FERRIS, Iraq --
Five women graduated a female searchers training course June 5, which prepared them to work alongside Iraqi Policemen at entry control points here.
The Sisters of Ferris, trained by Combat Logistics Battalion 1, 1st Marine Logistics Group, with support from Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, will inspect women for weapons, suicide vests, large amounts of cash and contraband at ECPs.
1st Lt. Kathryne B. Schilling, a 27-year-old native of Bethesda, Md., and training officer, CLB-1, explained the women’s training included personnel searching procedures, Iraqi Rule of Law and personal safety classes, as well as how to question for illegal contents.
Interpreters explained the lessons to break the language barrier between the “sisters” and the Marines, and the periods of instruction were followed by practical application.
“The interpreters do a very good job of explaining things, but we do hands on training that is very helpful,” said Schilling.
They hid contraband on their persons, to test each other’s effectiveness, added Schilling as an example of the practical application.
The women were also taught weapon safety then fired AK-47 rifles and pistols. Afterward they received on-the-job training as the Marines stepped back to watch them apply their knowledge.
“If it’s the locals doing the searching then they have a better background knowledge of who the locals are, what’s normal and (can) build trust in the community,” said Sgt. Shelly R. Ledyard, 25, from Wauseon, Ohio, who trained the Sisters of Ferris.
A “sister” said she volunteered for the job to provide an income and to help make the city safer.
“It’s a great program because a lot of (women) want to be proactive and help Iraq,” Ledyard said.
The Marines and “sisters” also learned about each other’s culture through the week’s interaction.
One “sister” said the first day of training was the first time she had met Marines. Before, she thought they were scary but working with them showed her otherwise.
“It took a little bit to relax but by the end of the first day everyone was more comfortable toward each other,” said Ledyard.
During the last training day, the women reviewed the lessons taught. They also provided feedback for future “sisters.” Soon afterwards, a graduation ceremony was held and they received diplomas.
“The (Iraqi) people have never had female searchers, but they have to accept it because we must search them,” said a “sister,” of her new job.