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Tuesday, July 19, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Iraq Army recruits women to inspect women at checkpoints

BAGHDAD — Iraqi security forces have been training women in an effort to enhance security amid Al Qaida strikes.


Officials said the Iraq Army and police were recruiting young women for field missions. They said many of the recruits, in a program overseen by the U.S. military, have been stationed at checkpoints and inspect female pedestrians for explosives.

"The goal down the road is total integration of the female soldier in the Iraqi Army," U.S. adviser Otis Brown said.

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The Army recruitment drive began in 2009 and so far more than 125 women have completed a 45-day course. Officials said the Army would expand the recruitment and training of women over the next year.

In April, 65 Iraqi women completed an Army basic combat training course in Baghdad. The women were taught military and weapons skills, including how to search pedestrians.

"They will be responsible for searching females at checkpoints as well," Maj. Gen. Samir Al Basha, commander of the Iraq Army's Tactical Training Directorate, said.

Officials said the Army and police have been hampered by a shortage of female officers. The Baghdad government has banned the use of men or canines to search women.

The shortage of women officers has facilitated Al Qaida suicide bombings around Baghdad. Al Qaida has used women for suicide missions, including the killing of 54 Shi'ites by a female bomber in February.

Iraq has also required women for administrative positions in the Army and security forces. In some cases, women soldiers on administrative duty volunteered for combat training.

"Most of these soldiers have been through one of the previous rotations of training and returned to receive an update to Army procedures and weapons training," Iraq Army Lt. Col. Raad Hashim Mohammed said.

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