News: Male, female soldiers attend female engagement training and female shura
Story by Sgt. Kimberly Bratic
CAMP MARMAL, Afghanistan - Fifteen soldiers of the 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team and several other coalition force service members participated in female engagement team training and a female shura here, March 24-28, 2012.
During the training, the soldiers completed several interactive courses including Afghan history and culture, stability operations, counterinsurgency, conducting key leader engagements, and Dari language.
The soldiers received instruction from female engagement team advisers as well as representatives from public affairs, the commander’s emergency relief program, the COIN Advisory Assistance Team, and gender advisers.
On March 26, 2012, Brig. Gen.l Khatool Mohammadzai, the highest-ranking female and director of women’s affairs in the Afghan army, visited the group.
Mohammadzai, through her language assistant, expressed how important female engagement teams are in Afghanistan’s evolving culture.
Three of the soldiers attending the FET training were male.
“It is very important for males to train as part of the FET. The Afghan culture is male dominated. The inclusion of males allows the team to engage male Afghans prior to engaging the females. This helps reinforce our understanding and respect for Afghan culture norms in the eyes of our target audience,” said Sgt. First Class Gregory C. Sewell, military information support operations planner and information operations non-commissioned officer in charge, assigned to Headquarters Company, 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. “Each gender brings unique capabilities and strengths to the team. We are more effective working together than approaching engagements focusing solely on one gender.”
Afghan culture does not allow for females to openly speak with anyone outside of her immediate family.
FET operations allow for better assessment of the needs of the Afghan people by communicating with the other 50 percent of the previously forbidden population, the Afghan females.
The training ended with the team’s participation at the female shura held on March 28, 2012, whereas the team was encouraged to interact with key female leaders representing several provinces of Afghanistan.
The shura, the fourth held in Regional Command-North involving female leaders from Afghanistan, allowed province representatives and social affair directors a chance to address Brig. Gen. Eric P. Wendt, deputy commander for the International Security Assistance Force, RC-N, for requests of aid from the commander’s emergency relief program and to discuss the Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Program, a program designed to help former fighters to break ties with terrorists and to agree to abide by the Afghan Constitution thus bringing them peacefully back into society.
The female engagement team members will be used in future operations conducted by the 37th IBCT while they are deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.