Two fe­male sol­diers drop out of pi­lot tank pro­gram

The Jerusalem Post - - NEWS - • By ANNA AHRONHEIM

Just one month into a pi­lot pro­gram to study the pos­si­bil­ity of in­te­grat­ing women into the ar­mored corps, two re­cruits have dropped out with no rea­son pro­vided by the IDF.

The pro­gram, which be­gan in Au­gust with 15 fe­male re­cruits train­ing in south­ern Is­rael, will end in March after which the IDF will study the re­sults and de­cide whether or not to ad­mit fe­male sol­diers into the Ar­mored Corps’ tank brigades.

The main fo­cus of the pi­lot pro­gram is the phys­i­cal abil­i­ties of the fe­male re­cruits who are di­vided into teams led by a male sol­dier com­mand­ing a Merkava Mark III tank. Through­out all phases of the pro­gram, the re­cruits are ac­com­pa­nied by ex­pe­ri­enced tank com­man­ders, doc­tors, nu­tri­tion­ists and fit­ness ex­perts.

The sol­diers must prove that they are able to operate ev­ery as­pect of the tank, in­clud­ing lift­ing shells, driv­ing and fir­ing. Although the IDF did not elab­o­rate on the rea­sons why the two re­cruits dropped out of the pro­gram, it is like due to phys­i­cal dif­fi­cul­ties.

Although fe­male sol­diers al­ready serve as tank in­struc­tors, the IDF an­nounced in Novem­ber that it was con­sid­er­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of hav­ing women serve in tank brigades in the Ar­mored Corps, a con­tro­ver­sial move that was op­posed by for­mer high-rank­ing of­fi­cers and re­li­gious groups.

For­mer com­man­der of the ground forces Maj.-Gen. Yif­tah Ron-Tal said in­te­grat­ing women into the Ar­mored Corps would do noth­ing for gen­der equal­ity, and only en­dan­ger women’s lives, while for­mer IDF chief rabbi Yis­rael Weiss crit­i­cized the idea, say­ing: “If we put two peo­ple into a closed box, there’s no way some­thing won’t hap­pen. We can’t put a cou­ple, a man and a wo­man, a male sol­dier and a fe­male sol­dier, into a closed box for a week and ex­pect that noth­ing will hap­pen. You’ll get a lit­tle tank sol­dier in an­other nine months.”

The IDF has re­sponded to the crit­i­cism stat­ing that, even if the pi­lot pro­gram is deemed suc­cess­ful, there would be no mixed-gen­der tanks crews and that fe­male tank crews would not be part of bat­tal­ions that operate in enemy ter­ri­tory, but only would be de­ployed to the borders.

Ac­cord­ing to IDF fig­ures, 38% of fe­male re­cruits have asked to be eval­u­ated for com­bat ser­vice, which is one of the rea­sons the army is open­ing new fight­ing po­si­tions to women. The IDF ex­pects to see at least 2,500 women en­list in com­bat units in the com­ing year.

The most popular units for fe­male com­bat sol­diers are the Home Front Com­mand and Bor­der Po­lice, but many also join com­bat-in­tel­li­gence units, the ar­tillery corps and in the army’s in­fantry units.

The Ar­mored Corps, in re­cent years, has be­come one of the least popular units for new IDF re­cruits be­cause it is said to have the worst ser­vice con­di­tions and fewer week­ends off than other corps. In Novem­ber, 86 of 200 sol­diers who were as­signed to the Ar­mored Corps re­fused to board the buses to their bases after in­duc­tion. Half were sent to the de­ten­tion fa­cil­ity at the in­duc­tion cen­ter and the other half were sent to var­i­ous mil­i­tary pris­ons after re­ceiv­ing jail terms rang­ing from four to 20 days for re­fus­ing to obey or­ders.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Israel

© PressReader. All rights reserved.