IDF begins training women to become integrated as tank crew members


IDF launches pilot program, with the training of 15 women that will begin this coming summer, after completing their basic training. “We’re giving this a real chance,” says Armored Corps chief Brig. Gen. Guy Hasson.

By Lilach Shoval


The military on 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 pilot will include 15 women, who will begin training in the summer after completing basic training.

IDF soldiers during training – Photo courtesy IDF Spokesperson’s Unit

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 to 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.

The pilot program will be heavily supervised by Medical Corps personnel and combat fitness experts. An Armored Corps official said that the main physical obstacles the women are likely to face are loading shells into the tank’s gun and dealing with the 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.

Enlistment into the Armored Corps has significantly dropped in recent years, and those opposing gender integration in combat roles say placing women with tank units will further erode motivation.


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