The First Vietnam’s Female SWAT Platoon: 32 Roses Made of Steel or ‘Bông Hoa Thép’

They are only 20-23 years old, beautiful, good at martial arts, proficiency in using a variety of guns. That is the portrait of the first 32 female policewomen of the task force of Vietnam, which are being trained in the task force battalion No. 1 of the High Command of Mobile Police in Hanoi.

“Here, girls are trained like boys. We have to wake up at 5am and go to the drill ground at 7am, run 4km on the morning and in the afternoon. Every morning we run from 800 – 1,000 m around the yard. It is the warm-up exercise for a day of members of the task force. The only difference with boys is our course extended by a half,” said Mai Thu Trang, 21, from Son La province.

32 roses

female policewomen, task force, training, martial art, police, techniques

This morning, the 32 “roses” practiced the robe-climbing technique at a five-story building of about 30 meters. In turn, each member in the squad 1 wore the safety strap, gloves and went to the roof to do their exercise.

“Closing your legs”, “opening your armpits”, “two arms must be perpendicular, “how is your left hand?”, “where is your hip muscles?”... The male coach (a male trainee of the previous course) sat on the ground to give instruction to girls.

The most difficult thing in this exercise is the upside-down climbing technique with the head going first. The policewomen of the task force had to spend three days to get used to the use of the safety strap, the lock, and how to brake, to turn on a height of nearly 30 meters and tilt their head, release their body with the cord and then gently slide to the floor.

Just cry out of training hours

“The 32 girls of the platoon of police task force were selected two years ago at the Armed Police School. They are the real task-force police officers so they have to master all the techniques and skills like men. They have to undergo all training exercises like men. They usually just cry outside the training hours. Following the nine month training course, depending on the skills of each person, they will be assigned to the appropriate team,” said Lieutenant Colonel Nguyen Anh Tuan, the chief of the police task-force battalion No. 1.

On the fifth floor of the building, trainers both held the robe and help trainees to wear the safety strap. Not to be so strict as for the male participants, coach Nguyen Khac Truong Son appeared to be gentle when he prompted movement for young girls.

“32 girls like flowers and jewels like this, so who could shout at them!” Son smiled and said when we asked him about the difficult and risky training for the girls.

“The first time I tilted my head upside-down I felt so dizzy, blood poured to my face. Look at Hanh!” said Doan Thi Linh, 20, from Quang Ninh province while pointing toward the girl who was hanging at the other end on the robe.

Hanh’s ears and face were all reddish. The robe-climbing technique requires not only courage but also exact movements. If one does not comply with the technics, her face will be rubbed into the wall. Just a small error in wearing a safety strap or keychain, hand brake… accidents can happen.

“Once seeing my friends in the rope-climbing team practiced hurt, I could not stop crying,” said Le Giang, 21 from Thai Binh province, a member of the qigong team.

Quick and clever

“Women cannot be men but these 32 roses, after five months of training, have become cactus flowers,” said trainer Vu Van Hung.

“Women have limited power so the training time for the girls is usually longer than men,” coach Truong Son said. However, women have the advantage of being persistent. Once they have grasped the techniques, they practice the technique very fast and more skillful than men. “

We have learned climbing wall, climbing robe, pushing pole, martial arts, qigong, shooting … All of them are attractive,” said Phuong Dung, 22, from Thai Nguyen province, who holds the gold belt in Shaolin martial art.

She smiled fresh and talked about her shooting exercises (pistols, long guns, sniper rifles) at night, shooting in a variety of positions, situations … “The first time at the firing ground, hearing gunshots I was a little afraid. Some girls in my team cried. Now many of us have become good gunners,” Dung said.

This girl is one of the brightest faces of the martial art group. Dung said: “In practice, we are the fighters and our coaches are the victims. They asked us to beat them with all strength and all the ability, but I’m afraid that they will be hurt,” Dung said.

The martial art ground for girls is the concrete ground, not the carpet. If they fall, they will fall straight down to the concrete floor. It is very normal to get wounded here.

“At first we had a lot of wounds on our body. We called home to tell our family but then wounds have become so normal,” Dung said.

Thuy Linh added: “After learning martial art, all of us have black skin. In three months practicing martial art, we spent eight hour every day in the outdoor practicing ground, not including extracurricular martial art exercises. We applied sunscreen cream. We are girls anyway… “

Breaking concrete by foot

Thu Trang is one of the rare female faces of the qigong team of 17 members. Looking at this pretty girl, nobody can think that this girl dares to lie down on hundreds of pieces of glass with a piece of concrete of nearly 80kg on top of the legs for her teammate to use sledgehammers to break the concrete!

Trang said confidently: “After the first few days of practice, I was so tired, I had nightmares. I got abraded skin, sore, but now I can perform this technique anytime.”

She excitingly talked about the exercises to break bricks by hand, on hand; breaking concrete by foot, the way to avoid injury… To do these things, which are only seen in the movies, Trang and her teammates have to practice meditation three times a day (morning, afternoon, evening) for 30-60 minutes each. They must persist through the day with the qigong techniques and familiarize themself with the ability to withstand the weight of the body by placing the concrete blocks weighing 20-80kg on the hands and feet.

“At that time I had to retreat, focused thinking on the arm and the legs to make them stiff, then flexed the belly muscle,” Trang said very softly.

Major Tran Bao Chien, deputy chief of the police task force battalion No. 1, said: “It seems to be very easy when they break concrete by hand and foot, or let’s others break the concrete block on their body but they have to practice really hard, with determination and courage to make it easy.”

Not only learn how to climb rope, tactics, shooting, martial arts, the future task-force policewomen had to learn pool a secret right on the river.

“We do not wear a bikini, but men’s pants,” Thu Trang laughed. “We just learn to swim in the winter, when it was rain and windy. We were suffocated by the cold. Many of us turned purple and could not speak. We all drank some water in the early days and got some wounds in our legs.”

Everyone has hidden talents

“At first I felt a lot of pressure and confusion. I thought: how to live up to the” first female police task force of Vietnam?” After a period of training, I think I can do more and I’m more confident,” Le Giang said.

She said people should not think that they are task-force policewomen so they are rigid. Some of them write in the diary every day. They have hidden talents: singing, dancing beautifully, knitting wool, making paper flowers…

“We are about to go into the jungle to practice other tactics for a half of month,” Thu Trang (leader of squad 2) said. She is only 21.

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