First female Army engagement team comes to Fort Bliss
Staff Sgt. Jason Ragucci,
1st BCT, 1st AD Public Affairs:
The Marines started female engagement teams three years ago, and now the Army has adopted the same program.
Capt. Kelly Hasselman is the first commander of the Female Engagement Team detachment for 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division. She is an alumna from the Citadel and has been a Soldier for more than four years.
“Our mission is to engage the Afghan local population, primarily women and children, to build relations and establish contact in order to gain their trust and cultural respect,” said Hasselman.
Correspondent Rosiland Jordan interviewed Hasselman for the Aljazeera English Channel on the differences between the cultures of the U.S. and Afghanistan.
“In America a man can come up and talk to any woman, but in Afghanistan that’s not how it works. Only the male head-of-the-household or family members can talk to the women in that family. That’s where we come in. Our job is to get the women and children’s side of the story and hear their concerns,” said Hasselman. “One of their [Afghan women’s] biggest concerns is security. They want the same things for their family as we do our family. We take the information to our commanders so they can make an all-around assessment that is appropriate to the area that we are in.”
Hasselman emphasized the importance of thorough preparation.
“Training is important and essential as well as repetition,” said Hasselman. “Currently, my team is in a 16-week Pashto language training, which will help them engage Afghan women in their host nation’s language. Then, my team will move in to basic combat skills so they will not be a liability to the infantrymen.”
“I’m excited because I get to do something that I’ve signed up for,” said Spc. Jessica Burke, who has been a combat medic for two years.
“I feel my job will be more important than what I was doing and it gives us more of a direct line to what is going on in the Middle East,” said Sgt. Miranda Larsen.
Female Soldiers who volunteer for an FET will not go through infantry training and will not be awarded a combat military occupational specialty. They will follow infantrymen inside Afghan homes to question and converse with women and children who reside there.
Short URL: http://fbmonitor.com/?p=12694