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'Dragon' Brigade's female engagement teams stays busy in Paktika Province

June 25, 2012

PAKTIKA PROVINCE, Afghanistan (June 25, 2012) -- The 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, hasn't been in Afghanistan for long, but its female engagement team, or FET, is already busy at work.

In a week's span, the brigade's FET has conducted numerous key leader engagements that have the potential to lead to several projects and workshops in eastern Afghanistan's Paktika Province.The 'Dragon' Brigade's FETs are specially trained, and their work is aimed at the betterment of public health and a population not normally tapped -- Afghan women.

"I'd say that the programs that we are trying to initiate have the potential to spread throughout the province," said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Candance Garcia, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the FET.

"These initiatives are very important to the province," she said. "The women aren't formally recognized in this area, so what the leaders wanted to do is come up with a training program that would be geared toward both males and females."

During their first visit with Paktika's director of public health, the FET was given a tour of the women's wing of the provincial hospital. Throughout the visit, they reached out to the women and children, reinforcing that the director is doing all in his power to promote a good health initiative. In recent months, the hospital was approved to expand from 70 to 200 beds.

In a separate meeting, the team spoke with the workers from the Afghanistan Relief and Rehabilitation Organization, or ARARO, to conduct a gender workshop that will cover business administration training for women in the province.

The FET's assessments suggest the proposals of the director of public health and ARARO can bring significant progress for the female population and showcase the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan's support of women's initiatives.

If both proposed projects are approved, the successes will have the potential to spread to the surrounding provinces, said Garcia.

"Only time will tell how they will go," said Garcia, "but I can say I'm very optimistic about the programs."


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