By NBC News producer Stephanie Himango
She is a mother and a wife.
She is also a soldier who recently arrived in Afghanistan as part of a year-long deployment of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division.
Captain Jodi Marti is commander of E Company, 334th Brigade Support Battalion of the Iowa National Guard.
As a female company commander attached to an infantry battalion, Marti is in a unique position. The role of her company involves supporting the infantry in maintenance, distribution and logistics issues, but it can also serve in another unique way.
Some of the soldiers in her company are females who have been trained and organized into Female Engagement Teams, or FET. The aim of FET teams is to engage the women of Afghanistan in what is both a humanitarian and counterinsurgency (COIN) mission.
Cultural consultant Frishta Suha explains why FET teams are needed: "Afghan females are not free to engage with other males that aren't related to them," she said. So that means the female soldiers' male counterparts are not allowed to communicate with Afghan women.
Still relatively new, FET teams have been used in both Iraq and Afghanistan by other branches of the military, and now National Guard teams are being trained.
Related images: All-female U.S. Marine team in Afghanistan
"In the last eight or nine years we've been missing out on pretty much 50 percent of the population," Marti explained, referring to the women of Afghanistan.
"I think they have their pulse on the village. They know who is there. They know who is new," she said. "They know what the village needs. If there are people sick, they know that."
It's a human connection and community awareness that Marti views as tangible and relatable.
"I don't think it's any different than here in America where women get together and they talk about their families, and they talk about their community and how they would like to better those things," she said.
While the FET teams are not on patrol with infantry battalions at all times, they are ready.
"All they need to do is contact me and I'll push one of my female engagement teams out to them," Marti said. And the importance of the FET role is not viewed lightly. "Female engagement teams are imperative to the COIN mission," said Marti.
"We can talk to everybody in Afghanistan," she explained, including male soldiers, the Afghan National Army, the Afghan National Police, male elders, children and finally Afghan females.
"I'm very honored to serve my country, but I'm also honored to be able to help and serve the people of Afghanistan."