From the NYT …
As envisioned, the teams will work like American politicians who campaign door to door and learn what voters care about. A team is to arrive in a village, get permission from the male elder to speak with the women, settle into a compound, hand out school supplies and medicine, drink tea, make conversation and, ideally, get information about the village, local grievances and the Taliban.
On patrols, the women will carry M-4 rifles, which are shorter and more maneuverable than the military’s standard M-16s, but once inside an Afghan compound, and with Marine guards posted outside, they have been instructed, assuming they feel safe, to remove their rifles and take off their intimidating “battle rattle” of helmets and body armor.
In my opinion the article implies that these woman are being treated less-equal than the male Marines when behind the wire, but isn’t it standard operating procedure to remove armor and helmet?
UPDATE: As some commenters realized, I misinterpreted “Afghan compound” to mean inside their base of operations, not inside a native compound.
[ Many thanks to Mik for emailing me the link. ]