A Female Engagement Team
As the counterinsurgency war in Afghanistan continues, so does the battle for "trust and confidence" of the Afghan people.
Women make up over half of Afghanistan's population. The culture prohibits the interaction between adult men and women. With this, security forces work almost exclusively from the male standpoint when learning about the communities.
Female Engagement Teams in the Marines stem from the "Lioness" program in the Iraq war, where female soldiers were utilized at checkpoints to assist with the search of Iraqi women. FET's goal is to engage with the local population, learning about the needs of the community and reporting on them, and help develop programs based on these needs.
But there are struggles that come with this. Female Marines are not allowed to patrol on their own, and often the patrols with which they embed have other missions to complete. Seeing women in such a role is also unheard of in parts of Afghanistan, making engaging with locals difficult. It is unsure of whether Female Engagement Teams will be able to have an impact without long-term presence.
The Female Engagement Team was one new part of this large counterinsurgency puzzle. In 2010, the first full-time FETs deployed to Afghanistan.