Kayla Williams had been rebellious in high school and believes the instability of her parent's marriage and their counterculture lifestyles played a significant role in her clash with authority. She went to college and did well. Upon graduating, looking for direction and a challenge, she enlisted in the Army Reserve during the Clinton era. The military offered improved benefits for pay and college loans depending on the length of time of enlistment. Williams gets high marks for language aptitude, learns Arabic as a result, and is assigned to a military intelligence unit. All of it was good for her despite the often mind-numbing routine while in basic training at Fort Campbell. She even got married but found the relationship could not survive the rigors and stress of military life, with the divorce being filed not long after.
Everything changed with 9/11 and the US involvement with Afghanistan and Iraq. She and her unit finally get deployed to Iraq. Her initial experiences are traumatic as she witnesses death and injuries up close. Eventually her unit is sent to run operations (ops) on a remote mountainside near the Syrian border far from where the fighting is. She finds that the villagers in Iraq are colorful, enterprising, and pro-American. She enjoys the camaraderie of her fellow soldiers but bristles under the command of her Staff Sergeant. She is asked to take part in interrogations of Iraqi prisoners but is mortified by the tactics of humiliation and abuse.
Williams develops problems with her feet and eventually must seek medical treatment for them. She is very candid about the nature of male to female relationships in the Army and the treatment of women in uniform. Hardly one to bash the male soldiers, who often misuse or harass her, instead she offers criticism of the women who use their sexuality for promotion and favors. She believes that most enlisted women crave the attention they receive, as they are outnumbered roughly 6 to 1 and treated as beauty queens. Williams is especially critical of the leadership of two female officers she served under. She returned to the US after her tour of duty and is upset with the lack of financial and medical assistance offered by the military to injured veterans upon repatriation.
This report prepared by David Fletcher