ERBIL, IRAQ, Dec. 10, 2019 —
Milestones mark a journey and Kurdish security forces continued to move forward in November with the graduation of their first female military instructors in the region.
More than a dozen women in the Peshmerga are now certified to teach their fellow soldiers various skills and classes, including weapons, basic first aid, the law of armed conflict and preventing gender-based violence.
In Erbil, Iraq, the four who graduated at the Bnaslawa training center during a packed morning ceremony Nov. 28, 2019, had spent three months improving their knowledge and abilities to earn the coveted instructor patch.
“Srme,” who did not use her full name for security reasons, has fought Daesh militants for eight years. As a teen, she first volunteered for front line combat and served with no military training for six months before joining the Peshmerga.
Her new title gives her the opportunity to provide newer soldiers – both male and female – the lessons they need to continue the fight. Having already reached a rank equivalent to sergeant, she said she was proud to earn the additional distinction.
“For a woman to teach males is a big deal for us,” Srme said.
Graduates of the Advanced Instructor Course leave and become subject-matter experts for their units or stay and take the additional Master Training Course to become teachers at the center. The ceremony was barely over before Srme was already speaking to the school’s leadership about her ambition to join the master course.
Italian Army Col. Giuseppe Levato, Multi-National Kurdish Training Coordination Center commander, estimated that women make up less than 1 percent of the Kurdish security forces, but a variety of reforms planned by the government are expected to increase their number.
Another dozen female Peshmerga are expected to graduate from a KTCC combat medic course this month.
The colonel said the soldiers’ achievements help build pride and are a step forward for the community they serve.
“I think it helps the women determine their own role in society,” he said.
Levato pointed out that the instructor course itself furthers the Combined Joint Task Force’s mission to make the local forces self-sustaining by giving them the ability to train their own troops.
U.S. Army Maj. Keith Grant, a Coalition spokesman in Erbil, Iraq, noted the Peshmerga’s courage on the battlefield against Daesh, even before it started working in concert with Coalition forces.
“The Advanced and Master Instructor Courses are big milestones in their progression to a self-sustaining program,” Grant said. “They contribute to the Peshmerga’s growth as an all-around professional fighting force for years to come.”