Ledwith replaces Col. Eric Belcher as 15th MP Brigade commander and commandant of the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks. Under the 15th are two internment and resettlement battalions, the 705th and the 40th, which staff the USDB and the Joint Regional Correctional Facility with roughly 1,200 Soldiers and 150 civilian employees.
Command Sgt. Maj. Steven Raines is moving up from the 705th MP Battalion to be the brigade’s command sergeant major. He assumed responsibility from Command Sgt. Maj. Jonathan Godwin during the same July 12 ceremony.
Maj. Gen. David E. Quantock, Provost Marshal General of the Army and commanding general, U.S. Army Criminal Investigations Command and Army Corrections Command, noted that during Belcher and Godwin’s tenure many transitions took place. The 15th Military Police Brigade was reflagged in September 2010, the new JRCF was opened, and Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the 40th MP I/R Battalion deployed to staff an Iraqi prison facility and train Iraqis to take over the facility. HHC, 40th MP I/R Battalion, was one of the final support units to leave Iraq upon the U.S. drawdown in 2011. Earlier this year, both Fort Leavenworth prison facilities received 100 percent scores from the American Correctional Association — an outside agency that audits prisons worldwide in support of safe and humane professional standards.
Belcher, who attributed the success of the brigade to its Soldiers and staff, told a story about a Soldier he met when he first took command at Fort Leavenworth. The Soldier was running laps around the track at Normandy Field in full combat gear. The heat was in the triple digits, with high humidity, and the Soldier was alone. His ACUs were soaked with sweat. Belcher stopped to see if he needed help, and noticed the Soldier was one of his own.
Belcher asked the Soldier why he was working so hard, and the Soldier replied:
“Sir, I am doing everything I can to make myself better. I only have one more lap, and I will have five miles.”
Belcher said that Soldier, a private E-2, had just come to Fort Leavenworth straight out of AIT and was trying to improve himself. The Soldier eventually deployed with the 40th MP I/R Battalion, and two years later is a driver for a general officer.
“If there is anyone out there who doesn’t believe we have some of the finest Soldiers in the world, just remember that young Soldier’s initiative,” Belcher said.
Of Godwin, Quantock said he was so pleased that he is taking the departing 15th MP Brigade command sergeant major for himself.
“I’m ripping him off you folks and bringing him back with me, to be my command sergeant major,” he said.
Ledwith recently finished at the Army War College, where she obtained a master of strategic studies degree. She has served 23 years in the Army with various assignments throughout the Military Police Corps. Ledwith also has a master of military studies degree from the Marine Corps University and is a graduate of the FBI Academy. She and her husband, Jerry, a retired colonel, have two daughters.
Quantock said he first met Ledwith when she was a second lieutenant.
“She may not be tall in stature, but she’s tough,” Quantock said of Ledwith. “I have worked with her, I have jumped out of airplanes with her. She is tough, she’s a master parachutist, and she has done some great things in her career.”
Ledwith’s deployments include Operation Just Cause, Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Operation Safe Harbor, Operation Sea Signal, Operation Joint Endeavor and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“I am honored to take command of this great unit — a unit with a distinguished history of excellence and with such a critical mission to our nation,” Ledwith said.