Women's History Month: Putting on her game face
March 18, 2010
2nd HBCT MP earns reputation as a tough, professional leader
<b>FORWARD OPERATING BASE MAREZ, Iraq</b> - "They call me the tank," said the military police sergeant. Those words piercing just as much as her hard as steel glance from behind the dark shades, or as she describes it, her "game face."
Sergeant Andrea Thompson is the noncommissioned officer in charge of security for the Combined Command Center for Ninewa province in Northern Iraq. Sergeant Thompson said every day she has to be prepared for any situation she and her Soldiers might face.
The Combined Command Center serves as the center for the combined command of Peshmerga, Iraqi Police, and Iraqi Army and would be a high value target for those wishing to disrupt operations within Northern Iraq. However, Sgt. Thompson and the Soldiers she trains perform as the centers gatekeepers, deterring any form of security breach of the center.
"The 'game face' is just the start," said Sgt. Thompson. "It sets the mood for all of those who come into the center and lets them know that if someone comes to the center to cause a problem that they will not be successful."
Arriving to the CCC in January, the Long Beach, Calif., native was tasked to train an ever rotating collection of Soldiers from various military occupations ranging from cooks to mechanics to become the center's security. Originally tasked to create the standard operating procedures and train Soldiers for the CCC for 30 days, Sgt. Thompson elected to stay with the center through the elections, nearly three months later.
"When I first arrived to the CCC, I was told I was in charge of developing the security for the center," said the six-year Army veteran. "Since the Soldiers that made up the security detachment were not MPs, they had to be instructed on how to properly search individuals and vehicles, react to direct and indirect fire, and how to respond to incidents such as suicide bombings."
Prior to joining the 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division for her second deployment to Iraq, Sgt. Thompson was stationed in Germany, where she met her husband, a fellow MP.
However, Sgt. Thompson said being appointed the CCC's security NCOIC was her best opportunity to shine as an NCO.
Lieutenant Colonel Max Dietrich, the CCC officer in charge, agreed that Sgt. Thompson has taken the leadership opportunity and excelled upon arriving to the center.
"As soon as Sgt. Thompson arrived, she performed her duties at an extremely high standard. Whether it is in her daily duties or training new guards, she is a consonant professional," said Lt. Col. Dietrich. "Sgt. Thompson was given an immense amount of latitude with how she was going to develop the centers security, something that she has more than rose to occasion for as a leader."
Although this is Sgt. Thompson's second deployment to Iraq, this was her first time interacting with Iraqi officials.
"In my first deployment, I was tasked with detainee operations, basically escorting prisoners," she said. "Now I interact with Iraqi military leaders; so, I had to learn how to deal with the local nationals in a completely different way than from my first deployment.
"They are treated with the upmost respect. However, many people believe the stigma that Iraqi's will not listen to women," said Sgt. Thompson, as a faint smile broke from her steel glare. "But I make sure they listen to me."