Since her military career began, Maj.Yvette Kanney longed to be the top cop at an Army installation.
That goal was attained in April of last year when she was named Fort Lee’s provost marshal.
But the complete realization of that dream will have to wait for about a year, after the 18-year veteran completes a one-year tour in Afghanistan.
“The Army is short of MPs (in Afghanistan),” said Kanney, who will complete her two-year assignment as provost marshal upon returning to Fort Lee. “We’re also short a lot of field grade officers.”
In Afghanistan, Kanney will be tasked with helping to train the Afghan army in detainee operations. That type of mission will be new to her; nonetheless, she is enthusiastic about the challenge.
“I don’t have much experience in that field,” she said, “but I’m looking forward to the opportunity to get more experience.”
Kanney, a Prince George County native, is married to Lt. Col. Richard Kanney, Fort Lee’s inspector general. They have two children.
Her father, Sutton Smith — a 78-year-old retired sergeant first class of the infantry, acknowledged that it’s tough for any Soldier to leave loved ones behind, but he said, “She’s doing something that she wants to do.”
That was also the theme during Kanney’s tenure as provost marshal. It was a position that she coveted since she was a cadet in the Reserve Officers Training Program at Norfolk State University.
“I’ve always wanted to be provost marshal, and it’s been the best job I’ve had my entire career,” said Kanney, first assigned to the Combined Arms Support Command upon arriving at Fort Lee in 2004. “I walked into an operation with a great team.”
An Army provost marshal is the equivalent of a civilian police chief. Kanney is responsible for running a police force comprised of about 77 military police Soldiers and 54 civilian police on a post with large numbers of civilians and advanced individual trainees.
Kanney has many goals as provost marshal. One of them was to establish community outreach programs to foster better relations with the community.
“I wanted us to get out and be a part of the community more,” she said. “Not just ride around in our vehicles and write tickets but to go out and let people know that we’re here to keep them safe.”
Kanney said her department has accomplished that goal and more. “Our community policing efforts have improved, and I’m happy with what we’ve been able to do,” she said.
There are many more goals Kanney wants to achieve as provost marshal, and those goals won’t take a hiatus while she is away. She said that when she departs within the week, she will leave behind a group of law enforcement professionals that is more than capable of carrying out her vision.
“Regardless of the fact that I’m leaving, the department will run smoothly,” said Kanney, who will be replaced by deputy provost marshal Joe Metzger in the interim. “They will maintain their professionalism, won’t miss a beat, and they’ll make me proud.”
When Kanney returns this time next year, she will have to deal with a number of personal and professional issues. First, she’ll have close to 20 years of service and must mull over prolonging her career. Second, she’ll come back to a markedly different Fort Lee, one affected by increased construction and population courtesy of Base Realignment and Closure.
In any case, she’ll be anxious to get back.
“I don’t want to leave, but that’s what I’m called to do and I’m looking forward to doing what I have to do,” she said. “I’m also looking forward to serving my country, getting back and doing what I love best — being provost marshal.”