Training the 'Daughters of Iraq'
June 24, 2009
BAGHDAD -- Loud chatter filled the room as ten women from the Daughters of Iraq gathered at an old high school in Yusifiyah, south of Baghdad, June 12, to train new hires, update information in the U.S forces database and discuss present conditions with officers of 150th Armored Reconnaissance Squadron, 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team.
The female security program, an unarmed spin-off of the Sons of Iraq, started in October 2008 to work with Iraqi police to search women at check points in an attempt to reduce female suicide bombers and the threat of male bombers who may dress up like women in the area.
"This is one step in the process to help eliminate suicide bombers," said Capt. Walter Hatfield, of Charleston, W. Va., about the Daughters of Iraq. "They do not carry weapons; their weapon is intuition."
Female Soldiers of the 150th ARS served as training aids for the women to practice search techniques; three new hires practiced those techniques with Sgt. Frankie Hibberd, from Charleston, W. Va., of Company D, 230th Brigade Support Battalion.
"Tell them, remember when they came in, I searched them,' said Hibberd to the interpreter. "Tell them to practice on me."
Communication during the class was more visual than vocal as Hibberd used animated facial expressions and hand gestures to break language barriers when the interpreter was busy.
The women were entertained as she drew a question mark in the air to explain questioning suspects with large sums of money and the women gasped when Hibberd pulled out a small knife that a trainee missed during her mock search.
Hadia Hamwed Alwan, a DOI widow whose husband was killed by an insurgent bomb, smiled at Hibberd and said in English, "I love her, I love her!"
After the class, the women discussed their current status with Hatfield and Capt. Jason Bowen, of Shady Springs, W. Va., from B Troop, 150th ARS. Hatfield and Bowen are negotiating with the Iraqi police to extend the DOI's contract from June 30 to December.
"Although the program is well appreciated, these women have been working for three months and want to know when they will be paid," said Entasar Yosif Yakoub, the manager of the 55 workers in that area.
Another concern is what will happen to the women after their DOI employment.
Hatfield asked Yakoub to attend the weekly community meetings and push for women's rights, giving the women another course of action after DOI.
"Start attending the weekly community meetings now to push women's rights, discuss medical needs and education so the women can get into these fields once DOI comes to an end," said Hatfield.
At the end of the day, the DOI expressed their concerns to listening ears. Just a few years ago these women walked behind their men carrying loads, now as DOI, they stand behind their country seizing weapons and helping their streets become safer.
"You are helping to protect your community and families, this is a good thing you all are doing here in Yusifiyah," Hatfield said as he addressed the women.
"I joined the DOI to support my kids and to help all of Iraq become safer," said Hozei Jasim, one of the new trainees.