Oklahoma Female Soldiers Play Crucial Role In Afghanistan

Friday, November 11th 2011, 5:25 pm
By: News On 6

Specialist Butcher was one of nearly 200 women who are deployed with the 45th. And she proves these soldiers are facing just as much danger as their brothers in arms.

They may don scarves along with their Kevlar, but they're soldiers just the same. And they may not officially wear the title "infantrymen," but the military says female soldiers are serving right alongside them.

"It was a good day for us and a bad day for the insurgents," said First lieutenant Angela Zook.

First lieutenant Angela Zook, from Ponca City, is serving with the 45th and helping to train the Afghan army. She was there last month when this Afghani unit took the lead for the first time searching a village for weapons.

"I think they improved tactically and they were more organized. They still need some work that's the reason that we're here. But they greatly improved their skill sets for the military," she said.

Oklahoma guard leaders report nearly 200 Oklahoma women are deployed in Afghanistan. Some, like Zook, are serving side by side with her male counterparts; others are going on all-female missions, doing a job others can't.

"The battalions are really starting to realize what a great asset we are," said First Lieutenant Quincy Washa.

Afghan culture forbids male soldiers from even talking to Afghan women, let alone searching them. So some Afghan women were being used to smuggle weapons and explosives for insurgents. Female soldiers with female engagement teams are able to search and talk to Afghan women and children.

"The women are very excited to see American females out there helping them," Washa said.

And when they're not winning hearts and minds, these daughters, sisters, and mothers are putting their lives on the line.

Military leaders say in Afghanistan there is no traditional frontline, so these women are in just as much danger as other soldiers.

And nearly 80, including Specialist Sarina Butcher, have paid the ultimate price to serve their country.

11/9/2011 Related Story: Checotah Soldier To Be Buried In Southwest Arkansas