Female Engagement Team

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A U.S. Army sergeant, part of a Female Engagement Team in Afghanistan, gathering information from women so that blankets and winter clothing can be distributed to the women and their families

Female Engagement Teams (FETs) are groups of female military personnel around the world which undertake specialized gender-suited tasks. FETs' tasks are as varied as American FETs interacting with local Afghan women in Afghanistan;[1] Ghana Battalion FETs taking part in gathering intelligence during peacekeeping operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo;[2] New Zealand Defence Force FETs support Special Operations Force objectives, the primary role being to "engage with local women and adolescents [...] in situations where it would be culturally unacceptable to involve male SOF operators",[3] and the Jordanian Armed Forces FETs helping to conduct physical searches of woman along the borders.[4] However FETs also have had their fair share of limited success and problems in certain operations, with service personnel unable to interact successfully with the required population, lack of translators, too short a time frame or commanders refusing to take up FET missions.[5][6]

Female Engagement Teams have their roots in American military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, in the form of Team Lioness between 2003 and 2004.[7] In 2009 the US Marine Corps attached FETs to infantry units. One of the first FET programs is with 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, Farah Province, Afghanistan.[7] The first permanent American FET arrived in Afghanistan (Regional Command Southwest) in March 2010 whereas the first British FET began in October 2010.[8] Australia, United Kingdom and Canada also employed FETs in Afghanistan. Sweden used all-female as well as mixed-gender engagement teams.[6]


  1. ^ McCullough, Sgt. Christopher (2 October 2012). "Female engagement teams: who they are and why they do it". www.army.mil. Retrieved 21 September 2019.
  2. ^ "GHANBATT female engagement team boosts image of Ghana in UN Operations in DRC". United Nations Peacekeeping. 22 January 2019. Retrieved 21 September 2019.
  3. ^ New Zealand Defence Force (23 July 2018). "The SAS Female Engagement Team deploys". Medium. Retrieved 21 September 2019.
  4. ^ Connolly, Amanda (4 July 2018). "A few good women: Female Canadian soldiers to train 1st all-female platoon in Jordanian army – National". Global news. Retrieved 21 September 2019.
  5. ^ Ricks, Thomas E. (14 January 2016). "Thinking About Afghan Operations: How a Female Engagement Team Failed". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 21 September 2019.
  6. ^ a b Prescott, Jody M. (21 November 2018). Armed Conflict, Women and Climate Change. Routledge. ISBN 9781315467191.
  7. ^ a b Rivers, Eileen (6 November 2018). Beyond the Call: Three Women on the Front Lines in Afghanistan. Hachette Books. pp. Contents. ISBN 9780306903090.
  8. ^ 1stLt Zoe Bedell (May 2011). United States Marine Corps. Female Engagement Team. Retrieved on 21 September 2019.

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