louisiana.
Company command coming
Infantry officers lead Soldiers on maneuvers and take out enemies, Mauldin said.
“I’m in the brigade plans shop, which means I help to plan the operations that units do to train for closing with and destroying the enemy,” she said. “I will within the next couple of months take command and then be responsible for training and leading those Soldiers, but for now I’m in a supporting role planning those operations.”
A date for her taking command has not been set but she said after the JRTC rotation and following inventory, she expects that to happen in the next couple of months. Although there have been women officers assigned to other brigades, Mauldin is definitely in the minority.
“There are multiple women who are company commanders of infantry units right now,” she said. “There have been women in 3rd Brigade who have led well as platoon leaders, and possibly executive officers but at this point, as far as I’m aware, I’m the first infantry officer in 1st Brigade.”
Being a role model
Mauldin said she takes her Army career very seriously and wants to show others it is possible to serve. She also wants to be a good role model.
“I take very seriously my responsibility to train and lead well the Soldiers either under my command or the units I support from a staff position,” Mauldin said. “As someone who was once a young girl myself, I do know how important it is see people like you in positions you someday want to serve in. But nothing I do is specifically for that sake or for setting an example for women in particular. Everything I do, try to lead and follow as I expect to be led and followed.”
Mauldin said in high school she avidly read articles about amazing women at West Point and they inspired her. That’s another reason she agreed to be featured in the museum’s exhibit.
“If one young person reads or sees something I put out there and that nudges her or him to pursue some kind of service, I will consider participating a success,” Mauldin said. “I’ve been fortunate to be exposed to fantastic mentors, peers and subordinates in all the units I’ve been in. I’ve had the opportunity to travel to some incredible places and to have experienced some challenging schools and all of what I’ve learned about working with other people in cold, wet miserable conditions to accomplish the task at hand is good preparation for life in general and for whatever I decide I want to do when I grow up.”
The Army has scared her at times, Mauldin said, but in a good way that has made her a more resilient person after going through some pretty tough challenges.
“I really appreciate all of the ways in which the Army scares you, makes you uncomfortable and makes you deal with parts of yourself you don’t really want to deal with, and then puts you in with other people in the same boat,” she said. “You watch others overcome and then you do too.”