Female tank crews get new lease on life as IDF chief of staff orders next phase of testing

The IDF chief of staff oversaw discussions with the aim to evaluate the possibility of integrating female tank crew members into the Border Defense Array.

By David Isaac, World Israel News 

The IDF considers the integration of women into the armed forces “necessary,” and their contribution to be of great significance, the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement on Sunday.

The statement follows a review over the last few weeks of the possibility of integrating female tank crews into the Border Defense Array. Although a female tank crew successfully passed a pilot course, they were not let into the Armored Corps. in a decision made back in April.

Cost was a major factor cited in that decision. The Army said that the “next stage would require a significant increase in manpower and infrastructure for the realization of the process” of creating female tank units.

However, the IDF is revisiting the decision after two women enlistees petitioned the Supreme Court to be allowed to serve in September.

The cause of women tank crews recently gained a boost this month from the support of Maj. Gen. (res.) Yitzhak Brick, former IDF ombudsman and himself a former Armored Corps commander.

According to Sunday’s IDF statement, Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, “oversaw a series of discussions of a large forum which included members of the General Staff as well as senior officers of the Armored Corps. The aim was to evaluate the possibility of integrating female tank crew members into the Border Defense Array.”

The discussions included a indepth look at the pilot program and lessons derived from it and an analysis of medical data and insights from other IDF arrays in which women participate in combat roles.

Kochavi says that the pilot showed potential to integrate female tank crew members in border defense missions, while highlighting certain shortcomings in meeting the required capabilities.

He ordered another step be taken in the examination process.

The next level in the process will include:

1. Defining relevant parameters for the selection process, based on the insights from the pilot.
2. Extending the number of participants and the duration of the operational section.
3. A female-tailored training program highlighting medicine, nutrition and physical training.
4. Gender-based tanks (i.e the gender of tank-crew members would be identical)
5. During the operational section, the tank crews will operate under the Border Defense Array in the 80th Division.
6. This next level will begin during the year of 2020.

Following training and operational phases of the next level, the IDF will make a decision regarding female tank crews taking into account “only professional and operational aspects” that align with the IDF’s needs.