CAMP AL ASAD — Three women from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 28 took the Navy in a new direction in the war on terrorism when, on May 3, they returned to Camp Al Asad, Iraq, as the first Seabees trained in a Marine Corps program called Lioness.
The Lioness program was born when Marine commanders needed a culturally acceptable way to conduct effective searches of Iraqi women at control points along the Iraqi border and other locations. Because men in Muslim countries are not allowed to touch women they are not related to, it was difficult to stop insurgents from using women to smuggle in arms or money. Lioness trains U.S. servicewomen to conduct searches of females, accomplishing the mission while being sensitive to Muslim women.
Often folks will say to me, oh you are in the Navy, you don't have to worry about going to Iraq, but that is actually not true. Over half my unit is now deployed, most to Iraq and another quarter have been there and are back now. The Navy does a lot more than float boats, we now operate in truly a joint environment. Sure the foot soldiers are the main door-to-door soldiers and are exposed to the most danger but we are all there helping out. These ladies are awesome....I know quite a few lady seabees who proudly served there.
**update, since this was posted the author was deployed from July 07 to Dec 07 on a US Navy Ship supporting OIF and OEF in the GWOT (we love acronyms in the military)