IDF: Women won't serve in the Armored Corps

Military says decision was made several months ago due to the need of "significant increase in manpower and infrastructure."

April 15, 2019 04:12
Tank commanders in the IDF

Tank commanders in the IDF. (photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)


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The IDF will not be allowing women to serve in the Armored Corps despite a successful pilot in which 10 female soldiers were trained on tanks, the IDF said on Sunday.

The decision to freeze the project was taken following the assessment of the situation in the Ground Forces, which found that the next stage of the pilot program “requires a significant increase in manpower and infrastructure,” the IDF said, adding that it was decided instead to strengthen other combat units.

The reason for the decision was the cost-benefit calculations of the separate training and allocation of combat units. According to the military, the decision was made public several months ago and discussed with current Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi.

“The knowledge to implement the process, if it is decided [to do so] in the future, has been acquired and exists,” the military said. In June, the IDF had announced that four female soldiers had successfully completed a pilot program to train on tanks and become tank commanders in an attempt to integrate women into combat roles in the Armored Corps.

The main focus of the pilot program was the physical abilities of the female recruits, who are divided into teams led by a male soldier commanding a Merkava Mark III tank. Throughout all phases of the program, the recruits were accompanied by experienced tank commanders, doctors, nutritionists and fitness experts.

The pilot program began with 15 female recruits beginning basic training in southern Israel, with two recruits dropping out just after two weeks. The 13 remaining recruits then moved to Shizafon where they were divided into three squads headed by a senior tank commander, completing their tank training on the Mark III.

Ten of the recruits who began the course and completed it successfully were deployed to the Egyptian border with Division 80, and four of them became tank commanders. One of the first female tank commanders, 20-year-old Sgt. Charlotte Peled-Davidovitch, made aliyah to Israel from England two years ago.

When the IDF announced that it was considering the possibility of having women serve in the armored corps, several former high-ranking officers and religious groups come out against it, including former IDF chief rabbi Yisrael Weiss.

Weiss argued said that if a male and female soldier are put “into a closed box for a week... you’ll get a little tank soldier in another nine months.”

The IDF responded to the criticism stating that even if the pilot program is deemed successful, there would be no mixed-gender tank crews, and female tank crews will not be part of battalions that would operate in enemy territory; they would instead only be deployed to the borders.

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