In December 2018 and May 2019，I was honored to have the opportunity to go to the Republic of Uzbekistan twice, to coach the to-be-commissioned special operation team members of the Uzbek National Guard, which have thereafter became the unforgettable memories for all my life.
On the afternoon of December 22 last year, the CZ6027 flight of China Southern Airlines carrying the coaching staff including me slowly landed in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan. Accompanied by the military attaché of the Chinese Embassy in Uzbekistan, we drove to the base of special operations brigade under the Uzbek National Guard.
Along the way, the Chirciq River glowed in the setting sun, and the blue domes of the mosques were dazzling. The beautiful country along the ancient Silk Road has unreservedly showed us its charm and enthusiasm.
However, my heart felt perturbed and the feeling increased stronger and stronger, as we approached the destination nearer and nearer. Can I fulfill the coaching task, as a young non-commissioned petty officer, only 22 years old?
"I heard that all trainees of the Uzbek side have acquired certain basics in sports, and some of them have participated in international sports events on behalf of Uzbekistan," said Yao Yanan, one of my fellow officers, who was also ridden with upset and embarrassment, just like me.
Sure enough, we felt a special kind of pressure just when getting off the coach. The Uzbek trainees were all burly in stalwart figure, while in contrast, we were much petite.
Seeing us, some of the Uzbek cadets whispered to each other, with suspicion in their eyes. This made me fluster instantly since I am a little bit thin and small.
"The only criterion to judge military personnel is his or her ability to fight and win a battle on the battlefield, not the stature. The fact that we have been invited to coach the Uzbek cadets is a sign that the ‘Falcon Commando’ under the Chinese People’s Armed Police Force has gained high recognition as a national anti-terrorism force. Believe in yourself and show them your true capabilities!" said Commanding officer Li Shijia, who probably detected our low spirits and wanted to cheer us up.
Precise sniping, an egg was smashed 300 meters away with one gunshot. Hand-in-hand fight, Chinese instructors subdue with one blow. During the performance before the training, Chinese drill masters thrilled the audience on the spot with their amazing feats, especially when the 25-meter pistol precision shooting began, three female instructors achieved outstanding results with three 50 points. Seeing that our impact points concentrated in a circle with a radius of 3 cm, Uzbek personnel surrounding us burst into thunderous applause.
Although the performance was successful, the coaching was not that easy.
"Twist your waist with hip pushing forward, and push up your upper body with the strength from your waist!" Yao Yanan and I made a demonstration in front of a squad, and repeatedly explained the essentials of the action in December, when it was piercing cold and windy in Tashkent, and the air would instantly frost up when exhaled.
However, the Uzbek interpreter was not proficient in Chinese, especially in the translation of military terms. The Uzbek cadets could hardly understand and master the essentials of actions since they were quite confused.
"In this way, it’s impossible for us to complete the coaching task!" After the first class, everyone fell into contemplation.
Diligence is the only way to make up for the limited conditions. One of the Uzbek cadets was proficient in English, so we translated the lecture contents into English with a translating machine in advance. And then, this Uzbek cadet would interpret the English contents into Uzbek for her team members the next day. Thus, we had to stay up late till one or two o'clock in the early morning every day.
During the course, we had to face the cadets’ unexpected irritations from time to time. "A single action of pulling the gun out has been practiced for three days. When will you teach us how to play live ammunition?" During the training interval, two cadets complained to us about the training being dull in content and not scientific enough in their eyes.
"The equip speed is very important in real combat against terrorism. No matter how precise your shooting is, you cannot win without a solid foundation.” Li Shijia had meant to make everyone understand this point with the analysis of actual combat cases, but the cadets didn't seem to buy it.
When the facts did not make sense, acts would work. In that afternoon, we arranged a game: a quick response shot with the gun in holster, the one who hit the target with the shortest time would win. The contestants included nine Uzbek cadets with top military qualities and me.
The game began with a command. At the moment of pulling out the gun, with my right hand thumbing open the insurance and the left hand pulling the bolt to load the gun, the target fell to the ground upon shooting. The timer read 1.02 seconds. However, the guns of the nine cadets were still in their holsters.
"If Instructor Huang was your opponent, you would already be dead." Captain Li Shijia's remarks suddenly struck the cadets to understand that basic skills are crucial.
Shortly after 2019 New Year's Day, we had the first shooting test. Unfortunately, it rained cats and dogs that day. The cadets waiting for the test put on their raincoats, hid in the tents, and kept rubbing their hands and stamping their feet.
As the rain was getting heavier, the Uzbek cadets sent umbrellas and raincoats to us, the three instructors who launched the test. Commanding officer Li Shijia told them, "Chinese soldiers are not afraid of wind and rain!" when the Uzbek organizers saw that we refused to hold up the umbrellas, they asked for the test to be postponed to another day, but were rejected again by Commanding officer Li, who said, "Nobody could foresee when the war will happen!"
After a while, a touching scene occurred on the training ground, with all the 38 cadets and five staff members taking off their raincoats and standing in the heavy rain...
Since then, the Uzbek cadets no longer complained, probably affected by our spirits. Simultaneously, we also felt the respect from the Uzbek cadets. Even the way they greeted us turned into "Ni hao" in Chinese or a salute with hands folded, an imitation of traditional Chinese greets.
The place and the instructors are the same, but the subject demonstration was carried out by the cadets instead of the instructors in last time.
They were all energetic on the shooting range. A series of actions including pulling the gun bolt to load, aiming, shooting, changing the clips, and changing the shooting position, were done in one go.
"In the past three months when you were in China, we kept training hard every day!" cadet Hersh, said to me through an interpreter. The fighting spirits of the Chinese military personnel have deeply inspired each of them. A cadet named Sasha got up one hour earlier every day to have a long-distance running and lost more than 10 kilograms of weight for the purpose of exercising her endurance. Hersh has once collapsed in a training, but still insisted on crawling to the end...
Their remarks are moving and delightful tome. It was a special and glorious mission for me, an ordinary non-commissioned officer, to display the image and spiritual outlook of Chinese military personnel in a foreign country!
(Shuai Gangshe, YuanKunxiang and Dai Feng have contributed to this article)