AL-ASAD, Iraq --
In an effort to accede to the Iraqi culture, female Marines and Sailors completed Lioness training with Regimental Combat Team 5, 1st Marine Division, Feb. 28.
The 14 Lionesses will search female Iraqis for suicide vests, fake identification and contraband at vehicle and entry control points.
“I volunteered for the Lioness program to go out and search Iraqi females to ensure the safety of the Marines at my post,” explained Cpl. Rachel Trimble, a 22-year-old field radio operator with Communications Company, 1st Marine Logistics Group, from San Diego.
Lionesses were taught basic Arabic language skills, searching procedures, combat life saving skills, self-defense training. They also had a refresher course in weapons handling and spent time on the rifle range to help prepare them for the hazardous duty.
“We give (Lionesses) the knowledge and skills to survive,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Gene A. Bridgman, a 45-year-old from Garden City, Kan., regimental gunner, RCT-5, 1st MarDiv, who stressed the importance of safety.
“We took from the training (RCT-2) was doing, took feedback from the last Lionesses and taught what worked…” explained Bridgman.
One important change to the previous curriculum was the amount of language training. The education emphasized its importance by being taught Arabic daily.
“If they know a little language, it will go a long way,” said Bridgman.
Honing their language skills was challenging, said Cpl. Nicole K. Estrada, a 21-year old from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., but retaining the phrases is important for later use while on post.
“Instead of using sign language, we will be able to talk to them so they can understand us when we search them,” explained Estrada, who is a field wireman with Comm. Co., 1 MLG. “It will put them more at ease to know what we are telling them.”
For all the Lionesses here, the Lioness program is an opportunity to participate in a more direct role for a safer Iraq. Their prowess will be put to the test when they get to their post.