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AFGHANISTAN: Female Marines provide 'access to half the population'

March 12, 2009 |  8:00 pm

Women1

Marines in Afghanistan are now using a strategy deemed successful in Iraq: an all-female unit to inter-act with women and children.

The 3rd Battalion, 8th Regiment has begun to use the unit as it deploys into villages in hopes of winning hearts and minds. Cultural taboos would largely keep male Marines from speaking to Afghan women and girls.

The female Marines give the U.S. "access to half the population that we normally do not have access to," said Capt. Mike Hoffman, a company commander with Three-Eight.

On their first mission, the women wore head scarves as a sign of cultural respect, Marines said.

"If the women know we are here to help them, they will likely pass that on to their children," said 2nd Lt. Johanna Shaffer, the team leader.

— Tony Perry in San Diego

Photo: Marine 2nd Lt. Johanna Shaffer with an Afghan girl. Credit: Marine Corps

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