By MSG Pete MayesOctober 28, 2015
As Sutapa Khan prepared to rappel down the incline wall at the Lightning Academy's Air Assault course, her instructor, Staff Sgt. Misty DiChristina, asked her an important question: "Are you left-handed or right-handed?"
DiChristina, who is assigned to the 25th Infantry Division's Lightning Academy, wanted to ensure that Khan, a captain in the Bangladesh Army, was harnessed in properly before she began her descent down the wall. It wasn't a far descent either… but it was enough to give Khan and her fellow female Bangladesh officers a taste of the type of training they could envision taking part in.
Khan was one of five soldiers from Bangladesh who visited the academy Oct. 22 to learn about training opportunities for their female counterparts. The purpose of the visit was to build confidence in Bangladesh female officer corps, and for them to obtain a better understanding of 25ID training and female Soldiers success and capabilities.
Currently there are approximately 1,000 female Soldiers in the Bangladesh Army, and approximately 150 of them are non-medical branches.
The Division usually showcases the Lightning Academy and its Jungle Operations Training Course to visitors who want to learn more about training and surviving the jungle experience. DiChristina said she wants to show the Bangladesh female soldiers they are just as capable as the male Soldiers.
"Hopefully, I'm showing them that when we empower people, that they will step up to expectations," she said.
The officers were given a briefing on the capabilities and courses offered at the Lightning Academy, and were interested in the ratio of female to male instructors there. They also received hands-on training on the variety of courses offered, such as the air assault rappel course, the Modern Army Combatives Program, and surviving in a jungle environment.
They also took part in a panel discussion about women in the armed forces with female company grade officers of the 25th Infantry Division.
Khan also took part in a combatives demonstration where she effectively tossed a Soldier over her hip.
"Events like these help us to motivate our fellow female Soldiers and get them to understand that they are not just females in the Army, but that they are Soldiers as well," she said.
Approximately 12 female Soldiers from the Division took part in the Pre-Ranger Assessment course conducted at the Lightning Academy, according to Cpt. Brandon Essiet, company commander. Although the Soldiers did not get their Ranger tabs, it helped them build their confidence, he said.
"They know how to train out here and they know what to expect for next time," Essiet said.