US Army Corps of Engineers
Middle East District

Celebrating Women's History: Doing her part for peace and stability in the Middle East

Doing her part for peace and stability in the Middle East

Published March 22, 2019
UCDC Chief Kirsten Smyth (far right) with her grandmother who enlisted in the Women’s Air Force at 23 years old; her mom, bottom left,  is the president of Bridge Valley Community College and has worked and taught for the US Army since 1993 both in Kuwait and in the States.

UCDC Chief Kirsten Smyth (far right) with her grandmother who enlisted in the Women’s Air Force at 23 years old; her mom, bottom left, is the president of Bridge Valley Community College and has worked and taught for the US Army since 1993 both in Kuwait and in the States.

 

Kirsten Smyth is the chief of the 28-person USACE Contingency Deployment Center at Transatlantic Middle East District in Winchester, Va. The UCDC recruits, hires and supports deployees going into the U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility for contingency deployments and for other areas when asked.

Smyth received her bachelor’s degree from Brooklyn College, CUNY and her master’s from the University of Leicester.

“I began as an archaeologist in the Planning Division at New York District through a local intern program,” she said. “Working in the field as an archaeologist taught me a great deal about being deliberate and making very specific decisions about what not to do and what to do. It taught me leadership under pressure and ensured that I was well grounded to work with a team and teams of teams.”

After a developmental assignment as an Executive Officer with New York District, Smyth moved to the North Atlantic Division as a Deployment Coordination Administrator. Then moved to Winchester with her family and began work as an Administrative Officer with the Afghanistan Recruitment Cell at TAD. That assignment led to her becoming the Action Officer for the UCRC, and then she was selected to lead the UCDC after the combining of the three disparate OCO support cells (APPO, DCA and UCRC).

Smyth has now been with USACE for 16 years, with the Transatlantic Division for eight years, and the Middle East District for 18 months.

While she said that she was greatly influenced and inspired by her grandmothers, great grandmothers, her mother and her dearest friends who are so strong and capable, sometimes ‘there is a tendency to not treat women as seriously as men,” she said. “We have to work harder and be much more firm and deliberate as we approach decisions. The way that we look is judged much more harshly and when we walk in a room, often opinions of us are formed before we open our mouths. It takes a long time to work through that.  

“I am working to bring stability to the CENTCOM AOR, by providing and supporting the men and women who build the infrastructure needed for this region,” Smyth said. “That will ultimately bring peace to this region. On a more personal and local level, working to bridge the gap between the District, the Division and the headquarters has allowed a much more fluid understanding of personalities and processes.”

Her favorite quote is from Glennon Doyle, an author, activist, philanthropist, creator of the online community Momastery, and founder and president of a nonprofit for women and children in crisis:  “The most revolutionary thing a woman can do is not explain herself.”

Smyth loves reading, working outside, and camping.