IDF appoints first woman to command a brigade

Col. Reut Rettig-Weiss will command the 99th Division's Artillery Brigade.

 Col. Reut Rettig-Weiss was promoted to serve as brigade commander in the 99th Division's Artillery Brigade, the first woman in IDF history to fill such a role.  (photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON UNIT)
Col. Reut Rettig-Weiss was promoted to serve as brigade commander in the 99th Division's Artillery Brigade, the first woman in IDF history to fill such a role.
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON UNIT)

Col. Reut Rettig-Weiss was promoted to serve as brigade commander in the 99th Division’s Artillery Brigade on Thursday, making her the first woman in the IDF’s history to serve in such a role.

Rettig-Weiss was promoted to the rank of colonel by IDF Chief-of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi, and will serve as commander of the 99th division’s artillery brigade as well as head of an artillery unit at the military’s Tze’elim urban warfare training center.

"Almost seven years ago I was present at the founding ceremony for the unit and never in my wildest dreams did I think that one day I would command it. It's an extraordinary privilege and a tremendous mission."

Col. Reut Rettig-Weiss

According to the IDF’s Spokesperson’s Unit, she is the first woman at this rank to serve as a combat officer in the Artillery Corps.

In 2017, Rettig-Weiss became the first woman to become battalion commander of the IDF’s Artillery Corps' SkyRiders drone unit after serving as a deputy battalion commander in the Artillery Corps.

The SkyRiders Unit gathers intelligence before and during operational missions using the low-cost Skylark drone.

Israeli female soldiers walk in front of a tank during an exercise at the end of their tank instructors course at Shizafon base (credit: RONEN ZVULUN / REUTERS)Israeli female soldiers walk in front of a tank during an exercise at the end of their tank instructors course at Shizafon base (credit: RONEN ZVULUN / REUTERS)

Teams from the unit are assigned to other ground force units and operate the drones to provide tactical support and provide intelligence to company commanders and even brigade commanders.

“Almost seven years ago I was present at the founding ceremony for the unit and never in my wildest dreams did I think that one day I would command it. It’s an extraordinary privilege and a tremendous mission,” she said at the time.

She was the second Israeli woman to ever be appointed commander of a combat unit. In 2014, Lt.-Col. Oshrat Bacher became the first woman in Israel to command a combat brigade when she was named as commander of the Southern Command’s combat intelligence-gathering battalion.

Women in IDF combat positions

Although the IDF has been integrating more and more women in combat roles since 2000, the military said two weeks ago that not all combat units or positions would be open to women.

Elite units such as Sayeret Matcal, an army commando unit that goes behind enemy lines; naval commandos Shayetet 13 and the IAF’s Shaldag Special Forces unit will remain closed to women, the IDF said. The commando brigade and the Israel Navy’s Submarine Unit will also remain closed to women.

According to data released by the military, there has been an 18% increase in women serving in combat units.