FET ramps up in 2nd Brigade

| December 7, 2012 | 0 Comments
Spc. Elly Tessendorf (left), 185th MI Co., 2nd Sqdn., 14th Cav. Regt., 2nd SBCT, 25th ID, keeps pace with Master Sgt. Laura Shade during the Female Engagement Team ruck march.

Spc. Elly Tessendorf (left), 185th MI Co., 2nd Sqdn., 14th Cav. Regt., 2nd SBCT, 25th ID, keeps pace with Master Sgt. Laura Shade during the Female Engagement Team ruck march.

Story and photo by Staff Sgt. Sean Everette
2nd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — When an Army patrol walks into a village in Afghanistan, one of the things Soldiers look and listen for is information that can help the mission.

A standard patrol made up of combat arms Soldiers, however, can only talk to half of the population of a village.

Afghan women are culturally off-limits to male Soldiers, so with the addition of a female engagement team, or an FET to a patrol, suddenly that other half of the population becomes accessible, and the information they have about what is going on in their communities is within reach.

The 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team is in the process of selecting Soldiers, here, for the FETs it will use during future operations in Afghanistan. The last round of selections ended Nov. 14, and will resume in the coming weeks.

Capt. Katherine O’Brien, 2nd SBCT provost marshal and FET officer in charge, said she is looking for a certain kind of female Soldier.

“Our FET selection is focused on finding Soldiers who have great physical ability, but who also have really good interpersonal communications skills, have the ability to build rapport, and are mature,” O’Brien said.

Spc. Elly Tessendorf, 185th MI Co., 2nd Sqdn., 14th Cav. Regt., 2nd SBCT, 25th ID, weighs in with her ruck sack before the Female Engagement Team march, Nov. 14. The ruck march is a part of the FET selection process.

Spc. Elly Tessendorf, 185th MI Co., 2nd Sqdn., 14th Cav. Regt., 2nd SBCT, 25th ID, weighs in with her ruck sack before the Female Engagement Team march, Nov. 14. The ruck march is a part of the FET selection process.

To assess these factors, FET candidates performed an Army physical fitness test, a 10.7-mile ruck march, an interview and a counseling packet review to get Soldiers who are most likely to excel in this position, said O’Brien.

Sgt. Maria Guajardo, 556th Signal Co., 2nd Battalion, 11th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd SBCT, 25th ID, has already been through this process and was selected for what she believes to be a very important job. She thinks FET members will be able to reach Afghan women in a way a male Soldier never would.

“It’s definitely a lot easier on Afghan women to have a woman to talk to, instead of a man, and they want to be like us, so they’ll be more likely to talk to us and give us the information we need,” Guajardo said.

O’Brien said that being on an FET doesn’t just benefit the Army, but also benefits the Soldier.

“It gives them leadership experience and leadership abilities,” said O’Brien. “They’re able to cross-train and use equipment they would normally use. They can use vehicles. They can go on patrols. They can do things outside of their MOS that will make them a more well-rounded leader and a more well-rounded Soldier.”

The 2nd SBCT is still looking for Soldiers to be part of the FET; formal training doesn’t begin until January. Female Soldiers in the 2nd SBCT who are interested in trying out need to see O’Brien at 2nd SBCT headquarters.

“It’s going to give them a really unique experience,” O’Brien said. “We’re coming out of Afghanistan, and there are going to be limited opportunities to do these kinds of missions in the future. So, if there’s anybody who’s interested in being a part of this team, I’d like them to come and see me, and see if we can put together a training package and incorporate them.”

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