Meet the Female Members of the Afghan Military's Elite Special Forces

Yuri Kozyrev / NOOR for TIME

During a training exercise, a female special-forces member prepares to search a person posing as a civilian in a blue burqa.

It is probably safe to say that Yabenda is one of the few elite soldiers in the world who wears a rhinestone glued to her lateral incisor. On a cloudless May morning at the Kabul Military Training Center, a vast complex at the point where the dusty Afghan capital fades into a scrabbly mountain, the 21-year-old rests a pink fingernail on the trigger of her M-4 and considers her first few months in the Afghan military's special forces. "It's a hard job," admits Yabenda, who like her other colleagues has asked to be identified only by her last name....

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!