IDF's Air Defense Division to get 1st female deputy battalion commander

"There are no limits to what you can do if you set your mind to it," said U.S. Army Maj. Mary Thorton.

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March 8, 2018 23:40
3 minute read.

Major Mary Thorton Executive Officer 5th Battalion, 7th Air Defense Artillery Regiment

Major Mary Thorton Executive Officer 5th Battalion, 7th Air Defense Artillery Regiment

The IDF’s Air Defense Division will have its first female deputy battalion commander, Brig.-Gen Zvika Haimovitch, the commander of the division, said on Thursday.

Maj. Revital (last name withheld for security purposes), will take up her post in the summer as deputy battalion commander of the David’s Sling missile-defense system.

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She began her service on the Hawk missile batteries and was the first female commander of an Iron Dome Battery during Operation Protective Edge in 2014.

“We are proud. And while I wasn’t planning on it happening on International Women’s Day, here we are,” Haimovitch announced during a briefing with military reporters in southern Israel for the joint Israel-US Juniper Cobra exercise.

The highest ranking female in her unit participating in the exercise in Juniper Cobra, Maj. Mary Thorton, executive officer 5th Battalion, 7th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, told The Jerusalem Post that “it’s all about knowing your job.”

Thorton, whose father served in the US military and whose twin brother is currently serving, has spent the last 13 years in the army and is currently based in Germany as part of the US European Command.

 Maj. Mary Thorton of the U.S. Army and Brig.-Gen. Zvika Haimovitch on March 8, 2018. (Credit: U.S. Air Force Tech Sergeant Matthew Plew)



“It’s interesting for me that we still have this conversation, about what it’s like to be a woman in the military because I can honestly say for me, right now, I don’t feel like there’s a difference,” she told the Post.

“For me it’s all about knowing your job. If you are proficient at your job it makes it easier to compete and to be side-by-side with male soldiers, officers, warrant officers, what have you.

“At the end of the day, soldiers just want to know that the soldier on the left, the right, the front and rear, has your back because you know your job and you are capable.

“That’s what I try to tell other female soldiers, just know your job, do your job and excel at it. I joined the army because I wanted to see the world – and look at where I am today,” she said.

“I want to say to all the women out there: There are no limits to what you can do if you set your mind to it, whether it’s in the military or civilian sector. Just do your job and excel at it.”

Sec.-Lt. Jennifer Slade, air defense artillery officer Delta Battery, 5th Battalion, 7th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, echoed Thorton, telling the Post that there is “no difference” between men and women in the US military.

It’s all about respect and drive, she said.

Slade, who was commissioned as an army air defense officer and has 22 soldiers under her command, plans to continue progressing in her military career.

“And if that path leads to someday where I will get married and have children, then I will continue to serve my family and my country.”

Over the past year, several women broke through the glass ceiling in the IDF, both in the air and on the ground.

In January Israel Air Force commander Maj.-Gen. Amikam Norkin appointed two women to senior positions, including the first woman to command an aviation squadron.

Maj. T. (entire name is withheld due to security reasons) will be promoted to lieutenant-colonel and will head a squadron of Israel Air Force transport planes.

Another woman, Maj. M. was named to command the IAF’s operational command and control unit and be promoted to lieutenant-colonel. She will be the first female air traffic controller to reach that rank.

In December, 13 female soldiers became the first to complete combat training to become tank operators, and were sent to the southern border for a trial deployment.

According to IDF figures, 38% of female recruits have asked to be evaluated for combat service, and an estimated 90% of the positions in the IDF are now open to women. While the IDF had 2,500 women serving in combat roles in the military in 2017, up from 500 only three years ago, women still account for less than 10% of combat troops.



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