Leader of Pacific Army Reserve views S. Korea as key to defense


POSTED: Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Winding up a duty tour in South Korea, the general tapped to become the Pacific Army Reserve's first female commander says technology and continual training with South Korean soldiers can match any threat from an increasingly bellicose Kim Jong Il.

Brig. Gen. Michele Gillen Compton, who takes over the Army Reserve's 9th Mission Support Command at the end of the year, acknowledged that the problems on the Korean peninsula have taken on added urgency with North Korea testing missiles.

While Defense Secretary Robert Gates has ordered more mobile missile intercept launchers deployed at Kauai's Barking Sands Pacific Missile Facility, Compton said the joint forces in South Korea are equally formidable.

“;We have awesome capability there,”; said Compton, 47, who for the past two years has been deputy chief of staff at the 8th Army and director of the operational command post in Yongsan. “;We have awesome technology that will be there to protect us.”;

After a 26-year Army career, Compton said that she was “;humbled and honored”; when the Pentagon announced in May that she would lead the 3,500-member 9th Mission Support Command, which covers Hawaii, Alaska, Guam and American Samoa.

“;I feel very lucky because there is certainly a lot of good female officers in the Army Reserve.”;

There are 24 units in her next command, with one of them—the 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry—the only infantry unit in the Army Reserve. The command is headquartered at Fort Shafter Flats.

The 100th Battalion is completing a nearly yearlong deployment to Kuwait, its second combat tour since the Vietnam War. The battalion, attached to Hawaii's 29th Brigade Combat Team, returns to Honolulu in August.

Compton, who was raised in Fairfax, Va., met her husband, Mike, a second-generation Kailua resident, when they were attending Virginia Polytechnic Institute. After graduation, Mike Compton took up flying, and is a colonel today in the Hawaii Air National Guard, commanding the 109th Air Operations Group at Hickam Air Force Base. He is also a Hawaiian Airlines pilot.

Michele Compton served for five years on active duty in Texas and Germany before transferring to the Reserve. She was mobilized for Desert Shield in 1990 and later transferred to the Pacific Army Reserve, where her first assignment was with the 1085th Training Exercise and Maneuver Group at Fort DeRussy in 1992.

From 2001 to 2007, Compton was on active duty at Pacific Command, using her background in military intelligence, imagery intelligence and civil affairs.