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August 20, 2008

In Kirkuk, Iraqi Women Form Thin Blue Line Against Terror

In the Iraqi city of Kirkuk, Iraqi women step up to the plate in the war on terror:


Thirty-seven females attended the first day of training at the Kirkuk Police Academy outside of Kirkuk City, Aug. 16.

It’s been a year since the academy has seen any Iraqi females in blue, and never a class of this size.

“We need these females badly,” Lt. Col. Muid, a cadre at the academy said. “It is our religious custom not to touch our women, so we cannot search females. Our female IPs will be extremely important to use at checkpoints and government buildings throughout the province.”

The cadre pointed out that they would also be bringing a different perspective to policing.

“Women think differently than men,” he said. “They will bring fresh ideas to how we conduct business.”

The 37 females are split into squad-like elements. Each squad will have a female military police Soldier assisting - Sgt. 1st Class Sumalee Bustamante and Spc. Jennifer Swierk.

“This is going to be a big challenge,” Swierk said, referring to the cultural differences, “but I’m proud to be a part of this page in Kirkuk’s, if not Iraq’s history.”

“This is going to be an amazing experience for all of us,” Bustamante added. “I’m looking forward to helping my fellow female police officer and being a part of the positive historic changes occurring here.”

For Nowal, 30, a trainee who has never held a job and lives with her brother - also a member of the Kirkuk police force - the experience so far has her realizing she has a lot of work ahead of her.

“I am very tired,” she said of the first day of training. However, she is determined to “serve my country.”

In lieu of the recent increase in female suicide bombers, these women are undaunted by the dangers of the field they have chosen. When asked what they would do if they were to spot one at a check-point, as a group they did not hesitate to answer:

“Man or women, if you come through our check point we will stop you.”

“Terrorists are not welcome in the province of Kirkuk,” Intesar, 29, said. “They are not Iraqis - they are not Muslim. It is not our way.”

This is just one more hopeful sign that Iraq is finally on the path to normalcy:

In the southern Rishad valley of Kirkuk province lies the remote village of Gaydah, located several miles off the nearest main road and even further from the nearest substantial city or district.

Already accustomed to seclusion, the village residents were surprised when Soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division showed up in their community in February. The residents were more surprised when they announced that they would set up operations there; living and working with the residents for the next two months.

Operating from within a schoolhouse in the area, the Soldiers spent the next several weeks meeting with the villagers, providing humanitarian aid, rebuilding infrastructures, and planning future civil service projects.

The mission complete, Soldiers left. But they returned Aug. 20, along with members of the 443rd Civil Affairs Battalion, to receive updates and determine plans of action.

... Until recently, the U.S. government has provided American dollars for all projects, with the Coalition forces conducting the labor and Iraqi Security Forces following their lead. The focus is now being completely transformed, with the Iraqi people in charge of all future projects, while Coalition forces step in the background, assisting only when necessary.

Relationships such as the one occurring between U.S. Forces and the village of Gaydah are emerging all over the country, signifying the kind of change the world hoped to see when operations first began here.

Such changes have been increasingly evident in the Kirkuk region, where Coalition forces have witnessed security gains measured as a 67 percent reduction in total attacks across the province, according to military reports.

In the words of Capt. Gregory Hotaling, commander, Company D, 2-22 Inf. Regt:

“When I talk to my family and friends back home, they want to know what it’s really like over here and if we are truly making a difference,”

“Each time, I have explained to them the kind of change they have not witnessed yet. Battles and lethal operations have long ago ceased to be priorities. Our focus now is a return to normalcy – living and working and interacting with the Iraqi people. Positive changes are happening every day. They might not be big or flashy, but they are making lasting improvements that have already put victory for the Iraqi people within their reach.”

Posted by Cassandra at August 20, 2008 06:24 AM

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Minor correction: Kirkuk's just a city -- the province is At Ta'mim.

And most of the projects around here *are* being built with Iraqi dinars rather than US dollars -- which is a major step because the Iraqi economy is still mostly cash-and-carry.

Look at it this way -- how many US politicians would *you* give $50,000 dollars cash money to for infrastructure repairs and police training and trust them *not* to

1. skim anything off the top and

2. hire relatives for no-show jobs?

Posted by: BillT at August 20, 2008 08:40 AM

..."how many US politicians would *you* give $50,000 dollars cash money to for infrastructure repairs and police training and trust them"...
*lifts both arms skyward and makes the sign of the Obamanation*

Posted by: bt_in-an-indeterminate-state_hun at August 20, 2008 08:45 AM

Thanks, Bill.

Fixed now :)

Normally I look at my map before writing (my grasp of Iraqi geography - well, any geography, actually - is lousy. I always have to look at a map) but I had to move it when the painters were working on my office).

Posted by: Inconceeeeeeivable!!!! at August 20, 2008 08:52 AM


I would be worthless without you guys! :) You're the best.

Posted by: Inconceeeeeeivable!!!! at August 20, 2008 08:53 AM

Speaking of Iraqi women, I heard an interesting story yesterday.

Posted by: Grim at August 20, 2008 08:57 AM

women think differently than men?
Who would have thunk it?

Posted by: Cricket at August 20, 2008 09:04 AM

Ummmm -- does that mean I'm *not* sooooo dead, or just not sooooo dead *today*?

Posted by: BillT at August 20, 2008 09:25 AM

I always have to look at a map...

Heh. I checked GoogleEarth last week and discovered I'm closer to South Ossetia than I am to *Kuwait*...

Posted by: BillT at August 20, 2008 09:29 AM

Never, Bill :)
I need you guys around to keep me on the straight and narrow.

Or something like that.

Posted by: Cass at August 20, 2008 09:33 AM

I need you guys around to keep me on the straight and narrow.

You may be in more trouble than you realize...

Posted by: BillT at August 20, 2008 09:57 AM

Good point :p

Posted by: Cass at August 20, 2008 10:11 AM

Oh BillT, we loves our Sugarbuttons, we does.

Posted by: Cricket's Precious at August 20, 2008 11:13 AM


Posted by: BillT at August 20, 2008 11:35 AM

There was an interesting program on PBS last night concerning Iraqi refugees in Syria.

I found it interesting for the unasked questions of the "refugees".
1) Were they ever members of the Ba'ath party in Iraq. Several claimed to have been "wealthy". (?)
2) They could not get into Syria without a visa; who gave all these particular people Syrian visas.
3) One of the 'refugees' stated that if all the Iraqis had Syrian visas, 80 or 90% would leave Iraq.

Somehow, I actually doubt that, and that sounds like the kind of self-justifying statement that people make to cover their true convictions.

My conclusion is that a lot of these 'refugees' were Baathists, were known to be Ba'athists in Iraq, and were given visas by the Ba'athist government in Syria to protect them, by getting them out of Iraq. If Syria was so interested in the welfare of Iraq and Iraqis, they could stop supporting the 'insurgents' and police their border and the people transitting it from elsewhere looking for Jihad.

And nice article, Cassandra.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at August 20, 2008 12:57 PM

Don -- If you weren't a party member, you didn't get the networking necessary to *become* wealthy in Saddam's Iraq, and if you had "old money" and didn't join, you disappeared and your assets became Saddam's.

Posted by: BillT at August 20, 2008 01:58 PM

We all know that these women are CIA plants.

Oh, what Cass, you wanted us to keep you on the straight and narrow? I'll be with ya after we make the US government more inefficient, since they are all too efficient at torture and war as they currently stand.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at August 20, 2008 03:46 PM