FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (February 2, 2023) — Col. Sarah Albrycht, U.S. Army Military Police School commandant, was promoted to brigadier general during a ceremony on Jan. 26 in Lincoln Hall Auditorium.
The presiding officer for the ceremony, Lt. Gen. Donna Martin, the Army’s Inspector General, said promotions are “not about what you have accomplished, but truly about potential.”
“And our Army has definitely got this one right, when they decided to make this exceptional officer a general officer,” Martin said, noting she has known Albrycht since 2011, when they were both stationed in Germany. “I have watched her excel and lead in every assignment since that time. I always thought that there was something exceptional about this officer. Sarah has the unique ability to (not only) know the direction that she wants to go but (also to) make everyone else feel like they are part of the solution.”
After pointing out Albrycht’s family history of military service — including three uncles and Albrycht’s father, Herb, who earned two Purple Hearts and an Army Commendation Medal with “V” device for valor in Vietnam — Martin tried to put this promotion into perspective for Albrycht’s daughter, Catherine, noting just 19 females are currently serving as general officers in the Army.
“You get to see, Catherine, a female who gets promoted to brigadier general, and she just happens to be your mom,” Martin said. “And what a testimony that she is to you, so that you can see what is possible for all young women.”
Martin called Albrycht “the right leader at the right time,” and she quoted author and speaker John Maxwell as she left Albrycht with some words of advice.
“‘The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; but the leader adjusts the sails,’” Martin said. “You will have challenges and difficult moments in this journey to the top. I just ask you, that as you contemplate those challenges, what’s your role in the solution? Go forth, and continue to do great things, Brigadier General Sarah Albrycht.”
With Brig. Gen. Niave Knell also in attendance at the ceremony — Knell currently serves as the deputy commanding general for support with the 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley, Kansas; Albrycht replaced her as USAMPS commandant in May — Albrycht noted three of those 19 female Army general officers were all in the same room at the same time.
“That’s pretty amazing,” she said, thanking everyone for attending — virtually and in person.
Albrycht also gave a special thank you to Martin.
“I am awed by your faith in me, and the way that you continually underwrite that faith over and over again,” Albrycht said. “I try to live up to it every day by responsibly executing the duties that have been given to me.”
Albrycht grew up in Bennington, Vermont, “in the shadow of a Revolutionary War monument” — she likes to say she has been a patriot her whole life.
“Our junior and senior high school mascots were the Patriots,” she said. “And then, I left and went to the University of Massachusetts (in Amherst), where I became a Minuteman. And then, the day before I graduated, on 27 May 1995, I took the oath and I became an officer in the United States Army, and I put on the cloth of our nation — and I haven’t taken it off since.”
Albrycht credited her family with the “foundational attributes and beliefs” that have helped her find the courage and tenacity to succeed as an Army leader.
“When my forefathers departed Europe in search for a better life, they brought very little of material worth with them,” she said. “What they did bring was a bone-deep respect for hard work and family and community.”
In explaining her family’s ability to see beyond their circumstances, Albrycht quoted Irish poet and playwright Oscar Wilde, who said, ‘All of us live in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.’
“You can look at the stars, but don’t expect them to set a clear course or put in the work for you,” she added. “The journey ahead is yours alone and it may not look anything like what you expect.”
Albrycht highlighted some of the moments — unexpected or not — of her life and career with the Army.
“I was witness to the world changing on 9/11, and I’ve been to war,” she said. “I earned three degrees, commanded three times and I got married to my best friend — and gave birth to this beautiful little girl, who is both smart and sassy in perfect measure. Finally, I was selected for promotion to brigadier general.”
No one would call that predictable, Albrycht said, with one exception.
“My mom wrote in my baby book, ‘This one is going to be a general,’” she said of her mother, Mary, who was in attendance.
Moms put the “why in try,” Albrycht added.
“Mom is the reason I tried out for varsity basketball my sophomore year,” she said. “I remember hesitating at the bottom of the steps that led from our dressing room up to the floor. On the day of tryouts, I didn’t think I was good enough, but mom said, ‘Of course you are. Go try.’ And I climbed those steps, and I’ve been confidently climbing those steps ever since.”
Of note, Albrycht has a bachelor’s degree in Legal Studies and master’s degrees in Policy Management and National Strategy. She is also a graduate of the Senior Service College, the Joint Planning Course, the Jumpmaster Course, Army Command and General Staff College, the Military Police Officer basic and advanced courses, and Airborne School.
Her awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit (with one oak-leaf cluster), Bronze Star (with one oak-leaf cluster), Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (with five oak-leaf clusters), Joint Service Commendation Medal (with one oak-leaf cluster), Army Commendation Medal (with four oak-leaf clusters), Joint Service Achievement Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Army Superior Unit Award, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Ribbon (with four campaign stars), Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Army Overseas Service Ribbon (with Number “3”), NATO Service Medal, Army Staff Identification Badge, Office of the Secretary of Defense Identification Badge, and Senior Parachutist Badge.
More photos from the promotion ceremony are available on the Fort Leonard Wood Flickr page located at https://www.flickr.com/photos/fortleonardwood/albums/72177720305556398.
About Fort Leonard Wood
Fort Leonard Wood is a thriving and prosperous installation that has evolved from a small basic training post more than 80 years ago to a premier Army Center of Excellence that trains nearly 80,000 military and civilians each year.
Fort Leonard Wood is home to the U.S Army Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and three U.S. Army schools: the U.S. Army Engineer School; U.S. Army Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear School; and the U.S. Army Military Police School. In addition to training engineer, CBRN and military police specialties for the Army, Fort Leonard Wood also provides gender-integrated in-processing and Basic Combat Training for new Soldiers.
Fort Leonard Wood also hosts and trains with the largest Marine Corps Detachment and Air Force Squadron on any Army installation as well as a large Navy construction detachment.
More information about Fort Leonard Wood is at: https://home.army.mil/wood/index.php/about/mission