Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Faces of Freedom ~ Marine Lioness Program

Lioness Program
22 Aug 2006 Female Marines training for the Lioness Program watch as police officers, Rory Byrnes and David Redd from a police transition team demonstrate the proper procedures to search people for weapons at Camp Korean Village, Iraq, July 31. Eight female Marines from different units within 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing volunteered for the Lioness Program to conduct security searches of women crossing into Iraq. Byrnes is a McKinney, Texas native, and Redd is a Madison County, Miss., native.
Photo by: Staff Sgt. Raymie G. Cruz
Lance Cpl. Hollye K. Meeks (left) searches Cpl. Roxanne Cox
22 Aug 2006 Lance Cpl. Hollye K. Meeks (left) searches Cpl. Roxanne Cox, after receiving a class on the proper procedures from members of a police transition team. Eight female Marines from different units within 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing volunteered for the Lioness Program to conduct security searches of women crossing into Iraq. Meeks is a motor transport vehicle operator, Marine Wing Support Squadron 374, Marine Wing Support Group 37 (Reinforced), 3rd MAW, and a Houston, Texas native. Cox is a maintenance management specialist, with Marine Aircraft Group 16 (Reinforced), 3rd MAW, and a Cincinnati native.
Photo by: Staff Sgt. Raymie G. Cruz

Cpl. Valerie Gavaldon (right) helps Cpl. Roxanne Cox
22 Aug 2006 Cpl. Valerie Gavaldon (right) helps Cpl. Roxanne Cox (left) adjust the front site post on her M16A2 service rifle, during the live-fire portion of their training at Camp Korean Village, Iraq, July 31. Eight female Marines from different units within 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing volunteered for the Lioness Program to conduct security searches of women crossing into Iraq. Gavaldon is a combat engineer, Marine Wing Support Squadron 274, Marine Wing Support Group 37 (Reinforced), 3rd MAW, and an El Paso, Texas native. Cox is a maintenance management specialist with Marine Aircraft Group 16 (Reinforced), 3rd MAW, and a Cincinnati native.
Photo by: Sgt. Jennifer Jones


Female Marines Train for Iraq Border Security
By Staff Sgt. Raymie G. Cruz, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing

CAMP KOREAN VILLAGE, Iraq (Aug. 13, 2006) --
To strengthen the fight in the Global War on Terror, female Marines have been implemented at tactical control points along the Iraqi borders to stop insurgents from using women smugglers to gain funds or weapons to support their efforts.

Eight female Marines from different units within 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing volunteered for the Lioness Program and will conduct security searches of women crossing into Iraq.

"I wanted to do something different," said Sgt. Alice Dunne, electrical equipment repair specialist, Marine Tactical Air Command Squadron 38, Marine Air Control Group 38 (Reinforced), 3rd MAW, and an Oxford, Wis., native. "In Al Asad, you never feel like you're in the fight, you are just doing your job."

The Lioness Program was born of necessity when commanders saw a troubling situation during raids and other missions, according to Sgt. Maj. Brian K. Jackson, sergeant major, Marine Aircraft Group 16 (Reinforced), 3rd MAW.

"The men they sent charging into the city, often into private homes, made Iraqi women uneasy," said Jackson, a Gary, Ind., native. "Searching the women proved difficult, as Muslim culture dictates that men are not to touch women they don't know."

To prevent violations of the culture and the smuggling of arms and funds into the country, the Lioness Program was implemented.

During the 30-day rotation of the Lioness Program, the selected Marines received briefs and appropriate training from Regimental Combat Team 7 personnel, before going to Camp Korean Village, Iraq. They were briefed on the program, in addition to what their duties would entail.

"This is a good opportunity for female Marines to do something outside of their Military Occupational Specialty and get a chance to work with the infantry," said Master Sgt. Scott R. Zaehler, operations chief, Headquarters and Service Company, 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, RCT-7, and a McHenry, Ill., native. "A big part of what they do is showing their presence. Just being seen by insurgents works as a deterrent and keeps them off balance."

Upon arriving at Camp Korean Village, the Marines received more intense classes on procedures and how to properly handle themselves in various situations. The training included everything from proper search techniques to shooting from supported firing positions.

"The training put you in the combat mindset that every Marine is a rifleman, regardless of gender," said Lance Cpl. Hollye K. Meeks, motor transport vehicle operator, Marine Wing Support Squadron 374, Marine Wing Support Group 37 (Reinforced), 3rd MAW, and a Houston, Texas native. "It was realistic training to help familiarize you with your gear, and your weapon. I don't know what to expect, but I'll expect the worst, hope for the best and rely on my training."

The program has been operational for three months and their role has helped win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people.

"The Lioness Program has worked very well," said Master Sgt. Jose A. Reyna, operations chief, 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 7 and a Murrieta, Calif., native. "They are doing a good job and are getting to know the people very well. Some of the families seem like they almost want to adopt (the Marines) into their own family."

"I wanted to see a different part of the Marine Corps," said Lance Cpl. Katheryn A. Saldarriaga, nuclear, biological and chemical defense specialist and Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear response team member, from Glendale, Calif. "I wanted to see the culture and the people."

Although most of the volunteers are from different units and military occupations, they have bonded as a tight-knit team and have learned to count on each other in the short time they have trained together.

"I have confidence in the rest of the team," said Cpl. Valerie Gavaldon, combat engineer, Marine Wing Support Squadron 274, MWSG-37, and El Paso, Texas, native. "I'm confident they can handle the mission. We're showing people that females have a special mission in this war as well."

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I was inspired by our Wednesday Hero post (below) to know more about the Lioness Program. These are remarkable young women who provide the peace and security we depend upon and take for granted here at home. You all amaze me - Thank You!
Please read the post below about a Lioness who gave her life.

6 comments:

yankeemom said...

You saved me from having to look up the Lioness Program myself - lol!
Thanks ~ Linking to you.

daniel said...

Haven't heard of the program.
...'proper procedures to search people for weapons'
Amazing how professional we are and they are rude savages.
FTGF!

FreeCyprus said...

Fine post and great pics.

It is because we in the West encourage our women to be strong, brave and intelligent that we can defeat anything that comes our way.

It's what makes us great.

Flag Gazer said...

Yes, this program is a representation of many fine things about our country!

Anonymous said...

i got thrown into doin the lioness program and i dont know wat to expect... wat is it you do out there exactly??

olivia said...

i got discouraged about not really being able to help in the Marines with what i wanted to do but now that i looked at the Lioness Program i really feel that i can make a difference. but where do begin???

---olivia---