CAMP BUEHRING, KUWAIT " When University of Oklahoma architecture student Jennifer Arends hits the ground imminently in Iraq, her 5-foot-4-inch frame will bear the uniform of a U.S. Army solider, trussed with a 40-pound bulletproof vest.
Her sandy blond hair will be covered with a Kevlar helmet, she will view the world through darkened ballistic-lens sunglasses and she'll carry an M4 carbine, slung low over one shoulder.
Her mission will lie in detainee operations, she said.
"Because of me being a female, I will most likely be working in a juvenile center, taking care of those detainees," she said.
But when she steps off that plane into Iraq, she will step into a world where women can be relegated to a different status. In fact, throughout most of the Middle East, women face restrictions on:
" dress and
" transportation " in nearby Saudi Arabia, women are not allowed to drive a car.
Arends said she takes it into stride.
"In the Middle East, a lot of the men don't look at women as equals, and female soldiers, definitely not. They are probably going to comment on that," Arends said. "That's to be expected, because they were trained in the same facilities or raised the same way we are, and they have different standards and demands of their females. It'll be different, but we've been trained to be prepared for that." "Ben Fenwick
Read more about Ben Fenwick's Thunderbird travels.