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In 2010, the Army created Cultural Support Teams, a secret pilot program to insert women alongside Special Operations soldiers battling in Afghanistan. The Army reasoned that women could play a unique role on Special Ops teams: accompanying their male colleagues on raids and, while those soldiers were searching for insurgents, questioning the mothers, sisters, daughters and wives living at the compound. Their presence had a calming effect on enemy households, but more importantly, the CSTs were able to search adult women for weapons and gather crucial intelligence. They could build relationships - woman to woman - in ways that male soldiers in an Islamic country never could.In Ashley's War, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon uses on-the-ground reporting and a finely tuned understanding of the complexities of war to tell the story of CST-2, a unit of women hand-picked from the Army to serve in this highly specialized and challenging role.



About the Author

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon is a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of The New York Times best sellers Ashley's War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield and The Dressmaker of Khair Khana. She is also a contributor to Atlantic Media's Defense One site. In 2004 she left ABC News to earn her MBA at Harvard, where she began writing about women entrepreneurs in conflict and postconflict zones, including Afghanistan and Rwanda. Following MBA study she served as a vice president at the investment firm PIMCO. She has written for Newsweek, the Financial Times, and the International Herald Tribune, as well as for the World Bank and Harvard Business School. She gave a TED Talk on Ashley's War and its all women's Special Ops team this past May, following on her 2011 TED Talk on the importance of investing in global entrepreneurs. A Fulbright scholar and Robert Bosch fellow, Gayle speaks Spanish, German, French and is conversant in Farsi.



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