Dec. 31 in U.S. military history
Jan. 2 in U.S. military history

The end of female engagement teams

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 security forces.

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.


FETs 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 anymore?

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

By Dan Lamothe - Staff writer
Posted : Saturday Dec 29, 2012 10:30:32 EST

The Marine Corps has ended its use of female engagement teams in Afghanistan, saying their work is now performed by Afghan National Security Forces.

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 provinces.

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 mission.

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.