The video, posted by FutureBattles.com, is a documentary on Beijing’s Special Combat Brigade by the History channel – a rare, exclusive look at the inner working of China’s Special Forces. The documentary includes interviews with members of the Special Combat Brigade.
The Special Combat Brigade undergoes months of rigorous training, training on land, sea and air. But before soldiers can become part of this elite unit, they must first become servicemen in the People’s Liberation Army.
In Shandong Province, men selected for the Special Combat Brigade are shown leaving their homes and families, the youngest being an 18-year-old boy whose family sends him off in tears. A military base in Beijing will serve as the base for these soldiers in the next three months.
The Chinese Army is divided into seven geographical zones. Protecting the capital, Beijing, is one of the Special Combat Brigade’s missions. Only the best are selected. Formed in the early nineties, they are responsible for some of the most dangerous and selective tasks. Their badge represents their code name: Whistling Arrow. Throughout history, ancient Chinese armies used arrows that made a whistling sound to send secret messages in battle, which became a symbol for reconnaissance troops. Members of this troop also go behind enemy lines to gather intelligence, take out high-value targets, perform hostage rescues, and counter-terrorism missions.
The three months of basic training are shown, starting with military exercises and drills early in the morning until well into the night. Discipline is instilled, and obedience to orders required. The soldiers are required to complete physical tests, infantry training, teamwork, strength and endurance, logic and intelligence, navigation and weapons handling.
One of the roles of the brigade is to tackle terrorism, the first time the exercises are shown on camera. An anti-terrorism scenario takes place in an actual building, simulating real situations.
Back at boot camp, recruits are guided through firing drills. Their instructors are beside them to correct and guide the soldiers. The standard issue rifle for the Chinese Army is the QBZ 95. The QSZ 92 is the standard issue handgun.
In inner Mongolia, a firing exercise takes place to test marksmanship, where trainees shoot at moving vehicles. Next, it’s up to the driver to get off the battlefield as soon as possible, with obstacles set up to test his skills. Parachuting and diving drills come next, with trainees jumping from planes and helicopters after one month of ground training to prepare them.
The next challenges for the soldiers are underwater exercises, where they face heat, humidity and dehydration. Medics use an ancient technique used in martial arts to cool the body and improve circulation.
Veteran recruits outside the camp are shown completing a 45-kilometer trek, using just their wits and the most basic equipment to navigate their way to checkpoints, while carrying heavy packs across the desert. Soldiers also practice rowing out to sea, boarding vessels and shooting from ships. They also complete a blind jump, where the soldiers are flown to a place where they have no information on the location, so they have no idea where they will land.
After graduation, the soldiers who pass get assigned to special units. One of them is the Special Combat Sniper Team, a small group of men trained to deliver a deadly shot in any type of environment. Snipers work in pairs. The QBU 10 is the sniper weapon of choice, loaded with highly advanced accessories like a thermal-imaging scope.
More than 500 recruits have successfully completed this training. The last challenge is a final physical test consisting of a series of tasks that soldiers must finish if they want to make it. Soldiers will go on to more advanced training and will serve in the Special Combat Brigade.