Kayla Williams (author)
Kayla Williams is a linguist and former intelligence specialist in the United States Army who wrote her experiences of the 2003 Iraq invasion in her book Love My Rifle More Than You. This book details her personal experiences during the war in Iraq. Williams represented a minority in the U.S. Army, since only 15% of the Army during the invasion of Iraq were female.
Kayla Williams was born to R. Darby Williams and Norma Jane (Spirit) Williams on September 14, 1976 in Columbus, Ohio. Her father was a "former pot smoker with anger-management problems" and her mother was a "Republican with an anti-authoritarian streak". Williams' parents divorced a year or so after she was born, and she was raised by her mother. She got to travel around much of the United States with her family and also had the chance to go to France.
Williams attended Learning Unlimited and Ecole Francaise for elementary and middle school and then attended Fort Hayes High School. She was a relatively happy child until high school where she joined the "punk" scene. Williams grew up without much money, so she "saw the disparity between the rich and the poor". She felt like an outsider, and the punk scene was a way of choosing to reject society instead of letting it reject her. Also, she enjoyed the music the punk scene offered because it made her feel "cool".
Following her undergraduate degree, Williams worked for Infinite Outsource in Tampa, Florida, a fund raising collective funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. In October 1999, "a personality conflict with a new female superior" got her fired from this job
Invasion of Iraq
In January 2000, Williams enlisted in the U.S. Army to train as an interpreter. She was an Arabic linguist/interpreter and SIGINT operations specialist. At the time of the September 11 attacks, Kayla Williams was studying Arabic within the Army. Although she did not support the invasion of Iraq, she took part in one of the earliest invasions in March 2003. Kayla Williams was an Arabic Linguist as well as a SIGINT operations specialist for 5 full years. This includes a full year of deployment (2003/2004) in SWA (Iraq & Kuwait) during the buildup to and during the invasion of Iraq. She continued to serve in Iraq until February 2004. She served in the 101st ABN Div (Air Assault), 3rd BCT, (187th Inf Regt) "Rakkasans".
Kayla Williams did not support the war in Iraq when they invaded. She says it seemed hypocritical to go to Iraq in search of Weapons of Mass Destruction while ignoring North Korea's nuclear program. She also believed that they were losing their focus on the real war on terror by invading Iraq instead of finishing the mission in Afghanistan. But after going to Iraq and meeting Iraqi people, she began to feel that they were doing the right thing even if it had been for the wrong reason.
However, her book details not only the hardships of the Iraqi people, but the soldiers themselves. She also spoke to Soledad O'Brien on CNN about the suicide of her colleague Alyssa Peterson and explained how she was also was forced to take part in torture interrogations during which detainees were assaulted, stripped, blindedfolded, and then confronted with a female interrogator. Williams also said she is still haunted by these events years later.
After the war, Kayla Williams wrote the book Love My Rifle More Than You to address the many misconceptions about female soldiers among the public. Some people did not know whether women were allowed in the infantry (which is forbidden by law) or if they could even carry a gun.
Shortly before the release of her book, Love My Rifle More Than You (Love My Rifle More Than You: Young and Female in the US Army New York: Norton and Company Inc.,2005), Williams was nearly court martialed for bearing witness to the mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners and not reporting it.
Williams lives near Washington D.C. with her husband Brian McGough (whom she met in the Army). They were married in August 2005. During an attack on his convoy, McGough took shrapnel in his head which took years to recover from. Williams cites her fiance's poor treatment in Army Hospitals as one reason she decided to change careers. Kayla and Brian just had their first child. (http://www.vetvoice.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=3627)[dead link] They own a three legged German Shepherd named Kelby, which means "my dog" in Arabic. As of September 2013, Kayla currently works at the Truman National Security Project.
Williams has been featured in numerous interviews including ones with journalists from CNN and NPR.
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- Williams, K. Love My Rifle More Than You, 2005, p. 36
- Mitchell, Greg (2009-04-24). "U.S. Soldier Killed Herself -- After Refusing to Take Part in Torture". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2009-04-25.
- Fresh Air - NPR Interview with Kayla Williams, discusses the near-court martial episode from 27:30 and 29:18 of the audio
- Reuters - "U.S. soldier chronicles abuse, hard times in Iraq" 8/17/2005
- Klein, Ezra (2013-09-20). ["http://video.msnbc.msn.com/all-in-/53066200" "Food stamps: Rhetoric vs. reality"]. "MSNBC: All In". Retrieved 2013-09-23.
- Official Website of Kayla Williams
- What's up at the VA - Time magazine article regarding the disability claims backlog at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (publlished 22 April 2013).
- "Fresh Air with Terry Gross - NPR Interview with Kayla Williams", first broadcast Aug. 25, 2005
- "U.S. soldier chronicles abuse, hard times in Iraq", Reuters, August 17, 2005
- "A woman and a soldier", book review at Telegraph.co.uk
- "My life as a bitch", book review by Carole Cadwalladr, The Observer
- "Chicks with guns", book review by Debra Dickerson, Salon
- Video interview, "Hard Talk", BBC
- [Debra, Ginsberg. "Kayla Williams' 'Love My Rifle More Than You' is a rough look at a rough woman soldier's lot in Iraq".The San Diego Union Tribune. 2005. 9 October http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20051009/news_lz1v09heroes.html]