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379th ESFS female Airmen lend skills to SOCCENT

  • Published
  • By Tech Sgt Rasheen Douglas
  • 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
USSOCOM has recently been developing Female Engagement Teams (FETs) across the Middle East. When looking at the country of Qatar, they determined the 379th ESFS was a valuable and untapped resource.

USSOCOM has previously conducted an exchange program with the Qatari female officers, utilizing U.S. Marines from the Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU). This will, however, be the first FET from the 379th ESFS to engage and work with the Host Nation female security forces.

FETs have existed since the early days of the Global War on Terror (GWOT), when U.S. Forces realized the need to operate in societies where men are forbidden to engage with women. In spite of this cultural sensitivity, U.S. Forces realized the risk posed by dismissing the female population, especially against an elusive and asymmetric enemy who exploited this security gap.

As USSOCOM and Partnered Coalition Forces move away from the GWOT and return to normal peacetime/security operations, the FET program is maintaining a steady state of employment to ensure persistent engagement with Host Nation women, continuing to respect their culture and traditions.

The FET program is being employed across the Middle East, not solely within Qatar, and seeks to engage with Muslim women and security forces to ensure a positive exchange of Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures as well as strengthening cultural bonds with strategic allies across the region.

Within the Qatari culture it is deeply important for a male to maintain their ladies honor and modesty, thus creating strict lines of segregation within their society. However, the Qatari Security Forces continue to strive to be a holistic law enforcement agency and realize the need for female security forces to engage with women within their society; so as to maintain decency and respect for the citizens of Qatar.

“I remember when I first volunteered for FET; I remember thinking ‘what did I sign up for?’ Once, we started training I wished for more of the training,” said Staff Sgt. Kathleen Aea, 379th ESFS Unit Security & Defense Biometric Identification Data System manager. “I’m excited that we're serving a purpose so we can interact with Qatari women and increase cultural awareness with one another.”

The 379th Security Forces have a constant rotation of females who are already trained in both law enforcement and security operations. With a presence 365 days a year, the Air Force is in a perfect position to build a strong relationship with the partner nation, with whom they also share a base.

The women of the 379th ESFS conducted several Periods of Instruction to include a tailored Combatives program, utilizing skills from the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program, Air Force Combatives, and the Special Operation Combatives Program.

A medical POI was taught covering care under fire, treatment of combat trauma wounds, patient sustainment and transportation. The Personal Security Detail portion instructed the ladies in the TTP's for escorting a Very Important Person (VIP), both in vehicles as well as on foot.

Air Force FET members continued to refine their combat marksmanship skills on the range as well as receive instruction on foreign weapons that their host nation counterparts utilize.

“We've been given training that has allowed us to build on existing skills as well as learn new techniques to make us more rounded Security Forces members,” said Master Sgt. Patricia Hart, 379th ESFS Check Six non-commissioned officer in charge. “Meeting with our female Host Nation counterparts and building the ground work for future exchanges has been an eye opening and rewarding experience!”

All skills taught and refined during the course of instruction, as well as the continuing sustainment training with USSOCOM personnel, will ensure the Air Force FET members are prepared to work with Qatari female security forces, as well as continue to enhance their primary duties as security personnel.