An entire special operations combat unit composed of women? It exists, and they’ve been operating since 2014 as part of Norway’s top spec ops unit the Forsvarets Spesialkommando, or FSK.
According to this story on taskandpurpose.com, the FSK faced a dillema while fighting alongside Delta Force and Navy SEALs in predominantly Muslim countries: they had trouble dealing with local women.
“In Afghanistan, one of our biggest challenges was that we would enter houses and not be able to speak to the women,” said Capt. Ole Vidar Krogsaeter, an officer with the Norwegian Special Operations Forces in the story. “In urban warfare, you have to be able to interact with women as well. Adding female soldiers was an operational need.”
So, Norway created the Jegertroppen, which translates as “Hunter Troop,” the world’s first and only all-female spec-ops unit, the story says.
Since its formation, the Jegertroppen has earned a reputation for its rigorous instruction and low acceptance rates, much like its American spec-ops counterparts.
“Its yearlong training program includes a series of grueling challenges, and candidates must complete modules in Arctic survival, counterterrorism, urban warfare, long-range patrols, and airborne operations. According to the Norwegian Special Operations Forces Command, only 13 of the unit’s 317 candidates made it through the Jegertroppen course in 2014 — a 96% attrition rate that is similar to the Forsvarets Spesialkommando’s. 2015 posted similar numbers.”
Col. Frode Kristoffersen, head of Norway’s Special Forces, said in the story that the Jegertroppen will have “a huge impact on Norway’s military capabilities. For one, the Jegertroppen’s presence on the ground could open up critical interactions and information channels with indigenous female populations in future conflicts, especially in the Middle East.”
Kristoffersen also said in the story that the unit’s members have displayed “superior shooting and observation skills.”
The story says Norway’s armed forces are becoming increasingly diverse, with women comprising 10 percent and growing, up from just 0.7 percent in 2002. It’s estimated that the country’s armed forces will be 20 percent female by 2020, though that doesn’t include any mixed gender combat units.
In December of 2015, it was announced that all U.S. military combat positions would be opened up to women, according to this story on CNN.
The decision opened about 220,000 jobs to women that were previously limited to men only, including infantry, armor, reconnaissance, and some special operations units.
“This means that as long as the qualify and meet the standards, women will now be able to contribute to our mission in ways they could not before. They’ll be able to drive tanks, give orders, lead infantry soldiers into combat,” said Defense Secretary Ash Carter.
Since the announcement, the American military has seen women ascend to positions in its highest ranks: Air Force General Lori Robinson became the country’s first female combatant commander, and Admiral Michelle Howard became the first female four-star admiral.
In April, West Point graduate and Army Captain Kris Griest became the first female infantry officer; 22 other young women have been commissioned as infantry and armor officers following their graduations from West Point, officer candidate, and Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. programs, according to this story from The Atlantic.
Those women still must complete officer-leader courses before they take command of any troops, but once they do, they will be in line to become platoon leaders in battalions that have seen a great deal of combat, the story says.