Face of Defense: Female Advisor Heads to Afghanistan

MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER, TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif., Nov. 22, 2010 — Afghan sol­diers are in for a sur­prise when they meet their new instruc­tor, Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Tri­cia McBride, the first female Marine assigned to advise host-nation forces in Afghanistan.
After being the first woman to grad­u­ate from the Marines’ advi­sor train­ing group pro­gram, McBride, from Wilm­ing­ton, Del., will deploy with a team of six to teach and eval­u­ate Afghan mil­i­tary logis­ti­cian instruc­tors in Kab­ul, Afghanistan.

“It’s a good feel­ing,” McBride said. “To be the first at any­thing is good, but to be the first female — espe­cial­ly in the Marine Corps — is just great.”

But it’s only the begin­ning for McBride and the rest of her team. After the Tal­iban takeover in 1996, Afghan women were not allowed to attend schools or work out­side of their homes, mak­ing pro­fes­sion­al inter­ac­tion with women an uncom­fort­able sit­u­a­tion for some Afghan men.

“The biggest chal­lenge that I’m fac­ing now is the reac­tion to me teach­ing a class,” McBride said, recall­ing the lessons she received on Afghan cul­ture dur­ing her train­ing here. “I have been told they’re not going to take me seri­ous­ly, and they’ll just get up and walk out of the class­room.”

McBride said she and her team­mates gained an under­stand­ing of Afghan lan­guage and cul­ture dur­ing their train­ing.

“Let’s just say I haven’t heard a lot of pos­i­tive things as far as females being instruc­tors, because the [Afghan] men do look at the women dif­fer­ent­ly there,” she said. “I’m going to show them that I’m just like the rest of the guys. I’m going to show them that, although I am a woman and I might do some things a lit­tle dif­fer­ent, we’re all broth­ers and sis­ters.

We are all here to help each oth­er and to learn from each oth­er,” she con­tin­ued, “So, hope­ful­ly, just because I’m a woman, they won’t take that away from me.” McBride also received cours­es on Afghan eti­quette and com­mon chal­lenges that advi­sors face, said Capt. Ben Law­less, a sup­ply offi­cer, instruc­tor and asses­sor with the advi­sor train­ing group.

“I think they have done very well,” Law­less said of his stu­dents. “They have shown a thor­ough under­stand­ing of how to use an inter­preter while exe­cut­ing a class to a host-nation force.”

McBride, he said, is a pro­fes­sion­al who can sur­mount any chal­lenge she encoun­ters.

“She’ll be able to han­dle it,” Law­less said.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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