Three years since the creation of Norway’s ‘Jegertroppen or “Hunter Troops” — the world’s first all-female military special forces unit — Norwegian military officials have hailed the experiment as a resounding success.
Initially created in 2014, the Jegertroppen were envisioned as a means of filling a growing need for female special operations soldiers — particularly in countries such as Afghanistan, where male soldiers are forbidden from speaking to local women. Not being able to speak or deal with women, explained Colonel Frode Kristofferson, commander of Norway’s special forces, had hurt the military’s ability to gather intelligence and build community relations. But by the end of the one-year program, he added, the women soldiers were just as capable as the men.
“We’re carrying the same weight in backpack as the boys,” said 22-year-old Tonje, one of the unit’s members. “We do the same tasks. I’m the smallest, so I carry as much weight as I myself weigh.”
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Captain Ole Vidar, a training officer, said that one of female soldiers under his tutelage had managed to best male members of an elite platoon during a recent shooting exercise. The female soldiers, he added, had quickly learned how to gel — and excel — as a unit.
“The boys see that the girls help each other, so the boys are doing better on that as well,” he explained.
Barely more than a year ago, the U.S. military finally opened combat roles to women. Norway first opened combat roles to women in the 1980s — last year, they became the first NATO country to introduce female conscription.
Read the full story at NBC News.