Lioness: There for the Action, Missing from History


Lioness, the story of women who found themselves in combat in Iraq. Filmmakers Meg McLagan and Daria Sommers were inspired to delve into this new paradigm of the American military:

Five years ago, like all Americans, we watched reports of the invasion of Iraq. We were struck by a recurring footnote that emerged in the press. It wasn’t just young men who were fighting, it was young women too—wives, mothers, sisters, daughters.

The filmmakers started out covering five women who served in Iraq in an engineering battalion; but who, when circumstances changed, found themselves getting shot at. They shot back.

Department of Defense policy bars female soldiers from direct ground combat, but for Ms. [Shannon] Morgan, like the four other female soldiers profiled in the documentary “Lioness,” that regulation meant little in the heat of battle. Attached to all-male combat units in the Army and the Marines as part of the Lioness program, the female troops were used to search Muslim women as needed and to defuse the cultural tensions caused by strange men interacting with Iraqi women. But when fighting broke out, the female soldiers fought back.

Lioness highlights one awful truth, these women are not getting the credit they deserve for the risks they take on behalf of their fellow soldiers.

The practice of attaching women on a temporary basis to all male units is a convenient loophole that enables commanders on the ground to reduce violence without violating policy. But because it does not create a paper trail, it can limit a female soldier’s ability to be officially recognized as a combatant, which prevents them from advancing up the ranks and assuming meaningful leadership roles within the military hierarchy. This in turn inhibits their ability to shape national policy. Proof of having served in combat is also important for determining benefits available to veterans. Without documentation, it is harder for women to get the help they need for combat-related trauma.

It is my hope that this documentary helps these brave souls, and those that follow, get the credit and benefits they’ve earned with their blood, sweat, tears and fears. We have to do right by them. We have to recognize their sacrifice.
And we have to bring them all home.

View the trailer

PBS premieres the documentary in most areas November 13, 2008
for broadcast times in your area, click here

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