First and foremost, let me say thank you for having me today. In Retreat Hell! She Just Got Here, I introduced my readers to Jasmine “Jazz” Winters, and in the follow up No Regrets, No Surrender, introduced Jazz’s fellow FET teammates Mary “Stormer” Phillips (Combat Barbie) and Roxanne “Roxy” Cortez—all Marines and Marines who have all seen combat.
On January 25, 2013, the Department of Defense reported that women would no longer be forbidden from front line combat roles, but the truth is women have served in combat since the formation of the first armies in the late 1770s. Where there is war, where women are—women are in combat.
If you do your research, you will find that the Continental Congress awarded a military disability pension to Mary Corbin for the battle of Fort Washington in New York. What did Corbin do? She manned a cannon during the battle and was injured in the line of duty. She only received half the pension that her fellow male soldiers received, but she did get her full ration of rum.
Arguments Against Women in Combat
One of the primary arguments was that women in combat couldn’t perform on the same physical level and that the presence of women in combat would distract the cohesion of the male unit—that men wouldn’t be able to function or not want to protect them at the cost to themselves. Counter arguments point that brothers in combat don’t leave their brothers behind and they go above and beyond to protect their fellow sailors, soldiers, Marines, and airmen.
Women who serve in the military don’t have to be on the front lines to see combat. In October, 2013 Specialist Brittany Gordon was with a team meeting with some local Afghani leaders when a suicide bomber targeted the Afghan and a piece of shrapnel killed her. IEDs do not pay any attention whatsoever to the gender of the target nor does a bullet or a war.
Female Engagement Teams
The roots of the FET teams can be found in Iraq and Afghanistan during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Communicating with the female Muslim populations is extremely important and the culture precludes their contact with foreign males or any male for that matter who is not a member of their immediate families.
Marine Lioness teams in Iraq would search female Iraqis for contraband and concealed weapons and the FET teams developed from there. They provide an invaluable resource not only to their commanders and units, but also to the local communities in a way that had never been managed before.
Female Engagement Teams can interact with women and children in the local populace, report information and provide it. They implement community development programs, and they can gather intelligence without violating cultural standards. The women who serve on these teams are highly skilled and screened and serve their country with distinction.
These are the women that inspired me to create Jazz and Mary in the first place.