November 5, 2005:
Ivory Coast president Gbagbo's new security detail is made of 300 women - allegedly because male attitudes toward women are so negative in Ivory Coast, that the new bodyguards have a good chance of not being noticed by any assassins, until it's too late. The presidential security detail in Libya is also full of women. This is largely because Libyan dictator Kadafi trusts the women more, believing they are less likely to betray him, or succumb to bribes. Using women for the "palace guard" is actually an ancient custom in Africa. For this job, loyalty is more important than physical strength, and in pre-gunpowder days, the "Amazon" bodyguards could be quite deadly around the palace using swords, spears and bows. An army of such women might not do so well in a pitched battle out in an open field. But in the closed confines of the palace, trained and determined women could, and did, turn out to be quite deadly. Nowadays, with lightweight firearms, body armor and physical conditioning programs adapted to female physiology, female bodyguards are equal to men in deadliness, and a big business. Most people, including potential assassins, still don't see women as a part of a security detail. But they are there, and they have the element of surprise because of their gender. As a result, several commando organizations have female members, which they don't like to talk about. These women are far more effective if the bad guys of no idea what they look like, or even know they exist.