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Minnesota National Guard
Fellow Soldiers Respect Woman Who Can Do Job

In the theater of war that is the Middle East, Spc Brandy Christian believes so strongly in a woman's right to participate that she made a suggestion to her fellow Minnesota National Guard members

"I was attached to a field artillery unit in the rear, and I wanted an all-female gun," the 22-year-old Pipestone, Minn, native said by e-mail from Iraq, talking about a female crew loading and firing a howitzer "Obviously, I was laughed at"

But it's a serious matter for this young Soldier If a woman wants to and can complete the same training as men, "she should be allowed the same" military occupational specialties, Christian said

Uncle Sam disagrees Women can't serve in America's ground combat forces, though psychologically and physically, Christian argues women can be just as strong as their male counterparts

"Most (women) tend to be headstrong and independent," she said "We might not have the upper body strength like our male counterparts, but we try, and I'm sure when the adrenaline is pumping, you couldn't tell the difference"

A veteran of the National Guard for more than five years, Christian repairs everything from radios to night-vision goggles for B Company, 134th Brigade Support Battalion, based out of Camp Ripley

She said she's had little problem with sexual harassment in the military, either at home or in the Middle East

"If your commander constantly puts out that there is a zero tolerance and sticks to it, and if you make sure your peers know your boundaries, it's minimal," she said

If it ever did happen to her, Christian said she probably would take matters into her own hands at first "I'll embarrass him in public, and also tell a few male friends, and it is taken care of," she said "Otherwise I have full confidence in my chain of command"

It would be problematic for her to go into combat with someone who had sexually harassed her or someone else in her unit, Christian said

"Defending someone who has attacked me or another Soldier would be very difficult," she said "I believe to perform your job, you need good team cohesion I find it hard to have good cohesion if you are a victim of sexual harassment"

She hopes it never gets to that point So far, whether at home or abroad, Christian said she has been fortunate She has done her job, performed it well, and says that reality has brought her the respect of men and women in her unit

"I think many of my male counterparts forget that I am a girl," she said "They treat me no different than any of the guys Really, no different"

Steve Young,
July 1st, 2007
Source: www.argusleader.com

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