A special forces military unit in Norway is receiving attention for a great reason: Norway's Jegertroppen, or "Hunter Troops," are making history as the first all-female special forces unit in the world. The unit was created in 2014 as an "experiment " when the Norwegian army identified a specific need for women special forces units in combat, particularly when it came to engaging with women and children in countries where social norms dictate that women will not speak with male soldiers. After several years in development, the Jegertroppen experiment has been a resounding success.
According to Col. Frode Kristofferson, the commander of Norway's special forces, via NBC News, one of the many benefits of having an all-female special forces unit is that the Norwegian military now has a "tailored [special forces] program and a tailored selection for the female operators." The women train at a place known as Terningmoen Camp, which is about 100 miles north of Oslo. Kristofferson reported that after training in a one-year program at the camp, the "female soldiers are just as capable as their male [special forces] counterparts."
The Norwegian military already considers the Jegertroppen program a huge success and indeed, due to this success and substantial interest, has even raised the entry requirements for women to train to become a member of the Jegertroppen. NBC News reported that in the first year of its existence, the program had an impressive 300 applicants, 10 of whom passed through training. While no members of the Jagertroppen program have been deployed yet, Kristofferson asserts that they are ready and will be used when necessary, saying "We have them available when we need the female soldiers in operations abroad."
For their part, the women soldiers who are a part of the Jegertroppen program seem to be excited and honored to be playing such an important role for both their country and the women's movement. Mari, a 20-year-old member of the Jegertroppen, told NBC News that "If I'm needed, I think that it would be a great opportunity to both serve my country and also to be able to contribute positively in a very masculine environment."
The creation of the Jegertroppen is historic and impressive; however, unfortunately, the development of a similar all-female special forces unit in the U.S. seems to be a long way off. Women soldiers in the U.S. were just recently (in 2015) given the authorization to participate in some combat roles, let alone be involved in special force units. This stands in stark contrast to Norway's military, which allowed women into combat in the 1980s and has now begun female conscription as of last year.
Hopefully, the Jegertroppen will pave the way for many more female special forces units to come.