A soldier from the Golani Brigade holds a comrade’s hand as he helps him during a 70-kilometre march, marking the completion of their advanced training, at the end of which they receive their brown beret, in 2014.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Two years after the IDF’s Border Defense Force was established, the array’s newest officers graduated on Thursday.
The 53 men and women who made up the 5th Border Defense Force officers course graduated after a four month course at the IDF’s Officer’s School and a four month long advanced training course at the Border Defense School at the Sayarim base in the Negev.
“Israel understood it had to invest more on defending its borders, and while it might only be two years old the course is built on past history,” Lt.-Col. Ayalon Peretz, one of the commanders at the Border Defense School, told The Jerusalem Post, adding that with “every course we are getting better and better.”
According to Peretz, every transition from soldier to officer is different.
“Turning a soldier into an officer is something personal. For every single one the course builds him or her to be the best they can be,” Peretz said, adding that “everyone is different and we have to strengthen every individual in different ways.”
“We worked with them to become as professional as possible and to be as mentally strong as possible even when they are in doubt,” he continued. “Tomorrow the officers will get soldiers to command, all over the country. When you get command of some 18-30 soldiers you get a big responsibility, from completing the mission to the personal responsibility of each soldier. During the past four months we trained them to be able to do that.”
The IDF formed the Border Defense Force in 2017, bringing all units who defended the country’s borders under one roof and creating a new speckled, yellow, green and brown berets for the troops. It includes troops from the army’s four mixed-gender battalion as well as teams of female soldiers who monitor surveillance cameras along Israel’s border and in the West Bank.
According to Peretz, the last drill that was held before the graduation was a scenario in which the troops had to cross Israel’s borders to eliminate a threat.
“A border is only a physiological barrier, both to us and our enemy. If need be we will cross it, men and women together, to stop the threat.”
With the mixed-gender border defense battalions, the IDF has in recent years increased the recruitment of women to combat units, with a record breaking 1,000 women inducted into combat units this summer – the most to do so in the country’s history.
According to the army, 80% stating that joining the mixed-gender unit was their highest preference when they enlisted.
While having men and women serving together in the army may be controversial, Peretz told the Post that it is “done in a very respectful way.”
“While they may train and work together but they don’t sleep together, not even in the field,” he said, explaining that there are different sleeping quarters for the troops.
The military recently updated the IDF’s Joint Service order which regulates interaction between troops of the opposite sex, which includes enforcing mandatory separate sleeping quarters.
“Whoever signs up for this they know what they are going to get, it’s no secret. But those in our course have a lot of motivation to be the best officers they can be,” Peretz said.
Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>