Logistically Speaking

Original article by Ed WIlliams from the NC State Alumni Association Magazine. Photo credit: Shana Hutchins

Maj. Gen. Michelle Rose ’90 is where she needs to be when she needs to be there.

As “a career logistician” and the first woman in the Virginia National Guard to achieve the rank of two-star general, Rose is assistant deputy commanding general for National Guard Affairs, currently assigned to the U.S. Materiel Command in Huntsville, Ala. The command provides combat systems, repairs, medicine, fuel, food, water and shelter to the military and their families.

Maj. Gen. Michelle Rose explaining logistical issues with fellow soldiers

Military logistics, she says, is “more than bullets and bombs.” It’s critical to battlefield success — as stalled Russian forces in the Ukraine invasion have shown. Synchronizing resources across other government agencies and departments lets Rose lean into her engineering skills. She’s provided support for Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Operation Restore Hope (Somalia) and Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan). The command now supports Ukraine’s defense efforts and NATO partners.

In western Afghanistan, she’s led her troops across expanses, searching deserts for days to supply ever-moving coalition forces. She recalls meeting with Afghan elders to help village women who lost male breadwinners in the war: “We all came up with the idea to provide sewing machines and materials so they could make a living creating clothes.”

Military logistics . . . is “more than bullets and bombs.”

Michelle Rose ’90

As director of logistics and engineering at North American Aerospace Defense Command — U.S. Northern Command (NORAD) in Colorado from 2019–22, Rose helped with the annual Christmas Eve Santa tracking operation. Her favorite questions from children: “How fast do reindeer fly?” and “How many bells do they wear?”

Rose studied industrial engineering at NC State on a ROTC scholarship, never envisioning the arc of her career. “I never had that general officer goal. To be honest, I never thought I’d be in long enough to retire,” says Rose, now living in Suffolk, Va.

Her many decorations and awards include the Bronze Star. Her proudest achievement? “I came home [from Afghanistan] with all my soldiers.”