Cpl. Colby Brown / Marine CorpsLance Cpl.
Victoria Rogers, a member of a female engagement team attached to 1st
Battalion, 3rd Marines, jumps over a canal on her way to a local school
in Afghanistan. The Corps has transferred the FET mission to Afghan
I have worked with the Female
Engagement Teams (FET)while in Iraq and in Afghanistan and they can be a
valuable combat enforcer. What I’m not sure of is why an affective asset isn’t
being utilized anymore.
are a great asset to negotiate the searching of female Iraqi's and now Afghani
women as we continue to respect the local culture of preventing males from
searching Afghani women. If you don’t think Afghani women aren’t utilized in
combat your mistaken. There were more times than not Afghani females
would pass through our check points carrying weapons and explosives that were
only discovered because we had FETS attached to us.
However saying now that local
Afghani police/soldiers are doing the same mission is interesting. If they
could actually do it, then why did we risk our female Marines in the first
place to do it? It may be painted that the FETs are no longer needed because of
positive shift within Afghanistan and FETs or the mission they provide are no
longer required. Last time I checked, it
still was looked down at male Marines searching females. So which is it, we don’t
think Afghani females will carry weapons/explosives
or is the Marine Corps being reduced so much that we can’t provide FETS
Removing them could be solely
related to the massive draw down the Marine Corps is being hit with. Currently
the Marine Corps has the fewest women in its ranks (see chart below) and alongside
their male counterpart Marines, due to political decisions, the Marine Corps is
being drastically reduced already in Afghanistan and the Marine Corps as a military
branch beginning in Feb 2013 will be drastically reduced. Without Americans
searching Afghani women, it will be interesting to see if an IED rate spike is
seen in the near future. If there is, one would have to ask themselves if it
was because the enemy utilized women to move the IEDs or position them. You can
probably draw your own conclusions.
Time for a C-Gar!
The end of female engagement teams
Posted : Saturday Dec 29, 2012 10:30:32 EST
Marine Corps has ended its use of female engagement teams in
Afghanistan, saying their work is now performed by Afghan National
The shift happened in August, as thousands of
U.S. forces were withdrawn from theater amid a drawdown in forces, said
Lt. Col. Stewart Upton, a spokesman for Marine forces in Afghanistan.
There were about 17,000 Marines in Afghanistan early this year, but
there are currently fewer than 7,000, Marine officials said.
What you need to know:
1. A brief, but important, mission.
FETs were first established in Afghanistan in 2009, according to
briefing slides posted on NATO’s website. In 2011, there were 16
two-woman FETs in Helmand province, which Marine forces have patrolled
since 2008. Additional U.S. FETs were distributed across other
2. The FET’s role. FETs often were
tasked with distributing information to Afghan families and collecting
information from them, assisting with civil affairs and supporting
clearing operations, in part by searching women for weapons. FETs have
assisted not only conventional Marine units, but special operations
units as well.
3. Afghan males now do the job.
The move was somewhat expected. As Afghan forces take the lead providing
security in their own country, they are handling many of the missions
in which FET Marines had a role. FET Marines in Helmand told Marine
Corps Times in April that they expected their deployments would be cut
short as part of the drawdown there. In October, a male Afghan
lieutenant spoke with women and children in a compound in the Trek Nawa
section of Helmand while Marine scout snipers set their weapons for a
4. Evolved from ‘Lioness’ program. FETs
have drawn comparison to female Marine units that deployed to Iraq under
a program known as Lioness. However, where Lioness Marines focused on
searching Iraqi women, FET roles were frequently broader.
5. Preserving lessons learned.
The Marine Corps Center for Lessons Learned will release a report in
the future outlining the FET role in Afghanistan, said Col. Sean Gibson,
a spokesman for Marine Corps Combat Development Command in Quantico,
Va. It’s not immediately clear when that report will be released.