Antonieta Rico is an Army veteran and advocate of improved combat effectiveness and national security through the successful integration of women into combat arms. She is a Program Associate at Women in International Security's Combat Integration Initiative and a grad student at Georgetown's M.S.F.S. program.
I joined the Army at 19, straight out of a grocery store job in California and completely clueless about military life. Looking back there is plenty I would have done differently, like focus on my military skills as much as I did on my MOS skills. When I deployed to Iraq and embedded with infantry units during combat operations I learned real fast that qualifying with my rifle did not prepare me for combat missions, but I managed by watching and copying what the guys did. Being a woman attached to all-male units also required a delicate balance of professionalism and friendliness, something the first women in combat arms units will soon learn.