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.