Nfld. & Labrador

N.L. soldier training Jordan's first all-female infantry platoon

The Royal Newfoundland Regiment's Sgt. Meaghan Frank is overseas in Jordan, helping advise the first all-female infantry platoon of the Jordanian armed forces. 

Sgt. Meaghan Frank of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment teaching weapons handling, leadership skills

Sgt. Meaghan Frank, left, of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment trains the first all-female infantry platoon of the Jordanian Armed Forces in marksmanship and weapons handling, on a training range in Jordan on Oct 17. (Rachel Anderson/DND CAF)

Meaghan Frank is getting used to making firsts in her military career.

In May, she became the first woman to reach the rank of sergeant in the Royal Newfoundland Regiment's 1st Battalion.

Now, she's taking part in training the first all-female infantry platoon of the Jordanian armed forces. 

"Basically what we do, we mentor, we train, advise, and then assist the all-female platoon," Frank told CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show from her base in Amman, Jordan's capital.

Frank, 26, said part of the job is setting a good example for the soldiers she's training, by teaching them that if she can do it, they can do it too. 

"We are working on training anywhere from basic soldier skills, like weapons handling, right up to leadership training, where we're working with the leadership in the platoon to help ensure that in the future they're able to sustain themselves and to help train the new females that will come through," she said.

Frank is part of a three-person female engagement team helping with gender integration in the Jordanian military. (Rachel Anderson/DND CAF)

'It's pretty cool'

Frank is part of a three-person female engagement team to help gender integration with the Jordanian military.

It's part of Operation Impact, the Canadian military's training mission in the Middle East. Based in Kuwait, its footprint is spread across Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Qatar. 

"Our roles are actually slightly different in each of the countries. But it's all focused around training or just a capacity building. So trying to make our partner nations better at what they want to be better at," said Col. Paul Lockhart, a senior officer with the operation.  

When it comes to talking about Frank and her team's work, Lockhart doesn't hide his admiration. 

"It's pretty cool, isn't it?" he said.

Col. Paul Lockhart of Operation Impact says the Canadian military is far ahead of its peers when it comes to integrating women into combat roles. (Jerome Lessard/DND CAF)

Soldiers like Frank demonstrate that women are competent, capable combat leaders, said Lockhart.

While the process of integrating women into combat trades isn't perfect, he said, the Canadian military is ahead of all of its allies. 

"We can help share those experiences and and demonstrate by success. And Sgt. Frank is one of those successes," he said. 

An overseas challenge

Frank is originally from Truro, N.S., but now lives in St. John's. Her life is a mix of studying in university, working part-time at a jewelry store and the army reserves. 

"I joined the reserves to kind of just give myself a challenge and to try something new. I had a lot of friends who had joined in high school who had said I should try it, but I didn't really think it was gonna be for me," she said. 

But that was seven years ago. Things have obviously changed. 

Frank marches in the Memorial Day parade in St. John’s on July 1. (Kurt Smith/DND CAF)

When the opportunity came up to volunteer for this tour, she leapt at it. 

"I put my name in for it right away, because I think it's such a great opportunity to not only do a deployment, but also to work with these females, these women and really see what other parts of the world, what their armies are like and how they operate," she said. 

And so far things are going pretty well. 

"We've had some ups and downs, but for the most part it's been really good, especially where we pretty much only work with the women."

Frank's stint abroad is scheduled to wrap up in mid-March 2020. 

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About the Author

Adam Walsh

CBC News

Adam Walsh is a CBC journalist. He works primarily for the St. John's Morning Show, and contributes to television and digital programming.