NTM-A Public Affairs
07.02.2011 CAMP MARMAL, Afghanistan – A multi-force team of service men and women from the northern Region of Afghanistan have just added another tool to help them in regional military operations.
A collection of soldiers, sailors and airmen from several coalition countries received engagement team training from June 20-26 at Camp Marmal, near Mazar-e-Sharif.
Engagement team trainees practice basic weapons tactical movements at the training range at Camp Marmal, near Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan. By engaging and talking with Afghan National Security Forces members, the Regional Support Command – North engagement team can better understand the concerns of the Afghan women currently assigned to the force. (Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Mike Andriacco)
The mission of the engagement team in Regional Support Command – North is to provide a gender perspective with regards to recruiting, training and assigning Afghan National Security Forces women. This is an important mission with regards to International Security Assistance Force goals in the country for a variety of reasons.
“Afghan women make up more than 50 percent of the population in Afghanistan and are key leaders in their communities and homes,” said Army Maj. Karla Porch, RSC-N operations officer and office- in-charge of the engagement teams at RSC-N. “They have a lot of influence on those communities. By engaging and talking with them [ISAF] can better understand security concerns and the concerns of the Afghan women currently assigned to the force. By understanding the operational environment and the people that are in it, we will have huge gains in our efforts to transition security to the ANSF.”
NATO has set the end of 2014 as the timeframe to complete that transition and recently the president of the United States announced the planned withdrawal of up to 30,000 service members the end of 2012.
During the training, the teams learned about the roles of men and women in the local Afghan society, cultural sensitivities of those groups, basic language phrases, reporting requirements and basic tactical skills.
“As a team we will utilize learned techniques to engage with the community leaders and officials of the areas that we will be operating in,” said Air Force Master Sgt. Natasha Williams, engagement team member and medical supply mentor for the 4th Forward Support Depot. “Community involvement is important so that engagements with Afghan females will provide support to local security, governance, development, and the overall needs of the community.”
The RSC-N team has already met with some success.
“We have had several engagements with the Afghan Border Police women and have been able to institute training that they have specifically requested,” Porch said. “By interacting with them, we have also been told by them that they have gained confidence in their jobs and want to assume more responsibility. Their male counterparts have noticed this and are respecting them more.”
The RSC-N engagement team is not alone in its mission. Coalition forces from across Regional Command – North participated in the training as well, with a slightly different mission goal. While the RSC focuses on recruitment, mentorship and assigning ANSF females, the RC engages with the community to ensure the needs of both the male and female civilian populations are met.
Also held during the week of the training was the first-ever combined female security shura, or meeting, held in the northern region. Female leaders from all nine provinces, to include the former president of Afghanistan’s wife, Bibi Haji Rabbani, and the Afghan Border Police and Afghan Uniform Police, were in attendance and discussed topics related to security and women’s role in the region. Engagement teams provide the link between ISAF, Afghan leaders and the population to help develop ways to improve security as a combined team.
Engagement teams are another tool commanders to use in a counter-insurgency environment. By having coalition forces readily available that have a baseline of specialty training to advise their commands and fellow troops, ISAF can better understand the Afghan female population and the positive influence they can have on security in Afghanistan.
Anyone interested in joining an engagement may do so by contacting an engagement team member on their base.
“Participation as an engagement team member is completely voluntary and is a secondary duty,” Porch said. “Personnel interested in participating should request permission through their chain of command and we will be more than happy to have them on the team!”