It’s been celebration galore among Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora as they share in the joy of the promotion of Amanda Azubuike to the rank of a Brigadier-General in the United States Army. The public ceremony to mark the milestone and her decoration with the new rank, took place at the Military Base in Fort Knox, Kentucky, USA.
Nigerian-born Azubuike has tucked 30 years of military leadership under her belt with a rich and extensive background in Public Affairs and Communications spanning 15 years. She has led numerous teams in successful communication efforts.
However, there is a bit of sadness thrown into the mix of the joy and excitement of Azubuike’s attainment in the US Army, where merit is a fundamental consideration for promotion, which is definitely not the kind done in Nigeria military, where geopolitical quota considerations and other underhand practices drive the process. Though mere mortals can’t see it, the parents of the new Army General are definitely dancing in their graves over their daughter’s achievement, which came six years after they passed on. A scion of a Nigerian father and Zimbabwean mother, was born in London, United Kingdom, where her parents met as students while pursuing university studies.
After her decoration with the new rank before senior US Army officials, family members, friends and colleagues, she said: “My promotion and celebration would have been a proud day for my parents because I never knew I would have been where I am today. My journey is a true testament to my family, my faith in God and also the great American country where I live.”
In her maiden address as Brigadier General, Azubuike left no one in doubt of her absolute understanding of what lies ahead: “I recognize the gravity of this moment. I recognize the responsibility, the expectations, as well as the scrutiny that comes with this promotion. I also recognize the power of representation and the importance of diversity. I am privileged to have benefitted from trailblazers and I am committed to doing my part to leave a better path for those coming behind me.”
Even as she is understandably proud of the 1.2m men and women in the US army, only about 300 senior officers reach the rank of one star Generalor higher. Congratulations are absolutely in order for Amanda Azubuike!
As would be expected, Azubuike built a brilliant record, which propelled her meteoric rise. Her success is an eloquent testimony of her hard work and commitment to life purpose. Prior to her recent promotion, she had held several positions, which include Deputy Commanding General, Chief of Staff/Senior Military Advisor to the Principal Deputy ATSD (PA), Chief of Public Affairs and Director of Public Affairs, among others in the US Army.
Azubuike joined the US Army in 1994 and became an aviator after passing the Army Aviation Basic Course. Apart from her Army qualifications, she holds a degree in Mass Communication/ Media Studies from the University of Central Arkansas, where she studied for her first degree between 1989-1993; Master of Arts degree in National Security and Strategic Studies from United States Army War College, and a Master of Professional Studies, Public Relations/Corporate Communications from Georgetown University. She graduated from Flight School in 1995 as a UH-1H Huey Helicopter pilot and transitioned to the RC-12D/H Guardrail (fixed wing) aircraft. She began her career with the 924th Aviation Support Battalion at Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia, where she served as a platoon leader. Army aviation took her from the Sinai to Korea, where she concluded a range of missions in both airframes from lift and transport in support of observer controllers from the State Department in the UH-1H, to real world Surveillance Reconnaissance and Observations missions flying RC-12s in South Korea. Even as success trailed her, she served as the Flight Operations Officer, followed by platoon leader for the Aviation Company, Multinational Force and Observers in the Sinai, Egypt.
A social media post, describes her in these words: “She has demonstrated excellence in developing plans and strategies, conducting media relations, crisis communications, digital campaigns, enhancing internal and external stakeholder relations, and global affairs.”
A veritable all-rounder in terms of performance, she excelled in her the Military Intelligence Career Course for Captains as well as the Fixed Wing Multi-Engine Qualification Course. Azubuike served with the 3rd Military Intelligence Battalion (Aerial Exploitation) in South Korea as an Operations Officer and RC-12 pilot. In the course of her progression, Azubuike assigned to Fort Jackson, South Carolina, as the Commander of Alpha Company, Victory Brigade. She served in the Coalition Forces Land Component Command in Kuwait from July 2005 through June 2006, as a Public Affairs Operations Officer. Subsequently, gaining higher grounds, Amanda Azubuike was assigned to the US Army Central Command’s Headquarters at Fort McPherson, Georgia. Another assignment that came her way was to the office of the chief of Public Affairs at the Pentagon in the Community Outreach Division.
In keeping with military and continuing professional development of the senior officer cadre, Azubuike attended the US Army War College, and was later assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart, Georgia, as the Public Affairs Director; and deployed to Bagram, Afghanistan, with the Division Headquarters.
As a chief of staff/senior Military Advisor to the Principal Deputy, she was assigned to the Joint Headquarters/Military Distinct of Washington at Fort McNair in Washington D.C as the Public Affairs Director, where she led the joint public affairs team that supported the 58th presidential inauguration and also served as the Chief of Public Affairs for the US. Southern Command Headquarters in Doral, Florida.
Before her promotion, Azubuike served as the Chief of Staff and Senior Military Assistant to the Principal Deputy in the Office of the Secretary of Defence at the Pentagon.
Some of her fine moments were as Director of Public Affairs, 3rd Infantry Division, from July 2014-August 2016; she was the Chief Spokesperson for an Army Division consisting of 23,000 soldiers, led a team responsible for programmes that drive community outreach, media relations and internal communications. She provided public affairs guidance and counsel to the commanding general and senior leaders, then built and expanded relationships with community leaders, media outlets, corporate and private organizations through various community opportunities. Again, she engaged their external and internal audiences through traditional and social media via multiple platforms and forums. Azubuike was directly responsible for development, mentoring and professional development of approximately 20 brigade level Public Affairs professionals.
Another of such great height was as Director, Public Affairs, US Forces Afghanistan from November 2014- November 2015 at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, Azubuike was deployed with a US contingent of 30,000 US service members at its height, including soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines. She was directly responsible to the Deputy Commanding General-Support for all public affairs activities with the objective of informing key audiences in the United States, Afghanistan and the region in order to accomplish strategic and operational objectives including command information, media relations, current operations and strategic communications with special emphasis on social media. She provided affairs, advice and strategic communications direction and support to senior leadership on the USFOR-A staff.
Azubuike’s track record of brilliance and excellent performance is a long and impressive one. In August 2012-December 2012, she developed a communications plan for the NFL Players Association as part of her capstone requirement for completion of her graduate degree from Georgetown University. She designed a six-month communications strategy to successfully launch a new initiative on a limited budget. In a consulting role, she worked with the NFLPA’s communications team to gain insights that led to the development of a comprehensive digital and social media plan. The plan identified their key publics and provided tactics to link them using several platforms where the key publics have an active presence. That plan included branding, website redesign, positioning, messaging, strategies and tactics.
Admirably, Azubuike was able to create synergy between her two professional courses and married them to become an excellent US Army officer and communications strategist. Little wonder the US Army Futures Command Commander, General James Rainey, stated that Azubuike makes everyone around her better.
Dear Nigerian girls, know it that central to Amanda Azubuike’s success story was her firm decision to be focused in life. That has made to become a worthy ambassador today and her name is written down in history as a female Brigadier-General in the US Army.
Her achievement is a lesson for the younger ones that hard work, focus, responsibility and walking the right path does not reduce or remove anyone, rather they add value and lead to accomplishments as in the case of Amanda Azubuike, who is being celebrated in America.