Category: World / December 10, 2012 3:53 PM EST
Women are playing a crucial role in Afghan Special Forces as the country is preparing for the 2014 coalition pullout.
The Afghan armed forces have recruited in great numbers, but few women are convinced to join. While the world wonders if the country's forces are ready to take over from coalition forces, the nation pins its hope on the special forces, and the women in their ranks.
In the Afghan Special Forces, men and women are training side by side. The female soldiers have played a crucial role: When their teammates raid homes in the middle of the night looking for Taliban insurgents, female soldiers swiftly separate the women and children, search and interrogate them.
"Before us, the American female soldiers used to search women and that was creating problems, they didn't understand them and the Afghan civilians were not comfortable. Now that we are doing the searching ourselves, there are fewer incidents," said Sara, a female soldier in Afghan Special Forces.
Sara is among a dozen female soldiers who joined the Special Forces less than a year ago, to conduct raids around the country.
In preparation for the pullout of coalition forces, Afghan authorities have recruited heavily to build a security force of 352,000 soldiers and police. But as the 2014 deadline draws near, Afghan forces are increasingly criticized for their lack of discipline, high rate of desertions, and poor vetting, which has led to internal attacks.
But Special Forces are praised for their achievements. On December 4, they killed the shadow Taliban governor of Parwan Province on a night operation. Though the commander of Afghan Special Forces would not like to talk about the operation too much, he is adamant that the female soldiers are the key to their success.
"I am very proud of them. They have solved a big problem for us, which was how to process women during our raids," said Kernal Jalaluddin, commander of the Afghan Special Forces.
These soldiers are the only women fighting in the military, and their only concern is getting the job done.
"They need female doctors and female teachers, and it is the same for the police and the army. That is why my family supported me when I decided to serve my country. When we put on our gear, we stop fearing. We know there may be death and injuries, but we are not afraid, because we are part of the troops," said Sara.