Meet the Hunter Troop: Norway’s tough-as-nails female soldiers

She’s marched for miles carrying gear that weighs as much as she does, killed animals for food during survival training and practised jumping out of planes to get behind enemy lines.

But Jannike, a pony-tailed 19-year-old from northern Norway, will only concede that she’s “pretty tough”.

She is part of the Hunter Troop, the world’s first all-female special forces training programme.

“I wanted to do something bigger, the toughest the army could offer me,” Jannike says. “I wanted to [see] how far I could push myself.”

After six months, despite some “really low moments”, she is determined to get through the course.

Next up on the training schedule is close-combat fighting and offensive driving.

The Jegertroppen, as it is known in Norwegian, was set up in 2014. Military commanders here say that the war in Afghanistan proved an “operational need” existed for highly-trained female soldiers who could gather intelligence and interact with women and children during deployments in conservative societies.

What began as a kind of experimental programme is now seen as a major success. More than 300 women applied in the first year, and about a dozen recruits are now passing the gruelling training annually, providing a pipeline of elite women soldiers that can be deployed at home or abroad.

The hardest part so far has been “hell week”, says Jannike, a test of mental and physical strength involving long marches over several days with little time for rest, and minimum amounts of food and water.

“They just see if you can handle the pressure when you’re down,” she says.

The young women are today practising fighting their way out of an urban ambush. They work in teams of two: taking cover behind burned-out tanks, providing suppressive fire with their H&K MP7 sub-machine guns and throwing smoke grenades so the team can get out safely.

Every time they hit one of the metal targets in the snow-covered expanse ahead, a clear “ding” rings out, to the approval of Captain Ole Vidar Krogsaeter, who oversees their training.

“To prepare them we try to give them the best training possible, as realistic as possible,” the veteran special forces operator says. “We have them go through the exercises so many times that they are comfortable with it.”

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Source By http://www.bbc.com

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