Chinese special operations cadets trained in Venezuela

China Military Online
Yang Tao
2020-05-07 17:56:47
By Wang Da and Wang Yukai
Zhao Guohua (first person from left) is trying out weapons on arrival in the international course of special operations forces. /Photo by Zhao Guohua

At the Escuela de Operaciones Especiales General de División Andrés Rojas, a school of special operations in Venezuela which is popularly nicknamed as the hunter school in China, the ruthless subject titled "breaking through enemy interdiction barrage", along with many others, constitute the "hell-like trip" for Zhao Guohua, a staff officer from a special operations brigade of the PLA's 76th Group Army.

The PLA first assigned special troops to the hunter school in 1999 and Zhao Guohua was among the latest Chinese special troops graduating from the Curso Intrenacionl de Fueraza Especiales (course for international special operations forces) there. He survived serial hell-like training on diving, sniping, helicopter landing, etc., and went through all the tests with the third-highest score among all the participants, for which he was granted the commando badge, a sign of the highest honor.

Knockout begins before the course kicks off.

The opportunity of training at the hunter school is greatly valued by members of the special operations forces (SOF) all over the world. The newly promoted company commander Zhao Guohua is no exception. After rounds of selection and Spanish training, he, along with seven other members, finally came to their dreamland.

Located in the middle-east Venezuela, the training range is built on a mountain top at the elevation of 1,000m, surrounded by mountains and facing the Caribbean Sea in the north. Zhao Guohua and his peers had their hair cut and lived in the tin shacks of extremely poor conditions. During the daytime, it was more than 30℃ outdoors and up to 50℃ indoors, but at night it was only about 10℃. The school was infested with mosquitoes, insects, and snakes.

But the poor living conditions were nothing compared to the unique training mode at the school, of which there was no training program, no plan, nor any notice for preparation.

Before the training officially began, one day during the morning jogging, the trainees were ordered to jump into the cold water inside the deep mountain after running for more than ten kilometers. "This is really nightmare. I want to quit..." Zhao heard two foreign soldiers with knee injuries talking in the water. As soon as they got back, several soldiers went to the square and tolled the bell. Toll the bell, lower their national flag, and write a statement of voluntary withdrawal - that's the quitting process at the school.

The rest 70 soldiers were asked to sign a waiver declaration with the school, which was written in Spanish and included numerous and complex articles, with some words difficult for Zhao to comprehend. Zhao understood the document was likely to have something about possible casualties during the training, to which the school is not liable. But he signed it with great calm. At that time, he might have not realized that the cruel training in the few months to come would leave an indelible impression on his mind.

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