Managing female soldiers in a combat zone
You know you’re in the new army when your soldiers ask, “Sergeant, why don’t you join our diet plan.” Not knowing what the hell my four female soldiers were talking about, I said sure, what is it? “We all decided to lose a dress size over the next month. What dress size do you wear, sergeant.” Uhhhh, a five. “Yeah right!”
I laughed of course, but that conversation is a true depiction of the differences of managing infantry soldiers and female soldiers, both of whom provide a much-needed element to today’s army. They also know that they are girls, and know how to get what they want just like every girlfriend I’ve ever had.
“Sergeant, can I have the rest of the day off. I’m not feeling well,” said a soldier who was batting her eye lashes and staring at me with those big, puppy dog eyes. But this is the army, and I look at them as soldiers – not girls, who are admired and looked at by every man – both American and Iraqi – on camp. So, my answers to their questions are typically no unless it’s reasonable. Not feeling well? Go to sick call. Want a day off? Get your work done.
In my spare time, I look at sports sites and read mystery novels. They shop for bras on Victoria secret and watch Sex and the City. For PT, I want to run or lift weights. They want to do Tai Bo. I play PlayStation. They give each other facials.
They believe that they have to maintain their girlyness in this stressful, very manly environment. More power to them. I respect the decision they’ve made to be soldiers and have seen them endure more combat and know that they’ve seen more “shit” than most infantry soldiers. I’d put a couple of them up against any soldier in the U.S. Army – they’re that good. But as they say, girls will be girls – even if they are soldiers. They wear nice-smelling creams and listen to Britney Spears, and if they could, I’m sure they’d grow their hair out to their backs.
And even though I have observed and managed these bright young women for 12 very long months, I still don’t have a clue about women. Just when I think I have one of my soldiers figured out, they throw me for a loop and ask me a question like, “Sergeant, I met this boy and he’s in the infantry. And he’s really cute. I like him. But I don’t think he likes me. If a girl liked you, but you didn’t know it, would you want to be approached by the girl?”
Hey, I’m their NCO, which means I’m also their relationship counselor at times. Their nickname for me? Dad. This means when they bring a boy into the family, I make sure he knows that I'm their boss.