IDF to integrate women into tank units

IDF decides to continue its “experiment” in using female soldiers in combat units including tanks, but with minimum requirements for height and weight. 

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

The IDF decided to continue its experiment with integrating female combat soldiers into active tank units, Kan Radio reported Wednesday.

The move is part of a decision in March by IDF Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi to allow women to serve in combat roles in the the IDF’s Armored Corps. Previously, women could serve in Armored Corps units as instructors, but not in combat positions such as tank drivers and gunners.

Several years ago the IDF integrated women as active combat troops in other army units, including the light infantry Caracal Battalion formed in 2000 that is 70 percent female troops, and the mixed battalions Lions of Jordan and Bardelas. The army’s canine Oketz unit also drafts women as combat soldiers as does the combat field intelligence unit, the IDF’s 669 Search and Rescue unit and IDF Home Front Command’s Search and Rescue force, which is also classified as a combat unit.

Starting in November the Army will test the ability of using the co-ed tank units by integrating fighters from the Caracal and Bardalas battalions. Soldiers can apply to join the new mixed-gender tank company, but would have to meet requirements including a minimum height of 165 centimeters (5 feet four inches), minimum weight of 60 kilograms (132 pounds), a high skill level and a commitment to serve at least 20 months in the new unit.

The female soldiers will receive extra combat training and be incorporated into an operational tank company within the Caracal Battalion that is stationed on the Egyptian border.

The first experiment of integrating women into armored units began two years ago. However, the trial of all-female tank crews ended with a decision against their use. After a second review, Chief of Staff Kochavi decided to reverse the decision and continue the experiment.

The organization Torat Lechima (Martial Theory), which has voiced its opposition in the past to such moves, tweeted its opposition to the new decision, calling on the Army spokesman to stop sending out announcements about using women in combat.

“Advice to the IDF Spokesperson – Maybe you will tell us at the end of the female tank soldier experiment what happened, instead of putting out a news item every two weeks. You did that in the previous experiment as well and it failed, and also the first experiment in 2015 failed,” the group said.

“Take care of the IDF’s role in winning wars rather than structuring gender roles,” the group tweeted.

Last week four high school graduates about to begin their military service petitioned the Supreme Court to order the IDF to allow women to try out for all combat units.

“We’re not asking that demands be changed for us – just let us try out and if we qualify, let us join the units,” Mor Lidani, 18, told Channel 12 News.