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America's 'gi Janes' Hit Iraq report from the African media.

#1 User is offline   jessefan 

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Posted 30 October 2004 - 12:13 AM

America's 'GI Janes' hit Iraq

Ned Parker
Posted Tue, 26 Oct 2004

Private Cherish Cooper, from Steamville, Texas, wears her blue eyeshadow when she goes out on missions in the badlands of the Sunni Muslin triangle.

"Just because I am at war, doesn't mean I have to look like crap," said the 19-year-old in her thick southern drawl, as she leaned on her M-60 machine gun, her long blond hair tucked beneath her army helmet.

Cooper and her comrade in arms, Private Atiyhia Godbold, 20, have hunted down snipers in Ramadi and tangled with insurgents on the perimeter of Fallujah.

The pair are living their dreams of being hard-as-nails soldiers — as bad as the boys, all the while insisting on their lip gloss and mascara even if their hair is not shampooed.

"We're doing roadblocks, cordon and knocks... We're doing everything the guys are doing... It's like 'GI Jane'," Cooper said.

In the past, women like Cooper were assigned mundane jobs like clerks. But in Iraq, they have been thrown into the middle of combat operations against the insurgency.

It may well be the furthest woman soldiers have ventured in the US military. During the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, supply convoys with female soldiers travelled right behind combat soldiers, but were not in the thick of the fight.

In fact, the adventures of Cooper and Godbold — like female military police women on the streets of Baghdad — may be one step ahead of Pentagon guidelines, which still enforces a ban on women on the frontline.

But don't tell that to Cooper, who prides herself on being more "badass" than her brothers back in Texas, who never joined the military. She comes back from missions "hyped up".

Almost two weeks ago, she visited the edge of Fallujah and helped US soldiers and marines arrest the city's police chief.

She frisked angry female relatives in the chief's house. When she handed them candy, they threw it back at her. When one female relative started to follow male soldiers around the house, Cooper handcuffed her.

"It beats staying in the office," she said, explaining her fascination with running around restive Al-Anbar province's wild and unpredictable streets.

In May, when Cooper's second combat brigade was told they would be deploying to Iraq from their base in South Korea, her logistics company picked her to be a "Lioness" — a female soldier used to pat down Iraqi women on the frontline.

Gathered around, with a team of male soldiers waiting to go on a mission to search cars, an officer asks "Are the Lionesses around?"

The freckled Cooper bats her massacred eye lashes and growls "Grrr, Grrr" ready to pounce on any foe who dares come her way


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