The U.S. military last week lost its first female member of a new elite group charged with establishing better relations with Afghan women.
Army 1st Lieutenant Ashley White was killed along with two other soldiers in southern Afghanistan by a roadside bomb while serving in a Cultural Support Team. White was one of just a few women soldiers selected to serve with Special Operations units that have carried out counterinsurgency efforts against the Taliban.
American commanders decided to add women to Special Ops teams in order to carry out functions that men cannot with Muslim women without provoking resentment, such as patting them down or even talking to them without an Afghan male present.
The first group of 28 women deployed in January to Afghanistan with Army Rangers and Special Forces teams, after they had completed a six-week training program at Fort Bragg.
White, who was raised in Alliance, Ohio, is survived by her husband, Capt. Jason Stumpf; her parents, Robert and Deborah White; a brother, Josh; and a twin sister, Brittney.