Nahal haredi soldier 248 AJ.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
A group of haredi soldiers in the IAF has broken an air force record for percentage of soldiers who have requested to become officers.
Out of the more than 250 haredi soldiers, 60 percent have submitted official requests to attend Bahad 1, the IDF Officers School, and extend their military service, a top IAF officer revealed this week.
One of the haredi soldiers has already become an officer and another is currently in the course.
"This is the largest percentage in the entire IAF," the officer said, explaining that the men were mostly in their mid-20s, married and with children, and therefore wanted to stay in the air force, where they had relatively secure positions.
Haredim started serving in the IAF in 2007, when then-OC Air Force Maj.-Gen. Elazar Shkedy, facing dwindling enlistment, started to recruit in the haredi community.
The attempt was successful, and the haredi soldiers, after receiving intensive training, serve as mechanics, computer programmers and electricians. The IAF plans to double their number by 2010.
The soldiers' immediate work environment is without women, and they receive glatt kosher food and attend one Torah lesson a day. They do not stay in their bases overnight. Their starting salary is between NIS 3,000 and NIS 4,000 per month.
Following the IAF model, Military Intelligence has recently established a program to enlist haredim as computer programmers.
Meanwhile Thursday, graduates of the IAF's pilot's course received their wings in a ceremony at the Hatzerim Base, near Beersheba. Twenty-four percent of the graduates' mothers work in education. Five percent of the graduates were born abroad and 5% are religious. There is one Druse among them; he graduated as a navigator.