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Norway’s Future Jegertroppen: World’s First Female Special Forces Unit

Soldiers train to become part of the world's first all-female special forces unit, the Jegertroppen or "hunter troops".

Soldiers march on the snow-covered hillside at the Terningmoen Camp in Elverum, Norway on March 23, 2017.

Soldiers demonstrate their skills and tactics during a contract drill as they train to become part of the world's first all-female special forces unit, the Jegertroppen or "hunter troops".

Carolina Reid / for NBC News

A military jeep arrives with a back-up team of female soldiers.

Norway has moved fast to break down military gender barriers. Its parliament introduced legislation in the 1980s that opened up all military roles to women. Last year, Norway became the first NATO country to introduce female conscription.

But the introduction of the all-female special forces unit in 2014 raised the profile of women in the Norwegian military the most.

Carolina Reid / for NBC News

A backup soldier in the jeep prepares to take action.

The unit was started after Norway’s Armed Forces' Special Command saw an increased need for female special operations soldiers — particularly in places like Afghanistan where male troops were forbidden from communicating with women. The exclusion of half the population was having a detrimental impact on intelligence gathering and building community relations.

Carolina Reid / for NBC News

A simulated explosion at the Terningmoen Camp.

Col. Frode Kristofferson, the commander of Norway's special forces, said "We needed female soldiers to take care of the women and children in the buildings that we searched," adding that at the end of the one-year program the female soldiers are just as capable as their male counterparts. 

Carolina Reid / for NBC News

A female soldier reloads with new bullets.

 

Carolina Reid / for NBC News

A soldier, fully equipped and ready to take action.

Carolina Reid / NBC News

Soldiers take cover from their enemy behind a concrete house.

Carolina Reid / for NBC News

A soldier fires at aggressors.

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A soldier rests during a break from the exercise.

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A soldier helps another with her ear protection.

Capt. Ole Vidar, the officer leading the training program, said that the female unit has shown a stronger sense of solidarity among its members than the men in the elite platoon.

Carolina Reid / Carolina Reid

Soldiers reload their weapons.

Carolina Reid / For NBC News

A soldier jumps over a fence during a second round of training exercises.

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A soldier prepares to fight the enemy.

Carolina Reid / For NBC News

Soldiers fire their weapons.

The female soldiers are highly skilled at shooting and in a recent exercise, one of them shot better than some of the men.

Carolina Reid / Carolina Reid

A soldier in the woodlands of the Terningmoen Camp at the end of the training.

More than a year after the U.S. Department of Defense repealed a longtime ban on women serving in ground combat assignments, relatively few have been trained or assigned to these jobs in the U.S. military.

Carolina Reid / for NBC News