Norwegian special operations have expanded a bit by adding a dozen female operators. This group, called the Jegertroppen (Hunter Troop), was created to serve in situations where women are more effective. The need for a female unit came out of recent Norwegian experience in Afghanistan. As in many Moslem countries male soldiers having anything to do with Moslem women is considered very bad manners. Some foreign forces adapted. The United States quickly trained female soldiers and marines to accompany raids and such to deal with searching or questioning women. This worked but the Norwegians often use their special operations troops for long range patrols and intelligence gathering operations. In some cases having some women along would be useful, but the female operators had to be as capable as the men.
So it was decided to see if some women could be recruited and trained for the jobs. There were 317 women who applied for the special operations course. Only 28 percent made it past the screening test and only 15 percent of these completed the yearlong training. Those percentages are about the same for male candidates. The only accommodation for the women was a 32 percent lighter basic combat load. Otherwise the women had to deal with the same stresses and learn the same combat, tracking, intelligence and other skills as the men.
Female commandos and intelligence field operatives (Jane Bond types) are not unknown, but their existence is generally played down and their identities kept secret. The reason for this is that these highly trained women are few in number and used for situations where a women is not expected and will make a big difference. Nearly all the major special operations organizations of the 20th century have had some female operators. What was unusual about Norway was that they issued a press release, no information on the women themselves.
Norway only has a population of five million but still has built, since World War II, a highly regarded commando (special operations) force of about 500 personnel. This includes army and navy forces. Norwegian ground forces only have 9,000 active duty troops and the entire armed forces only 24,000.