The Veil of Kevlar: an Analysis of the Female Engagement Teams in Afghanistan
Erwin, Stephanie K.
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Recent developments in the population engagement strategies associated with Operation Enduring Freedom and the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan have led to the emergence of the Female Engagement Teams. These Teams seek to provide insight and intelligence while engendering American and ISAF efforts in the region, by utilizing female service members to actively engage and interact with the population. This thesis endeavors to answer the question of how the Female Engagement Teams evolved around combat exclusion and given the nature of the conflict in Afghanistan can they serve to facilitate the missions of counterinsurgency and population engagement This paper will serve as the beginning of the academic analysis of this concept and policy for potential use in future determinations by civilian and military leadership. Understanding of both the tribal networks wielded by women and their capacities to influence their world while still recognizing the given constraints and realities of gender seclusion are a necessity to truly exploit the human and cultural terrain in Afghanistan. The FETs despite the restrictions of combat exclusion seem the preeminent means by which to tap into this fountain of possibility.
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