Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Send in the women

As noted earlier, Tom Ricks has been writing on the particular value of women soldiers in counterinsurgency warfare. He received a response from Corporal Nicole M Zook, a US Marine deployed in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, who wrote of her experiences with Female Engagement Teams in Iraq and Afghanistan. An excerpt:
These young ladies understand that through the FETs, they are being given the opportunity to make a connection and make a difference with Afghan women. Many times I see male Marines come to the Middle East with the attitude that everyone here is an enemy, and killing is the only answer. The FET volunteers care about the people of Afghanistan, and Iraq, as individuals, on a human level, with no preformed prejudice. That is why the program works so well. FETs go in with the right attitude, and the people know this. They are instantly welcoming, and we can see the difference we make among the women and children of Afghanistan firsthand - and we know that, in turn, they are making a difference among the nation's men through their family connections.

The powers that be are calling for more troops in Afghanistan. I agree, wholeheartedly. But let them be the right kind of troops. What we need, more than just bodies, are EOD technicians, able-bodied interpreters, counterintelligence specialists, and FET volunteers. Lots and lots of FET volunteers.

The topic is now receiving coverage elsewhere. On October 13th, The Takeaway discussed women in counterinsurgency with Army Reserve Maj. Paula Broadwell, researcher at the Center for Public Leadership; and retired Army Sgt. Genevieve Chase, founder of American Women Veterans, and today the New York Times ran an opinion piece by Paula Broadwell.

Those last two items found via Akinoluna’s blog on military women. She adds her own comments on the New York Times article.

Meanwhile, over on The Helmand Blog, there was a recent story on Sergeant Isabella McManus, MoD police, and her successful work mentoring policewomen in Afghanistan. Which leads to another thought. Last spring it was reported that Iran’s national police chief had stated his force’s readiness to help in training police in Afghanistan. Could he perhaps be persuaded to send these women officers?


Oscar Grillo said...

As I read this, Berlusconi speaks on the radio saying to an Italian lady politician: "Shut up, you are more beautiful than intelligent!"

kellie said...

He has a bizarre concept of charm!

I've just been listening to a talk by Michael Semple where he says that at a local level in Afghanistan, waging jihad is a sort of men's club activity, the equivalent of going down to the pub with mates. Andy Capp jihad!

kellie said...

. . . so all we need to end the war is to introduce billiards, or snooker.

Anand said...

Kellie, nice blog. Found about you through Mojo.

Iran has offered to train the ANA and ANP many times. Those offers should be taken provided the Iranians operate under NTM-A/CSTC-A (so that the ANSF are trained according to a single doctrine as per the GIRoA's desire.)

One theme in Iraq was that Iraqis liked US woman soldiers (because they could interact with their woman.) I have no doubt the same is true in Afghanistan.

kellie said...

Thanks for that Anand.