First Black woman takes command of Fort Eustis joint task force

In a historic change of command ceremony, the first Black woman took command Friday of a Fort Eustis joint task force responsible for civil support and mission leadership during disasters.

Army Col. Tanya McGonegal became the 13th commander of U.S. Northern Command’s Joint Task Force-Civil Support in Newport News. McGonegal is not only the first woman commanding the unit, but also the first African American.

McGonegal relieved Col. Carl Lamar Parsons, Fort Eustis announced. As commander, McGonegal will lead active-duty, Reserve, National Guard and civilian members of the armed forces.

Related Articles

The task force is responsible for anticipating and preparing for chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and all-hazards catastrophic disaster support. When directed, the task force deploys within 24 hours of notification to provide mission command to Department of Defense forces in support of civil authorities to mitigate human suffering and provide critical support to enable community recovery.

McGonegal is no stranger to making history. She has been the first Black female commander at every unit she’s led throughout her 25-year career.

She enlisted in the Virginia Army National Guard in 1997. She graduated from Virginia State Officer Candidate School as the sole woman among 15 candidates in 1999. McGonegal later served nearly a decade in the Army National Guard military police, contributing to Operation Noble Eagle in 2001, Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 and Hurricane Katrina relief efforts in 2005.

During this time, she spent four years working as a county police officer, according to her Army bio. Her time as a police officer enhanced her military career but due to the deployments, she transitioned to serve full-time in the military.

McGonegal has served as an executive officer six times. In 2012, she became the first Black woman to command the 151st Military Police Battalion in the West Virginia Army National Guard. Following this milestone, she held joint assignments with the Office of the Secretary of Defense and later served as a commander to the 77th Brigade Troop Command.

She most recently served as the division chief for strategy and policy in the joint manpower and personnel directorate for the National Guard Bureau.