In a male dominated field, and in a male dominated environment, women Soldiers continue to stand out. It’s what they do.
Two female Soldiers have completed their mission in Saudi Arabia as instructors to Saudi Arabia military members – historically an occupation not open to women.
Master Sgt. Amelia Baysden and Sgt. 1st Class Cori Noble provided training as part of the U.S. Army Military Assistance Group to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Interior, part of the Security Assistance Command’s mission in that country.
“I was expecting some students to be uncomfortable with having female instructors,” Noble said, “but that was not the case. The students treated us no different than our male counterparts and were very respectful.”
Advising and training the Saudi Ministry of Interior’s military forces on defending their country from threats and protecting infrastructure is the critical reason for USASAC having a presence there.
“This is important for Saudi Arabia to become self-sufficient and to have a strong presence in the Middle East,” Baysden said.
The women were chosen to be the instructors after submitting a packet to a board for review. The board members decided who gets accepted as instructors for this important mission.
“Perseverance really pays off,” Baysden said. “I applied for this position in 2017 and was denied because at the time females were not allowed.”
“I am a drill sergeant so training Soldiers is what I do,” Noble said.
U.S. Army’s female drill sergeants have trained Soldiers for over 40 years. The first six female students to complete drill sergeant school began training Soldiers in 1972, after receiving permission to be included in the drill sergeant program by the Army chief of staff. These first females were graduates from the Women’s Army Corps and stationed at Fort McClellan.
Drill sergeant school is nine weeks long in the Army. Drill sergeants are tasked with the responsibility of training new Army recruits through Basic Combat Training.
Female drill sergeants symbolize the strength and diversity of the Army and the nation. They serve to train the current generation of Soldiers and inspire the next generation of leaders. Duty as a drill sergeant is personally and professionally rewarding. Becoming a drill sergeant exemplifies a commitment to be a mentor and role model for Soldiers as part of the cornerstone of the Army profession.
“The proudest thing I’ve accomplished is becoming a drill sergeant and training Soldiers,” Noble said. “As a 68W I train Saudi students combat medic skills, which is important for them to learn how to treat injuries and save lives.”
However, both Baysden and Noble said their time in Saudi was more than just training.
“Learning from the students about their culture and their 2030 Vision for their country,” were some of the best parts for Baysden on this assignment.
“The students were incredibly accepting of female instructors and wanted to learn from our experiences,” Baysden said.
“Not only are our U.S. forces allowing females on USA-MAG mission, but now Saudi Arabia is allowing females into their forces,” Noble said.
Both women are hopeful more opportunities will present themselves for female Soldiers.
“The USA-MAG mission is a very unique assignment that doesn’t come often in a career,” Noble said. “I would encourage more females to apply and become part of a special partnership with the Saudis.”
Baysden is a reservist from Wilmington, North Carolina. As a child of two active duty Soldiers, she knew she would join the military one day. The events of 9/11 motivated her to join in 2003.
Noble is from Waterloo, Iowa. Her mother was in the 82nd Airborne, which inspired her to join the Army after graduating high school in 2010.
Baysden is a 88Z senior transportation sergeant/92R parachute rigger with the 650th Transportation Company out of Wilmington. Noble is also a reservist, serving with the 2/377th 95th Training Division out of Davenport, Iowa, as a combat medic.