(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Thursday launched a pilot program in which women will be trained as tank operators. The program is part of the IDF’s efforts to increase gender integration in infantry combat units.
The screening process for suitable candidates among new recruits is already underway, the IDF said. The program will include 15 women, who will begin training during the summer after completing basic military training.
As part of the four-month-long training program, the women will be assigned to the 460th Armored Division and stationed at the Shizafon Base in southern Israel, home of the IDF’s advanced armored training school.
Unlike their male counterparts, women serving in infantry combat units will be primarily assigned to routine security missions. As such, their training will be adjusted accordingly, and they will be expected to master the operation of Merkava Mark III tanks, used primarily in border protection units.
It will be heavily supervised by IDF Medical Corps personnel and combat fitness experts. An Armored Corps official said the main physical obstacles the women are likely to face are loading shells into a tank’s gun and dealing with a tank’s tracks coming off.
The IDF plans to form both mixed and all-female tank units, but the close-quarters nature of serving in tanks has made creating all-female units a priority, one official said.
“We are giving this a real chance and we’ll be wiser after the pilot program concludes,” Armored Corps Commander Brig. Gen. Guy Hasson said.