Mind The Gender Capability Gap
It’s a strategic blind spot for the Pentagon, but gender and warfare are inextricably intertwined. Let’s train our forces to face that.
In 2009, frustrated that several male insurgents had escaped a cordoned area by disguising themselves as Afghan women in burqas, U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Matt Pottinger established the first U.S. Female Engagement Team in Afghanistan, taking a leaf out of the U.S. Army’s book in Iraq. Though these teams were an ad hoc, undertrained, and to varying degrees misused solution, they were nonetheless a significant institutional attempt to grapple with a growing realization: America’s enemies understand and exploit gender dynamics better than we do.
Fortunately, the Defense Department is now recognizing gender as a strategic and operational blind spot, but there is more work to do.
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