Israel Defense Forces decided not to integrate female soldiers in the Armored Corps despite conducting a successful pilot course last year, training female troops as tank crewwomen, the military said Sunday. The decision is based on the cost-benefit considerations that the establishment of a new IDF unit would entail.
The decision - first reported by Army Radio - was confirmed by the military on Sunday. In an official statement, the army said although the trial period was defined as a success, training women for tank combat positions on a larger scale would require forming a separate military unit - with additional resources and infrastructure - which the IDF prefers not to invest in at this stage.
"During the course of one year and four months, a pilot training course was conducted to examine whether a team of women would be able to operate a tank in a manner sufficient enough to defend our borders,” said the military in a statement. “As a result, three tank crews - including four tank commanders - were successfully trained.
“Following an assessment - in cooperation with the border defense establishment and the Armored Corps - it was decided that the next-level training courses would require a significant addition of manpower and infrastructure … In the wake of that, it was decided to integrate the soldiers who had undergone the training into existing combat units, rather than establish new ones,” the statement added.
The 10 crewwomen who underwent the special training have in recent months been integrated into other combat units, such as the Karakal Battalion, composed of both male and female combat soldiers.
Army Radio reported that despite the timing of the announcement, the decision was made during the term of the previous IDF chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, who vacated his post last January.
Brig. Gen. (ret.) Avigdor Kahalani, the legendary commander of the Armored Corps famous for his heroics in the Yom Kippur War, said he was not surprised by the military’s decision.
"I thought this would be the outcome all along,” Kahalani said. “I am in favor of women in the military … but on a technical level, there are limits. For instance, to the amount of weight they can lift, and I speak from experience, as someone who’s been to every possible battlefield. We’re not at a point when we need to send female soldiers to the front line ... Do we want our future mothers returning home without limbs and with PTSD, like my soldiers back in the day?” Kahalani added.
Fifteen female combat soldiers launched the revolutionary pilot nearly two years ago after completing basic training in the Karakal. The pilot included basic tank training as a loader, a gunner, a tank driver, and a tank commander, as the soldiers exercised in enclosed spaces and in open areas, and received operational experience on the Egyptian border.
Five soldiers dropped out during the training course, with two terminating their participation due to medical issues unrelated to their training, while two others did not complete the course due to professional reasons, said the IDF. An additional soldier quit the course due to lack of motivation.