I am so glad to see my old Brigade, the 27th “Orion” Brigade Combat Team, is in the news for thinking outside the box and using everything in their tool-box to make a difference on their next tour.

I was in the 27th when I deployed in 2006 as my team was sort of a forward recon party for the Brigade’s deployment that happened in 2008-2009. In fact because I knew my son would be deploying with the Brigade in 2008, I wanted to deploy earlier so we both would not both be gone at the same time.

Now hear it is a meager 2 1/2 years after the Brigade got back from Afghanistan and here they are getting ready to go back. Amazing that once again a bunch of citizen-soldiers are stepping away from families, friends, loved-ones, and jobs to go back into the country of Afghanistan in order to make a difference.

But this time they are doing something a little different, and that is creating special teams of Females. These Female Engagement Teams (FET) made up of Forty or so women will engage women of Afghanistan to help bridge the gap in culture. There have been some of these FETs already deployed by the Marines and I think some Army units and from what I have heard, they have made a difference and done well.

Lets hope that the 27th FETs can do the same thing and leave Afghanistan and its people a little better off when they leave then when they get there.

An Albany woman who graduated with a master’s degree from Harvard University and once taught English in South Korea will coordinate a new U.S. military effort to reach out to women in Afghanistan.

The New York National Guard recently tapped 2nd Lt. Dawn Hersey, 30, to manage its two new Female Engagement Teams, which will mobilize for Afghanistan with the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team in November. The 40 or so Guardswomen from New York will serve as cultural mediators to Afghan women, to whom male soldiers are not permitted to speak because of the country’s traditional customs.

The engagement teams will attach to combat units. They will meet with women in Afghanistan to build trust, glean intelligence and improve relations.

The challenge appears to be a good fit for Hersey, an Ivy League intellectual with sky-blue eyes who listens intently and answers questions forthrightly. She joined the military later than most because she wanted to lead soldiers in combat and someday take that experience into classrooms as a college professor.

“I always wanted to feel what I am doing has meaning,” Hersey said in a recent interview. “This is something in which I think I can make a real impact.”

Female soldiers can attach to, but not be assigned to, military combat units. Female Engagement Teams were introduced by the Marines in 2009. The groups bring female troops into war zones.

The National Guard women will accompany male soldiers during raids and other missions in which Americans segregate Afghan men from women and children for questioning. It will be during such information-gathering that the female soldiers will meet with Afghan women and children to try to build relationships and direct them to resources like health care. While officers used to peel female mechanics and drivers from their military jobs to accompany them on combat missions, the 27th BCT’s Female Engagement Team represents the first time in which National Guard women will concentrate solely on reaching Afghan women.

Read the whole story at http://www.military.com/news/article/soldiers-train-to-work-with-afghan-women.html