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‘Attitude shift’: How covert groups of feminine US and Afghan troopers opened the door for ladies in fight


When Shelane Etchison was first embedded with the seventy fifth Ranger Regiment, some male troopers had been understanding and befriended her. But largely, she confronted a chilly reception as one of many first girls to be put in a fight position.

“A lot of people were very skeptical about how would women … be with these units,” Etchison, a former particular operations soldier, instructed Fox News. “There was a lot more scrutiny and skepticism on how we would perform.”

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Etchison was a member of the inaugural Cultural Support Team, a 20-woman fight pressure connected to the seventy fifth Ranger Regiment in 2011. That made her one of many first girls in U.S. historical past to combat alongside males on the entrance traces earlier than the Department of Defense lifted a female combat ban in 2015.

“It wasn’t an easy road,” Etchison stated. “It took awhile to change some hearts and minds within our own special operation forces.”

During the Afghanistan War, particular operations forces hunted high-value Taliban and al-Qaeda targets. But the all-male groups weren’t allowed to talk with girls and youngsters resulting from cultural norms, inflicting the U.S. and Afghan militaries to lose out on vital intelligence.

As a end result, the all-female Cultural Support Team was fashioned. Before lengthy, the ladies proved themselves and gained over not simply the Rangers Etchison was embedded with, however prime brass on the Pentagon.

WATCH TO LEARN MORE ABOUT ETCHISON’S POST-MILITARY LIFE: 

FORMER SPECIAL OPERATIONS SOLDIER RETURNS TO IRAQ – BUT THIS TIME WITH HER HARVARD MASTERS’S DEGREES

“There was such an attitude shift,” Etchison instructed Fox News, noting that a few of the males started questioning why girls weren’t allowed to attend Ranger faculty. “When I left, one of the Rangers gave me their patch and said ‘that’d be really cool if you became a Ranger one day.'”

The initial success of the Cultural Support Team led the particular operation forces to coach a covert unit of feminine Afghanistan troopers, finally dubbed the Female Tactical Platoon program, Etchison stated. The navy unit supplied an identical service because the Cultural Support Team, gathering intelligence via looking out and questioning girls throughout high-risk nighttime raids.

Together, the groups pushed the needle for ladies in fight.

“A lot of what we proved that we could do there played a big role in the Department of Defense ultimately rescinding the women on combat ban,” Etchison stated. “The same goes for these Afghan women and them proving themselves on the battlefield right there with their male Afghan counterparts.”

The girls of each packages skilled collectively, turning into mates whereas proving the significance of their unprecedented roles. Etchison emphasised the extra hazard the Afghan girls confronted.

Etchison serves in Afghanistan with the Cultural Support workforce, looking out and questioning girls and youngsters to collect intelligence on high-value Taliban and al-Qaeda targets. 
(Courtesy: Shelane Etchison)

“The roles were essentially the same,” Etchison stated. “What was different though was the level of courage that I think it takes to actually raise your hand and do that job.”

Afghan males who assisted the U.S. navy or performed any position within the nation’s authorities had been already among the many Taliban’s prime targets. But given the brutal regime’s oppressiveness toward women, forbidding them from even touring and not using a male chaperone or receiving an schooling, the members of the Female Tactical Platoon had an excellent greater bulls-eye.

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“There’s just so much more risk for them agreeing to associate and do this job,” Etchison stated. “A job that is leaps and bounds ahead of what Afghan women are doing in society, let alone the military and let alone the highest echelons of their military.” 

“I want these stories to go to the next generation of service women,” Etchison stated. “Hopefully they are inspired by it.”

To hear extra from Etchison on the development of girls in navy fight roles, click here



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