Even with the official integration of women serving in combat roles put in place by the U.S. Military in 2013, there are still numerous Military Occupational Specialties in the Marine Corps that are male dominated. Beating the odds, one Marine surpassed the expectations of her billet, rank, and unit.
U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Nicholle Miller, the intelligence officer with 2d Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion (LAR), 2d Marine Division (MARDIV), earned recognition from the II Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) command staff and a spot in 2d MARDIV history as the first female officer to serve with any LAR battalion in the Marine Corps.
“I don't think of myself as the first female anything,” said Miller. “I'm just another officer. I'm here to do a job and support my battalion as best I can.”
A native of San Francisco, California, Miller always wanted to join the military. She applied for a scholarship through Oregon State University's Naval Reserve Officer Corps Program when she decided to join the Marine Corps, and she soon began her studies towards a Bachelor of Science degree as a sociology major.
“When I spoke to recruiters from other services, they didn't have the same enthusiasm about what they did or the service that they joined,” recalled Miller . “I didn't feel the same draw to them as I did to the Marine Corps.”
After commissioning in 2013, Miller served as an air intelligence officer with Marine Air Group (MAG) 26, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing until 2018 when she checked into 2d LAR. While serving with 2d LAR, she participated in numerous field exercises and a deployment with Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force- Crisis Response Africa where she took part in Operation Oak and Steel, gathering and managing intelligence for day-to-day operations.
“A lot of what I do as an intelligence officer is training and getting Marines ready to go out and support whatever mission they're a part of,” said Miller. “Another part of what intel does in the field is collecting data from recon missions and telling the commanders where the enemy is so they get a better battlespace picture.”
Aside from her intelligence skills, Miller made a name for herself in long-shot marksmanship as well. In 2018, she and the MAG 26 shooting team won the Wirgman Trophy for small unit marksmanship excellence at the Eastern Division Competition. This earned her team a spot on the Eastern Division Rifle Team where they won the Inter-Division Rifle Team Trophy. From there, Miller received an invitation to augment the Marine Corps Shooting Team for their summer season but had to turn down the opportunity due to an upcoming deployment.
“It was a tremendous opportunity and I had a blast,” Miller noted. “I believe that if you do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life.”
Miller intends to serve her country as long as she finds fulfillment in her daily work, but eventually plans to become a security manager in the civilian sector.
“I plan on staying in until I stop having fun, and I’m still having fun,” said Miller with a smile. “The feeling I get when I can help a Marine and get them to where they need to be is unmatched.”
Miller motivates herself through the pride she has in her work and the motivation of her Marines. Her work in intelligence systems earned her a challenge coin and recognition from Lt. Gen. Brian D. Beaudreault, the commanding general of II MEF. Similarly, she motivates her Marines by caring for their wellbeing and ensuring they are mission ready at all times.
“I have a strict open-door policy that if a Marine needs to talk, I never say no,” said Miller. “If a Marine is overloaded and stressed, I'll give them the day, and the rest of the Marines will divide and conquer the work they needed to get done that day. I’ll move mountains to help my Marines.”
Between her performance at work, on the range, and in the field, Miller contributes an exceptional amount of readiness to the Marines of 2d LAR and continues to excel in every aspect of her Marine Corps career. Regardless of being the first female officer in LAR, she is determined to make history again and again.
“At the end of the day, I’m here to be a Marine officer,” Miller said sincerely. “I’m here to lead Marines, nothing else.”