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....

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