Female Engagement Team (FET)
The first concept of a FET was largely based on the Marine "Lioness" teams of Iraq, which had been successfully utilized to search female Iraqis for concealed weapons and contraband items during a wide variety of missions. Since then the teams have evolved into an important resource that can reach the local Afghan communities in ways that have not been done before. Because the FETs often patrol with infantry units, physical fitness is a priority.
In March, the Raider Brigade had a unit-wide FET assessment and selection where all qualified female soldiers (E1-O1) participated in hopes of becoming part of the program. The selection process was incredibly grueling - APFT, 9-mile ruck march, land navigation, infantry tactics, an obstacle course, and many mental challenges were incorporated over a 3-day period. Over 70 women participated, but only 30 were selected and these 30 are spread across the BDE to support each battalion.
The 4-9IN currently has 6 FET members. 1st Lt. Shasta Lewis is the 4/9 FET OIC; SGT Jessica Archuleta is the NCOIC; we have 4 Soldiers. We went to the National Training Center with 4-9 last June in order to train with the infantry platoons, learn their operating procedures, and become integrated with the Manchus. Since then, we have received language and culture training, and have become part of the battalion completely as we prepare to deploy with the unit.
The FET provides support by interacting with a key demographic that would be otherwise unapproachable by infantry men and their Afghan National Army counterparts: the women. We want to engage, find, understand and bridge the gap with the local populations within Afghanistan.
SPC Charese Bartlett is the first 4/9 FET member (and first female Manchu) to complete
the Manchu Mile and earn the Manchu belt buckle. SPC Bartlett has
done a tour in Iraq and will be deploying with the 4/9 to Afghanistan.