Tabasum Sharqi (left) opens a book she received for graduating at the top of her Fatima Girls High School class at a ceremony held at the Kunar Department of Women’s (click for more)
Soldiers from the Polish Army and the Texas National Guard Agribusiness Development Team-IV check their shot grouping during qualification on the Polish AK-74 5.56 mm Mini-Beryl short assault rifle Feb. (click for more)
U.S. Army Soldiers from Company B, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Task Force Duke, play an impromptu game of volleyball against a team (click for more)
Dr. Mehirulla Muslim, the Nurgaram District subgovernor, addresses an audience of teachers, government officials and citizens during a ceremony to celebrate a completed solar panel electricity project Feb. 21 in (click for more)
U.S. Army Spc. Raheem Stewart, an automations specialist with TF Phoenix, steps along the rafters of the building his team helped wire for communications. Stewart, from Dallas, was one of (click for more)
An Afghan National Army soldier from Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 201st Infantry Regiment, searches a pile of rocks in the courtyard of a high-value target home outside the village of (click for more)
U.S. Army Capt. Nicole Zupka of Fair Lawn, N.J., a battlewatch captain with Combined Joint Task Force-Paladin, helps an Afghan child with her writing skills during female engagement team training (click for more)
LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Afghan National Army soldiers move through Kharwar District to prevent the Taliban’s freedom of movement Feb. 12. U.S. and Afghan soldiers braved more than 3 feet (click for more)
Kentucky Agribusiness Development Team II members, U.S. Army Spc. Justin Allen (left), a London, Ky., native, and U.S. Army Sgt. Nicholas Combs, a Corbin, Ky., native, get to know a (click for more)
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – In an effort to maximize communication with the Afghan population and to honor their customs, coalition forces train female engagement teams to interface with local women.
FET training teaches service members and civilians to communicate with Afghan women without offending their way of life. The five-day course consists of Pashto and Dari language training, Afghan religion training, Afghan cultural training and many other lessons to prepare the students for future engagements. The final test prior to graduation is an exercise that allows the students to utilize the skills they learned throughout the training on local Afghan women.
“The female engagement team ... has been around for the past nine years, we are just starting to put a name on it now,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Teresa Wolfgang, 404th Civil Affairs Battalion commander out of Fort Dix, N.J. “Fifty percent of the Afghan people are women; if you ignore 50 percent of the population, you’re not going to get that much information. This is Afghan culture and we have to respect it, that’s where the female engagement team comes into play.”
The FET team has many roles when talking to Afghan women out on patrol.
“The FET team helps connect the local populous to the government in a more direct fashion that has been done in a while,” said U.S. Army 1st Lt. Lindsey Pawlowski of Chicago, a FET member with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Special Troops Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division. “It provides an opportunity to gather information from Afghan women within a town.”
During missions, FET members can assist in accomplishing the task and purpose for the patrol, as well as get the other side of the story from the local females in the village, said U.S. Army Col. Stephen Bentley of Austin, Texas, 101st Abn. Div.’s human terrain analyst team leader.
“During the patrol after-action report, the FET team members will report their findings as well as what the other soldiers found out from the males of the village, so it will give you on the ground-truth situational awareness of the village,” Bentley explained.
Wolfgang, a native of Roanoke, Va., touted the female engagement team as another tool in the commander’s toolbox that can be used to practice their counterinsurgency strategy.
“It’s good to teach and empower the kids rather than just give out humanitarian aid,” said U.S. Army Capt. Nicole Zupka of Fair Lawn, N.J., a battle watch captain with Combined Joint Task Force-Paladin.
Classes are scheduled quarterly, but are based on demand.
“The FET team is a tremendous enabler to a team, mission, patrol, and to local villages,” said Bentley.
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