View Full Version : US deploys female Marines for search ops

05-27-04, 07:09 AM
NORTHERN KANDAHAR: US deploys female Marines for search ops
Madeleine Coorey


“‘Choop sha’, no talking,” American service woman Angela Bousquet firmly tells the Afghan women and children sitting at her feet.

Separated from the men of their village in insurgency-hit Uruzgan provinces, the group is being dealt with by the US military’s latest improvement in its search for Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan — 12 females in the infantry of the Marines.

Young, pretty and carrying toting shotguns, M-16s and pistols on their standard issue military uniforms, the six women assigned to ‘ C ’ Company of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit are part of a more culturally sensitive approach to detaining and questioning Afghan women.

As the US military is under fire in Afghanistan and Iraq for the alleged appalling treatment of some detainees, the sight of women searching and guarding Afghan women represents an acknowledgement from the US that what might be culturally acceptable in America does not work in conservative Afghanistan.

Searches of Afghan women by male coalition troops loom prominently among the 44 complaints against the US-led coalition force received by the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission received since its formation in late 2001.

“Afghans have their own culture and they don’t allow men to search females but during the searches this happens in some cases ....and that is something against Afghan culture,” commissioner Farid Hamidi said.

Although a man is still present at the interviews because all the interpreters with the unit are men, the 12 women are believed to be the first females to be deployed in combat patrol in the marines infantry in Afghanistan.

The six assigned to ‘C’ or Charlie company have been handed the call name ‘Charlie’s Angels’ — not surprising given the commanding officer of the marines in the field, Pakistan-born Lieutenant Colonel Asad Khan, goes by the tag ‘Genghis.’ “They called me and said we’ve got a name for you and I thought ’I hope it’s not Barbie,’” recounted Lori Butierries, 21, a hospital medic pulled from the US Navy to join the group.

In the remote villages, devoid of electricity and the most basic elements of modern life, the female marines are something of an oddity where many women rarely leave their homes or take part in public life.

“Generally, they are co-operative,” said Second Lieutenant Melanie Scott of the Afghan women. But they don’t know that we’re women until we take off our Kevlars (helmets).’’

They’ve just never seen females in uniforms, they’ve never seen women with weapons.” “Two of us smoke and that really gets them,” adds specialist Bousquet, 28, from Minnesota.

Perhaps the worst reaction has come from the male marines —one woman found that her ammunition had been hidden around the camp as part of a prank.

“We got a lot of advice before we came out,” Bousquet admits. “We were told ’The men have a mission. Stay out of the way’.” “They were shy,” says Butierries of the men. “They didn’t know how to react. They thought ’What are we going to do with a bunch of females?’ “But they respect you as long as you can hold your own.” The women have won grudging respect as it has become evident they are doing a tough job.

In their first two weeks in the field the women have been assaulted several times and in one case urinated on by a frightened Afghan lady, meanwhile they The women have not been given the extensive training handed to the men.

Yet after two weeks in the field unable to shower, sleeping in the open and tampon supplies exhausted, ‘Charlie’s Angels’ remain cheerful and confident that they are doing important work. — AFP



05-27-04, 07:39 AM
I'm confused ... is this story about female Marines or Army? There were two references to Army, "a hospital medic" and "adds specialist Bousquet, 28, from Minnesota." It could just be me ... but when I see Marines referred to in Army terms it goes across my grain.

Back to the main topic, my daughter is a Marine and I flatly, foursquare disagree with women being placed in frontline combat situations. I wonder who will pay if/when this social experiment fails?

“Afghans have their own culture and they don’t allow men to search females but during the searches this happens in some cases ....and that is something against Afghan culture,” commissioner Farid Hamidi said."

And in our culture we don't fly jets into heavily popluated buildings. Perhaps it's just my mean spirited conservative, card carrying Right Wing Operative stance that won't allow me to give a rip about their customs ... WE'RE AT WAR!

05-27-04, 09:20 AM
Perhaps the worst reaction has come from the male marines —one woman found that her ammunition had been hidden around the camp as part of a prank.

Army or Marines, not a good idea in hot territory. As far as the customs/PCness of the women vs men doing questioning, I think if we do to them what they do to us mode would be like making us as bad as them. Plus it would help us get more info we might be able to use. The part about one of the women gettin peed on by a scared Afghan woman is kooky to me. Was she not dressed? The story does have some flaws in it, I would agree...

PS: I would pput ! WM up against 5 Army women anyway...!:marine:

05-27-04, 11:47 AM
Agree with all above, a 'double edged sword' of sorts.

I don't agree with females in 'combat' or front line positions either. I've posted other places why.

But, we also have a unique opportunity here to demonstrate a little part of what 'LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL' can mean.

The equality of women to perform a task, along side of a man. Something that is VERY suppressed in Muslim culture. Is this a chance to demonstrate what a democraticlly structured republic (oxymoron) society can offer ??

But I DO agree that females should search females, etc. It's just RIGHT !! At war or not, it is still 'the right thing to do', to take prudent steps to keep male hands from a females' body. And vise versa.


02-10-06, 07:08 PM
In response to a few of the questions in the thread, all of the US military women who participated were either Marine Corps or Navy. I am US Navy, a Religious Program Specialist and at the time I worked with "C" Company I was the senior enlisted female for our company - therefore the SNCOIC for the female platoon assisting.
We were not put in harms way any more than was "necessary" and I am sure that if you ask any Marine or sailor who participated in those operations, that it was and will probably always be the high point of their career. I know that of the 20 women who participated in the operations over the 5 months we were in country, not a one of us was unhappy to do what we could for our country. That is why I am in the military...to protect and serve - whether it be toting a shotgun in the miserable heat of Afghanistan or in the climate controlled environment in which I am now stationed. We were providing a very important service to the beliefs of the local Afghanies and to the male Marines. By having women search the women, we the US were allowing the Afghan women to maintain their dignity. By having women search the women, we ensured that the Afghan women were not withholding weapons/ammunition that could have very well been used against the guys in our companies or any other US service member.

03-08-06, 05:04 PM
Semper Fidelis Spec Bousquet!

Thank God that someone realized the importance of respecting the cultural and religious sensibilities of those women who had been nothing but chattel for the past 20 years! Being searched by a male could very well have resulted in the death (legally, BTW) of the Afghan woman ... how many men face that type of threat even once in their life?

As for not having women in combat ... WHY NOT???? Does my plumbing keep me from being able to perform, or does it make me more 'valuable'? NO! In fact, my husband says I am the toughest person he knows and can take and deal with more pain that he ever could! And I say that he was better at raising our daughter than I was (until the teenage heebie jeebies ;-)! As in most of nature, the female of the species is the most deadliest!

I am sure that this has all been hashed out elsewhere, but 'ya hit the nerve' ;-) I am not a militant women's lib person ... but I have been on the receiving end of male chauvinism in too many venues and I refuse to be labeled and told my place based on gender and not on my capabilities which you just did, mrbsox and cjwright90.

A BAM and proud of it,
semper fi,