The Army reserve officer and IT analyst clinched the win after she proudly affirmed the Pentagon's recent decision to open combat jobs to women.
"As a woman in the United States Army, I think it was an amazing job by our government to allow women to integrate to every branch of the military. We are just as tough as men," the 26-year-old said to applause when asked about the controversial issue.
"As a commander of my unit, I am powerful. I am dedicated. And it is important that we recognize that gender does not limit us in the United States Army."
Barber is the daughter of a retired Army master sergeant who served overseas following the 9/11 attacks. Barber's mother and siblings also served in the armed forces.
"I consider it to be a family tradition,” she said in a pre-show interview. "It’s something that runs through our veins — patriotism and service for this country."
Barber is the first-ever military member to win the pageant. She told reporters following the event that she's exploring the possibility of going inactive while serving as Miss USA.
Barber's clear convictions appeared to sway the judges at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. She took the crown over runners-up Miss Georgia Emanii Davis and Miss Hawaii Chelsea Hardin.
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Miss Hawaii, too, managed impress with her answer to a sticky question. Pressed on whether she'd vote for Clinton or Trump, Hardin said: "What we need in the United States is someone who represents those of us who feel we don’t have a voice."
Republican nominee Donald Trump owned the Miss USA pageant until his controversial remarks about immigrants led NBCUniversal — which co-owned the event — to cut ties with the billionaire.
Trump eventually sold off his stake in the pageant.