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Female Engagement Teams (FET)

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The primary task of the Female Engagement Teams or FETs to engage the female population of Afghanistan. Contact with Afghan women is culturally inappropriate for male members of the military. This cultural limitation hinders operations such as civic-action, raids, information gathering, and other types of missions. The FETs overcome this limitation and allows coalition force contact with Afghan women - who comprise about 50% of the population of Afghanistan.

Female Soldier on patrol in Afghanistan
(DVIDS photo by SGT Scott Tant April 2010)

Websites about FETs

SOF Cultural Support Teams (CST). While "big Army" has the FETs the Army's SOF has their CSTs. The CST members are selected and undergo special training to prepare them to work with Army special operations forces.

Publications and Reports on FETs
(listed in chronological order)


Bell, Jerri, "Review praises 'Beyond the Call: Three Women on the Front Lines in Afghanistan'", Military Times, November 30, 2018. Bell reviews a new book about Female Engagement Teams in Helmand province, Afghanistan in 2013.


Cook, Gabrielle. Counterinsurgency and Female Engagement Teams in the War in Afghanistan, E-International Relations, August 16, 2015.

Nicolas, Ashley, "What the Female Engagement Team Experience Can Teach Us About the Future of Women in Combat", Military Review 95, (March 2015).


Babin, Lisare Brooks, U.S. Army Female Engagement Teams: Integration & Employment, Fort Belvoir: Army Research Institute for the Social and Behavioral Sciences, April 2014.

Babin, Lisare Brooks, U.S. Army Female Engagement Teams: Training, Fort Belvoir: Army Research Institute for the Social and Behavioral Sciences, March 2014.

Babin, Lisare Brooks, U.S. Army Female Engagement Teams: Assessment & Selection, Fort Belvoir: Army Research Institute for the Social and Behavioral Sciences, March 2014.

Babin, Lisare Brooks, U.S. Army Female Engagement Teams: Overview, Fort Belvoir: Army Research Institute for the Social and Behavioral Sciences, March 2014.

Azarbaijani-Moghaddam, Sippi, Seeking out their Afghan Sisters: Female Engagement Teams in Afghanistan, Chr. Michelsen Institute, CMI Working Paper WP 2014:1, March 2014. This report follows the course of FETs in southern Afghanistan during the period of 2010 to 2012. It critically examines the assumptions underpinning the teams and why they produced so few results.

Fraser, Charotte. The Deployment of Female Counterinsurgents in Afghanistan, E-International Relations, February 22, 2014. Available here.


Beljan, Robert. "Afghanistan: Lessons Learned from an ISAF Perspective", Small Wars Journal, May 30, 2013. The last part of this LL essay deals with FETs in Afghanistan.


Haring, COL Ellen, "Female Engagement Teams: An Enduring Requirement with a Rocky Start", US Army Peacekeeping & Stability Operations Journal Online,  Volume 3, Issue 1, October 2012, pp. 7-12.

Wibben, Annick T.R. and Keally McBride. Counterinsurgency and Gender: The Case of the Female Engagement Teams, E-International Relations, July 17, 2012.

Holliday, LTC Janet R., "Female Engagement Teams: The Need to Standardize Training and Employment", Military Review, pp. 90-94, March-April 2012.

Harding, Tyra A., Women in Combat Roles: Case Study of Female Engagement Teams, Master's Thesis for United States Army War College, March 2012.

Medeiros, Sheila, ISAF Joint Command's Female Engagement Team Program: Comprehensive Assessment Report, January 15, 2012.

Long, Gail C., Effectiveness of U.S. Military Female Engagement Teams, Masters Thesis, Naval Post Graduate School, 2012.


Russo, Claire and Shannon Spann, Female Networking Operations: A Tactical Tool for Strategic Advantage, Orbis Operations, LLC, June 2011.

Bedell, 1stLt Zoe. United States Marine Corps Female Engagement Team, May 2011, USMC FET Briefing. Posted here on NATO's website. (Adobe PDF).

Center for Army Lessons Learned (CALL). Commander's Guide to Female Engagement Teams, Handbook by CALL, Version 3, September 2011. (FOUO).


Pottinger, Matt, Hali Jilani, and Claire Russo, "Half-Hearted: Trying to Win Afghanistan without Afghan Women," Small Wars Journal, 2010.

Videos about Female Engagement Teams (FET) in Afghanistan

Facing Down Threats: Opening Afghanistan Schools, Marine Female Engagement Teams in Action, March 2014. Available here on YouTube (2.5 mins).

Female Engagement Teams: Women in the U.S. Marines Building Relationships. Available here on YouTube. (3 mins.)

Nangarhar Female Engagement Team. Available here on DVIDS. May 31, 2013.

News Articles about Female Engagement Teams (FET)

April 23, 2020. "FET's break barriers, make history". The Globe. The role of Marine Female Engagement Teams in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

August 30, 2014. "FET training teaches soldiers how to work with women". Article is about a two-day FET class held at HQs of Regional Command South in Afghanistan.

March 4, 2014. "2nd Cav. Regt., 10th Sust. Bde. FETs reflect on female ANP successes". DVIDS. FET based at Kandahar Airfield mentors 8-week female ANP basic course.

April 18, 2013. "FET to Fight: Female Engagement Team makes history".

April 12, 2013. "Female Engagement Teams level the playing field in Afghanistan". DVIDS. View article here. Training for FETs outlined in story.

February 25, 2013. "Life on COP Jannat: through a FET's eyes". Here on DVIDS. A Female Engagement Team (FET) describes their mission on COP Jannat.

December 29, 2012. "The end of female engagement teams". Marine Corps Times. A Marine spokesman says the use of Marine FETs has been discontinued. (Note: this news report could be inaccurate).

October 2, 2012. "Female engagement teams: who they are and why the do it", Two FET members explain their jobs at Forward Operating Base Sweeney.

September 9, 2012. "Vanguard soldiers try out for female engagement teams". DVIDS. The selection process proves to be a grueling event. Available here.

March 12, 2011. "FET Supports International Women's Day Celebration in Baghlan Province". DVIDS. Major Linda Johansson (Sweden), the Female Engagement Team coordinator participates in celebration. Available here.

January 21, 2011. "Course trains cultural teams to work with women in theater". Available here.

December 9, 2010. "Women-led US teams work with Afghan women". Available here.






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