IDF increases number of female combat soldiers in co-ed units
While co-ed battalions used to be considered an exception, the situation today is different, and the IDF's current need for female fighters is described as a critical operational need.
By TAL LEV RAM/MAARIV
The IDF has decided to significantly increase the number of women serving as combat soldiers in co-ed battalions.The military is changing the ratio between members of those units, especially in order to move male fighters to maneuvering units, which are experiencing a significant shortage of manpower – especially in land battalions – since compulsory service has been shortened.The number of women serving as combat soldiers has grown fourfold over the past three years. The IDF believes that this trend will continue and that it will make the change possible.Although the number of women wanting to serve in combat units is increasing, as opposed to a decrease with men, this remains a voluntary choice for women. But those who do volunteer commit to serving for at least three years, as men must do, if they are assigned to a combat unit.The IDF data, published today for the first time, showed that female soldiers now make up two-thirds (65%) of the Border Police, as opposed to just over half (55%) previously.Even in the Home Front Command Rescue Battalions, which also carry out regular security missions in the Judea and Samaria area, there has been a significant change. If until recently, the proportion was 50/50, it now stands at 60% female fighters compared to 40% male. The same trend is recorded in air defense, within its various units – men used to make up 55% of the forces compared to 45% made up by women; the situation is now reversed.The IDF pointed out that there has been a dramatic increase in the number of young women who want to serve as combat soldiers. While co-ed battalions like Caracal used to be considered an exception, the situation today is different and the IDF’s current need for female fighters is described as a critical operational need.Today, the IDF has a lack of manpower in fighting battalions, as reflected in senior companies and platoons, i.e., those made of people in the last six months of their service.The average number of fighters in senior company platoons is often around 15 or 16 people. It also happens that due to manpower problems, the army merges companies into one. Some fighting battalions lack dozens of soldiers.In light of this, chief of staff Aviv Kochavi has set an immediate target that the minimum number of soldiers in infantry companies should be 21. Assigning to them more men from the co-ed battalions is one step to solve the problem.This article was translated by Rossella Tercatin.