Meet the Hunter Troop: Norway's tough-as-nails female soldiers - BBC News

Women are sure to be inspired by the all girl troop known as the Hunter Troop, the worlds first all-female special forces training program in Norway. Girls are subjected to rigorous training that includes marching for miles carrying gear that weighs as much as they do, killing animals for food during survival training and practicing jumping out of planes to get behind enemy lines. This troop is the toughest the army can offer women, with everything from close-combat fighting and offensive driving it forces the women to push themselves as far as they can.

The Jegertroppen, as it is known in Norwegian, was a program set up in 2014. Military commanders there say that the war in Afghanistan proved that there was operational need that existed for highly-trained women soldiers who could get in and gather intelligence and interact with women and children during the deployments in conservative societies. What began was a kind of experimental program that is now seen as a major success. With more than 300 women who applied in the first year, and about a dozen recruits who are now passing the grueling training annually, providing a pipeline of elite women soldiers that can be deployed at home or abroad. One example of the training that the women have to do includes practicing fighting their way out of an urban ambush. They work together in teams of two, taking cover behind burned-out tanks while providing suppressive fire with their H&K MP7 sub-machine guns and then throwing smoke grenades so the female team can get out safely. Every time the women hit one of the metal targets in the snow-covered expanse ahead, they clear the ding rings out, to the approval of the Captain Ole Vidar Krogsaeter, who oversees the women's training.

In between the rounds, the women, who are all aged between 19 and 27, rest, sing and joke around. Three women are sprawled out on an equipment box, enjoying a brief moment of downtime. Later the women light a fire and get a barbecue going. Back in about the mid-1980s, Norway became one of the first countries in Nato that allowed women to be able to serve in all combat roles, although the numbers remained low. Women were only allowed to apply for the special forces, but none of the women had got in. The United States and Britain, in comparison, have only just recently begun to lift restrictions on women officially enlisting in combat units.

Some of the requirements to complete the course include a nine-mile speed march in full gear, with a 48-pound backpack, and weapon, boots through forests within two hours and 15 minutes. Along with six pull-ups, 50 sit ups in, two minutes, 40 push-ups, about 1.86 miles in a maximum time of 13 minutes, and 1/4 mile swim with the first 82 feet underwater in a maximum time of 11 minutes. Most of the members of the Jegertroppen troop were elite high school athletes, but they also bring other strengths to the table apart from their physical capabilities. Women think outside the box and may be more capable of seeing other solutions, possibly better solutions in some instances. And while the program is a good step towards gender equality, there is still a long way to go with just 11 percent of personnel being women, which reflects halting progress in recruiting and retaining females. This is just one of the trending news and trending videos you will find on the BBC site. Other stories you will find include world news, business, tech, trending news, celebrity news online, trending videos and more. **

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