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‘Angle 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 75th Ranger Regiment, some male troopers had been understanding and befriended her. However principally, she confronted a chilly reception as one of many first girls to be put in a fight position.

“Lots of people had been very skeptical about how would girls … be with these models,” Etchison, a former particular operations soldier, advised Fox Information. “There was much more scrutiny and skepticism on how we’d carry out.”


Etchison was a member of the inaugural Cultural Help Group, a 20-woman fight pressure connected to the 75th Ranger Regiment in 2011. That made her one of many first girls in U.S. historical past to struggle alongside males on the entrance strains earlier than the Division of Protection lifted a feminine fight ban in 2015.

“It wasn’t a straightforward street,” Etchison mentioned. “It took awhile to vary some hearts and minds inside our personal particular operation forces.”

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

In consequence, the all-female Cultural Help Group was shaped. Earlier than lengthy, the ladies proved themselves and gained over not simply the Rangers Etchison was embedded with, however prime brass on the Pentagon.


“There was such an angle shift,” Etchison advised Fox Information, noting that a number of the males started questioning why girls weren’t allowed to attend Ranger faculty. “After I left, one of many Rangers gave me their patch and mentioned ‘that’d be actually cool if you happen to grew to become a Ranger sooner or later.'”

The preliminary success of the Cultural Help Group led the particular operation forces to coach a covert unit of feminine Afghanistan troopers, finally dubbed the Feminine Tactical Platoon program, Etchison mentioned. The navy unit offered an identical service because the Cultural Help Group, gathering intelligence by means of looking and questioning girls throughout high-risk nighttime raids.

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

“A whole lot of what we proved that we may do there performed a giant position within the Division of Protection finally rescinding the ladies on fight ban,” Etchison mentioned. “The identical goes for these Afghan girls and them proving themselves on the battlefield proper there with their male Afghan counterparts.”

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

“The roles had been basically the identical,” Etchison mentioned. “What was totally different although was the extent of braveness that I believe it takes to truly increase your hand and do this 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. However given the brutal regime’s oppressiveness towards girls, forbidding them from even touring and not using a male chaperone or receiving an training, the members of the Feminine Tactical Platoon had a fair larger bulls-eye.


“There’s simply a lot extra danger for them agreeing to affiliate and do that job,” Etchison mentioned. “A job that’s leaps and bounds forward of what Afghan girls are doing in society, not to mention the navy and not to mention the very best echelons of their navy.” 

“I would like these tales to go to the following technology of service girls,” Etchison mentioned. “Hopefully they’re impressed by it.”

To listen to extra from Etchison on the development of ladies in navy fight roles, click on right here. 

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