In other words, the 32 prospective graduates are beautiful but deadly, having trained to be the first women in the Vietnamese special police force.
Aged 20 to 23, the women are fluent in martial arts, how to use different guns, including sharp-shooters, and other skills testing whether they can measure up to their male counterparts.
“During training, we have to cover the same tasks as our male colleagues,” said Mai Thu Trang, 21, from northern Son La Province. “We get up at five in the morning and start training at 7 a.m. The only difference is, the schedule for women is 1.5 times as long as that for men, though we share the same volume of work in the end.”
The women are in Ranger Battalion No.1 of the Mobile Police High Command under the Ministry of Public Security. The ministry is charged with criminal and special investigations, riot control, rescue, fugitive arrests, and paramilitary duties.
Their training includes group runs, an obstacle course, and testing in combat, water, and land survival.
For some of the women, rope climbing has proved the strangest challenge. They practiced descending from a five-story building with a rope and gloves.
It took a few days to get used to the braking, turning, and climbing upside-down.
“I felt dizzy and my face felt heavy as blood rushed to my head while I climbed upside-down,” said Doan Thi Linh, 20.
But not all the training is physical.
“Once, seeing my friend in pain from bruises and swelling, I could not hold my tears,” said 21-year-old Le Giang from northern Thai Binh Province. “But I try not to complain nor cry, or else others will worry about me,”
A girl prepares for descending to the ground from the top of a building with rope and gloves (Photo: Tuoi Tre)
A specialty within the special forces
Among the women, Thu Trang is one of 17 officers-in-training who specialize in Qi Gong, a form of martial arts combining both internal and external power.
For instance, Trang said she can lie on a mat of broken glass, as well as support an 80-kilogram block of concrete with her legs as others hammer it to pieces.
“After a lot of time training, now I can do it anytime needed,” she said.
She can also break bricks and concrete blocks by hand, and knows how to use breathing to limit injury. Like the other team members, she must practice meditation 30 to 60 minutes a day.
A woman’s touch
Aside from demolitions and airborne refresher training, the women learn tactical advantages for ambush and reconnaissance patrols, such as swimming underwater undetected.
Much of the training, however, involves not what they can do, but what they can withstand – from adverse weather to rugged terrain to hunger and sleep deprivation.
“Generally, women are less physical than men,” trainer Nguyen Khac Truong Son said, “but superior in endurance and patience.”
Bricks are laid on the hand of a girl for others to hammer it into pieces (Photo: Tuoi Tre)