American Forces Press Service
FORWARD OPERATING BASE JACKSON, Afghanistan, Dec. 29, 2011 – When Kimberly Ryan stepped into the Navy recruiter’s office at age 18, she had no idea what she wanted to do. All she knew was she wanted to get out of Connecticut and broaden her horizon.
Seven years later, after serving overseas in Sasebo, Japan, Ryan now serves as the team leader for Female Engagement Team 8 in the Sangin district of Afghanistan’s Helmand province.
When she stepped up and accepted the team-leader challenge, Ryan thought she would be the equivalent of a female infantryman during her first deployment, but that couldn’t have been further from the truth.
“[The team] is actually completely different,” she noted. “The female engagement team is all about counterinsurgency, and I actually like what it ended up not being.”
Ryan’s day-to-day activities vary depending on the mission and support requirements. The team works in direct support of 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, assigned to Regimental Combat Team 8 in 2nd Marine Division (Forward).
Each week, however, Ryan and her fellow team member, Marine Corps Cpl. Brandy Bates, work together with Afghan National Security Forces to plan and host a children’s meeting for local children in the Sangin district in southwestern Afghanistan.
Ryan said the experience she’s gained over the last three months enables her to interact with Afghan security forces and local residents with confidence.
Ryan’s determined attitude contributes directly to her successes with the engagement team and as a team leader, Bates noted.
“She definitely keeps me informed on everything that is going on,” said Bates, an Ann Arbor, Mich., native. “She definitely takes charge of everything that needs to be taken care of.”
With just a few months left in her deployment, Ryan said she’ll continue her work to make progress with the women in Sangin and to impact as many lives as possible.