Company shows why Baghdad needs a "Woman's Touch"
Sgt. Fay Dantzler (left) and Sgt. Maria Johnson prepare to load up and roll out with Company F, 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavarly Division, to conduct joint operations with the Iraqi Army. The females Soldiers go on patrols in order to search suspicious women and children.

CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq - Most infantry Soldiers would be a little surprised to see a female Soldier riding with them in their Bradley fighting vehicle through the streets of Baghdad.

But Soldiers of 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, attached to 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, regularly conduct search missions with female Soldiers.

The women of the battalion's Company F are often integrated into the mission just in case local national women or children need to be searched or secured.

Due to current laws and customs, women are not allowed to be ground soldiers for the Iraqi Army. That's where the women of Co. F come in.

Each team on patrol needs a woman on hand in order to deal with Iraqi women and children without upsetting the Iraqis cultural beliefs.

In addition to searching and securing people, the armor-clad women are also able to contribute to the education of the Iraqi troops.

"Our job right now is primarily to oversee the Iraqi Army and to guide them," says Sgt. Tory Viveros, one of the female search team leaders.

Their most recent mission was to find any evidence of insurgent activity or any other suspicious activities, and also look for caches of AK-47's, grenades and mortars.

During the last three missions, search teams have uncovered two large arms caches, several roadside bomb building kits and detained five suspects for processing and questioning.

The job may be tough but these troops aren't complaining.

"I think most Soldiers can agree that they don't want to be out there, but once you're out, it's fun because of the adrenaline rush. It's exciting and dangerous at the same time," said Sgt. Maria Johnson, who assisted in finding a hidden roadside bomb construction lab.

The feeling must be quite common because Pfc. Bobbie Hallahan commented, "We are here as female searchers providing support for the Iraqi Army. I was only scared for the first two minutes, but after that... It was hard work. I'm not going to lie. It wore me out, but it was fun and a good experience."

On many missions, women dismount with their male counterparts and go into a location after it is cleared. The women search team troops of Co. F remain vigilant and ready for the call to assist the battalion day in, and day out.

"In the end, we are all combat arms Soldiers and have to do what needs to be done to get the mission accomplished," said Sgt. Fay Dantzler, another member of the search team.

Page last updated Tue January 16th, 2007 at 11:31