An Up-Close Look at Norway’s All Female Elite Special Forces Unit

The silhouette of a female soldier.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

It’s called “The Hunter Troop” or “The Jegertroppen” as it’s known in Norwegian. It was established in 2014 and is the world’s first all female special forces unit.

The women who serve in this unit march for miles carrying gear that weighs more than they do. During survival training, they are subjected to extreme weather conditions and are forced to hunt wild animals for food. They are also experienced paratroopers and harbor the ability to sneak behind enemy lines without being detected.

It’s not an easy job to do, which is why only 11 women were chosen this year out of more than 220 applicants.

19-year-old Jannike was one of the few that were chosen. She said that the highly selective process is part of what drew her to the position.

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

Norwegian military commanders claim that the war in Afghanistan is what demonstrated a real need for this unit. In conservative regions like the Middle East, highly skilled female soldiers can be used to gather intelligence by interacting with women and children.

But make no mistake about it, just because they’re women doesn’t mean their training is any easier than the men’s.

“To prepare them we try to give them the best training possible, as realistic as possible,” said Captain Ole Vidar Krogsaeter, a veteran special forces operator that oversees the program. “We have them go through the exercises so many times that they are comfortable with it.”

And even though the program has been successful so far, the likelihood of a similar program being implemented in the U.S. is pretty low. That’s because attitudes surrounding women in the military aren’t quite as progressive as they are in Norway. For example, a 2014 Rand Institute survey found that 85% of men in the U.S Special Operations command were against allowing women to do specialized jobs, with 71% being against women joining their units all together.

The U.S., it appears, has a long way to go before an all female special forces unit will even be considered.

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