I wrote in my counterinsurgency series last year about the visible leadership role that women are playing in the counterinsurgency movement, and if you read Tom Ricks’ stuff, you’ll find some interesting descriptions of the Marines’ Female Engagement Teams. Here’s a dispatch from Cpl. Nicole Zook in Helmand. And here’s some observations from Blue Girl, who knows a thing or two about this stuff:
A simple change, like an FET going compound to compound and delivering humanitarian aid to the female head of each household rather than dumping it in a clamoring marketplace where the strongest and most feared men get the lion’s share makes a huge difference in how receptive to working with the Americans the Afghans will be, and the more receptive and open they are, the more successful COIN operations will be.
Of course, it will surprise no one, especially women who have served in the United States military, that the biggest obstacle to widening the use of FETs in Afghanistan is not Afghan males, but United States Marine and Army officers.