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Thursday, October 27, 2005

Females in AIT

One reader asked me what life is like for females going through AIT. Being male my observations are from the "outside", but here is what I saw:

Females certainly received no special treatment in the AIT class I went through. No more, and no less, was expected of them than of males. However, I got the impression that the females created problems for themselves. I'll write about what I mean in a moment.

One of the females in the class cut her hair short, approached every challenge with a can-do attitude and very much acted like a soldier. Some of the other females branded her "GI Jane". That name frustrated her at first, but I think she began to wear it like a badge of honor as she became very successful in the program. On the other extreme, there was a female who would smile at everything, and apparently is very used to getting her way whenever she acts cute. She became a special project of one of the Drill Sergeants and had quite a hard time. Part of the "special" treatment was being given a student leadership role during a critical time. She had to lead actions of the class during our final field training exercise. Sometimes her decisions or indecisions caused (simulated) deaths. She took this very much to heart, and learned quickly that war is not a game. In my opinion the special treatment she received was professional and motivated out of an honest desire to turn her into a fine soldier.

Another female forgot to bring tampons to the field (a big no-no: you are taught that you MUST plan for all of your needs while deployed. There are no drug stores in the Iraqi desert to pick up a few things you forgot). A Drill Sergeant found out, and decided to "punish" her my making her Student First Sergeant for a few weeks (Student First Sergeant is a student tasked with organizing both the Psyop and Civil Affairs elements that made up our class). They reasoned that she would realize through being responsible for other people that she needs to be responsible for herself. I think it worked out well. She rose to the challenge, and did an outstanding job leading the class.

Females were not the only ones who received special treatment. There were several males who did not act as a soldier (especially a Special Operations soldier) should. They were given the same hard (but fair) time. Some of them stepped up to the challenge, and some failed. The ones that failed did not graduate with the class.

I mentioned earlier that the females created problems for themselves. On the male floor, there were occasional issues with a person not doing his duty here, or a person not squaring away their bunk there. However, on balance, we got along. From what I hear, the female floor was more like Jr. High School. There were females who flat refused to clean up anything, but were nasty-dirty themselves. There were clicks, and the clicks made fun of each other. There were bitter rivalries. A few of the females decided to hook up during pass (strictly forbidden!), and they fought over the same guy. One female got caught doing that and was removed from the class (the male involved was an already-trained soldier from a different company, I don't know how or if he was punished).

At one point a Drill Sergeant from the other class was upstairs yelling at the females in their barracks for a solid hour because of their infighting.

I don't have first-hand insight into what went on up on the female floor (except for one funny story I'll relate another time), but apparently it was quite an emotionally challenging environment.


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