GOC Army Headquarters Commander Major-General Guy Zur, who recently entered office, initiated the ground-breaking program and turned to commanders of the head corps headquarters, including infantry and paratroopers, engineering and armored corps, and instructed them to hand recommendations by January on how to integrate female soldiers in combat positions under their jurisdiction.
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Among the new roles examined by the IDF are positions of gunning tanks, operating heavy engineering machinery, including D-9 bulldozers, and clearing bombs in the Yahalom special elite combat engineering unit.
In addition, the possibility of establishing additional combat battalions that include women, apart from the currently-operating Caracal Battalion, is being examined.
A senior Ground Forces source told Ynet that today the army holds many solutions to the issue of properly integrating female fighters alongside male fighters, as was already carried out in recent combat operations.
The source said: "Why can't a female soldier, in today's advanced technological age of the armored corps, fire a shell? This initiative originates primarily from the manpower needs in combat roles, and if the initiative proves successful, it is possible that these positions would open up in late 2014. We have no intention to establish gender units only for women, but we definitely want to incorporate them in more (existing) combat units."
Among other things, the initiative will be affected by two significant changes within the IDF that will take place in the next two years: Cut in service time for male soldiers by four months (not to take effect on fighters – to whom the army demands proper salary) and a similar addition of service time for women.
Today, female fighters who serve in the army are categorized as volunteers and serve a period of three years. This procedure is expected to be reevaluated within the framework of changes that will be conducted by the IDF.
Some 90% of the roles within the IDF are open to women as well nowadays, with the vast majority being back-end positions. Only 2% of women in the IDF are fighters and only 4% of all fighters are women. The main reason for this statistic is that many combat positions are not available for women due to physiological issues concerning the carrying of heavy weights, among other constraints.
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