Spc. Melissa Kranning, a petroleum supply specialist attached to A Company, 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 1st Armored Division, pulls security on a patrol in Baghdad July 9. She is a member of the 47th Forward Support Battalion, a 1st Armored Division unit out of Baumholder, Germany. U.S. Army photo Spc. Ryan Smith, 372nd MPAD
Female Soldier Patrols Baghdad Streets with the 1st Armored Division
By U.S. Army Spc. Ryan Smith 372nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
BAGHDAD, Iraq, July 10, 2003 -- The debate has gone on for years: should women serve with combat units in the military?
If the question asks whether female soldiers are up to the challenge and rigor of infantry duties, one woman serving in Iraq would answer with a definite "Yes."
Spc. Melissa Kranning, a petroleum supply specialist attached to A Company, 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 1st Armored Division, is serving in what is regularly an all-male combat unit. Although not actually a part of the infantry unit, she and two other females are attached to the unit, for duty in Baghdad.
Due to religious and cultural beliefs in Iraq, female soldiers serving as de facto infantrymen have become a necessity. Soldiers serving as gate guards must pat down civilians coming through the gate, to ensure that someone does not smuggle a weapon or explosive device onto the U.S. compound downtown, while soldiers on patrol (outside of the gate) search people suspected of looting or other crimes. Often, however, the people who are being searched are Muslim women who do not wish to be touched by men -- especially American men, whom they do not know.
Therefore, Army leaders requested female soldiers to volunteer to work with infantry units, whose duties include patrolling the streets and guarding the gates to coalition posts in Baghdad.
Kranning, 20, a Minerva, Ohio, native, deployed to Iraq with her unit, the 47th Forward Support Battalion, a 1st Armored Division unit out of Baumholder, Germany. When offered the opportunity, she volunteered to be attached to the 2/6 Infantry Regiment.
Kranning's regular unit is currently stationed at the Baghdad International Airport, and many soldiers in the 47th FSB do not have reason to leave the secured area there.
She saw this as her opportunity to experience something new and different from her life with her regular unit. "I get to go out and see the city," she said. "That's something a lot of people in my unit don't get to do."
Kranning also found that life with an infantry unit is much different from what she is used to. "It's a totally different world."
"They have a different way of thinking," she said. "They have a 'go out and get them' kind of attitude."
As far as duties are concerned, Kranning does not see a distinction between herself and the other soldiers in A Company.
Her job is to search women for weapons coming through the gate while she's on duty there, and to interfere in any crime while she and other soldiers in the unit are on patrol. If women are suspected of a crime, Kranning searches them.
" She's a hard worker," said Staff Sgt. Julio Fortis, her squad leader from A Company, 2/6 Infantry. "She sticks with us in extreme heat, and long road marches while we're on patrol."
" And she doesn't fall out," he said after a patrol in which another soldier in the company had to be treated for dehydration.
" The way she works, there should be females in the infantry," Fortis said.
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