MarSOC looks to women for new mission


The ShanMan
Jun 29, 2008
CA, WI, and TX

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. — Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command is making women an integral part of spec ops teams in Afghanistan, where they’ll be used to develop a rapport with Afghan women and, it is hoped, build broader support for the frail Afghan government.

MarSOC’s first female engagement team — comprising a captain, two corporals and a Navy corpsman — will spend about nine months with 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion, which is scheduled to take command of a task force later this year that will oversee U.S. spec ops forces in northern and western Afghanistan.

By attaching female troops to spec ops teams, officials hope to better navigate local Afghan customs that often prohibit interaction between women and men who are not members of their families. Just as soon as MarSOC was notified that 1st MSOB would deploy as a task force, officials made preparations for an engagement team.

“The whole goal is recognizing that the battle in Afghanistan is getting the people to buy into the idea of a state,” said an operations officer with the Marine Special Operations Regiment, a lieutenant colonel who asked that his name be withheld for security reasons. “You’re not going to get that buy-in by appealing to half the population.”

Federal law bars women from serving in ground combat units, including front-line spec ops forces such as MarSOC teams. But in Afghanistan and Iraq, where the front lines are often blurred, female service members have found themselves dodging rounds and joining firefights alongside men.

Officials said only that “a lot” of women expressed interest in joining the team after a word-of-mouth campaign alerted them to the opportunity.

Those selected had to meet specific criteria, which included having a first-class physical-fitness test score of 225 or higher and prior combat deployments.

They train to the same standards as MarSOC “enablers” — everyone from radio operators to engineers — who deploy with spec ops companies or adviser groups. That training requires them to master two weapons, the M4 carbine and 9mm pistol. Once they join their units, they’ll do unit-specific training, learning how to approach an Afghan village, for example, and how to respond to an ambush.

Hosptial Corpsman 2nd Class Jessica Ramon, a member of MarSOC’s support group, was selected for the first engagement team. She said she and the other women have learned some Urdu and Pashto, common languages in Afghanistan, but will rely on interpreters to communicate.

“I’m kind of a little nervous just because I haven’t been there before,” Ramon said. “But I want to go, and I’m ready to go.”
I've seen the FETs at work in Herat and Kunduz...100x better at interacting with the popualce than the damn PRTs, I'll tell you that.

Marines always adapt to whatever the mission is, and then prosecute it twice as hard. Not saying other branches don't do the same.
To clarify things, they are going to be used in the same role as the "lioness" teams in Iraq and will be used as female engagement teams. While they may be attached to a MARSOC team, they will not go through assessment and selection and will be one of the many enablers that make up the support group. I only say this because the article makes it seem like it's a huge deal but it's not that different than what is already going on all around the Marine Corps. The only thing that is different is that they will be working with MARSOC now. I mean they had Lionesses in Ar Ramadi when things were still crazy there. Here is an article, get your education on:
It's similar to what Civil Affairs Teams and Lioness Teams have been doing for a long time. However, they are raising the bar as far as training and standards of fitness in the case of the new MORSOC FETs. They won't be going through the ITC pipeline, but they will go through the STC developed by MARSOC for support personnel who are expected to deploy and work along side the MARSOC operators. It's just like anyone who goes from working in conventional forces to working in the SOF community, they had to step up their game.

The female's who made up those Lioness Teams and conventional FETs were not necessarily chosen because of a special skill or aptitude. The Lioness teams were thrown together out of necessity, and did a great job, bravo to them. The difference here is that this is a planned and thought out program. Many Marines have volunteered for it, but few have been chosen to participate. They were chosen because they are more physically capable, and possess skills (other than the twin mind-control devices on their chest) that are needed for the mission they will be doing on the ground. Probably won't see as many random admin, maintenance, and supply MOS holders, in exchange for more linguist, intel, coms, civil affairs, and medic types. This is a new program, and it sounds like it will be a good one.
Officials said only that “a lot” of women expressed interest in joining the team after a word-of-mouth campaign alerted them to the opportunity.
Shit yeah! I would be waiting in line like a concert whore two days ahead of the filing deadline if I even thought I'd qualify. BZ to those gals (A LOT) who did.