Female combat soldiers in light infantry units to be exempt from reserves

IDF says female combat soldiers in co-ed units "called up for missions based on operational needs.”

Women in an IDF combat unit help one of their fellow fighters during a training exercise (photo credit: REUTERS)
Women in an IDF combat unit help one of their fellow fighters during a training exercise
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Female combat soldiers serving in co-ed light infantry units may be permanently exempt from reserve duty after they complete their mandatory service under a new plan by the IDF.
While there are more and more women being integrated into combat positions in Israel’s military, according to a report on Channel 12 on Sunday, a new plan being considered may end reserve duty for female soldiers in such combat units like Caracal and Bardelas.
“Recently, the Manpower Directorate has been working on a plan now under consideration in connection with the issue of integrating female combat soldiers from light infantry units in the IDF,” read an internal Manpower Directorate document released by Channel 12.
According to the report, female combat soldiers who heard about the planned changes were furious as until now they were called up for reserve service like their male counterparts, and there have been no complaints on the matter.
The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit responded to the report saying that both female and male soldiers from light infantry units “will be transferred to emergency combat reserves” and will be “called up for missions based on operational needs.”
“Hundreds of female combat soldiers serve in the IDF in various capacities, and female soldiers who spent their mandatory service in artillery units, the Combat Intelligence Collection Corps, and the Oketz special forces unit will continue to be called up for reserve duty to serve in their units after their mandatory service,” the statement said. “Today, more and more female combat soldiers are doing their reserve duties in various operational units, according to the needs of the military.”
The Defense Service Law states that every man and woman has the right to serve in any position in the military unless the inherent nature of the position requires otherwise.
With several mixed-gender border defense battalions, the IDF has in recent years increased the recruitment of women into combat units, with thousands serving in combat positions across the military.
Last summer saw a record 1,000 female combat soldiers drafted into combat roles.
An estimated 90% of the positions in the IDF are now open to women, including combat roles in the Navy, Home Front Command, Artillery Corps and Military Police in the West Bank. Other combat posts that have been cleared for female soldiers include operating the Spike (Tammuz) missile and the hand-launched Skylark UAV.
Last June, the IDF 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. But in April, the military said that despite a successful pilot program in which 10 female soldiers were trained on tanks, women would not be able to serve in the Armored Corps.
The decision to freeze the project was taken based on a situational assessment of the Ground Forces, which found that the next stage of the pilot program “would require significantly more manpower and resources to undertake,” the military said at the time, adding that it was decided instead to strengthen other existing coed combat units.
In August, Chief Armored Corps Officer Brig.-Gen. Guy Hasson said that the military’s decision was not final and the attempt to integrate female combat soldiers into their own tanks had not been dropped from the agenda.
Last year Head of the Manpower Directorate Maj.-Gen. Moti Almoz said that not all combat positions are suitable for women.
“I do not think that female soldiers need to serve as combat soldiers in the classic infantry brigades like Paratroopers or Golani,” he said in an interview with Israel’s Channel 12 news. “In the end, a soldier has to take another soldier – 90 kilos – on his back on a stretcher, and walk 12 kilometers with him because he is wounded. Sometimes you even have to take one on top of the other... that’s not right. It’s not only their capabilities, but the needs of the army also dictate.”