Six female soldiers have started training in a CRR course (climbing, rappelling and rescue), which the IDF has opened for women for the first time.
Graduates of this prestigious eight-month course will go on to train soldiers in IDF's most classified elite units in counter-terrorism and rescue missions in both urban and mountainous terrain.
As part of the course, the participants—nine men and six women—will train for different scenarios in multiple field conditions around the country that will simulate the rescue of civilians and combatants. The girls' participation in the course will require of them to extend their enlistment for eight more months, so they will serve as much time as their male counterparts.
"I'm happy to get the opportunity to be part of the first mixed-gender CRR course," said Private Ofir Shmuelov, one of the six female soldiers to be accepted to the program. "I have no doubt that the burden of proof is on us girls, and I hope we will rise to the challenge. I really want to successfully finish this challenging and interesting training."
All the participants in the course are soldiers who know and love climbing. The girls who got accepted understand that their success will determine whether more women will be accepted to this course in the future.
"A CRR instructor is a duty that requires professionalism, understanding, physical capabilities and responsibility," offered Private Ruth Yitzhaki, another female soldier to be accepted to the program. "I feel honored to be part of this program, especially in the first time this course integrates women. I hope not to disappoint. Our training is not expected to be easy, but I'm sure we will succeed and go on to train IDF's elites to do a perfect job. We have quite a responsibility on our shoulders, and we're aware of that."
"The unique nature of CRR is that it's the only field to incorporate climbing, rappelling and rescuing from difficult terrain in the IDF," explained Major S., the head of the underground combat department in the Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU). "At the end of the day, the participants will do their job about 300 feet above ground, while being responsible for the safety of either trainees or injured. Their work must be uncompromisably professional and safe. Participants in the course travel throughout the country, both to have different training fields and to simulate the different kinds of terrain they must learn and adapt to.
"The field of CRR is supposed to provide an answer to combat, rescue and evacuation problems in challenging heights and depths, which it does for IDF soldiers as well as police officers. After close examination we learned that women had a lot to contribute in developing the field, and so we decided to open the option of CRR course instructors to them.
"Throughout the course both men and women will rappel from great heights, something that requires high capabilities—both personal and as part of a team—and the ability to overcome complex difficulties in various conditions. Additionally, participants will learn to instruct and command, as they will be responsible for training combatants and also direct training and rescue teams in a real time scenario."