IDF to establish 3rd mixed-gender infantry combat battalion

The new infantry battalion will be assigned to protect the border, with the women having to agree to serve an extra year, to make their induction time in the IDF matching that of men’s service.

By Lilach Shoval


This year’s August draft will also inaugurate the third mixed-gender combat battalion in the Israel Defense Forces, Israel Hayom has learned. The new battalion will be defined as a light infantry battalion assigned to protect the borders, much like the existing Caracal and Lions of Jordan battalions.

During an exercise male & female soldiers push each other along while some carry the stretcher. – Photo: IDF Spokesperson’s Unit

Two main reasons prompted the army to launch a new battalion in which men and women serve together: one is the sharp rise in the number of women expressing interest in serving in combat roles, and the second is a lack of available combat personnel due to the shortened service for men and increased reserves training.

The military intends to deploy the new battalion on border protection missions, like Caracal, and adjust infrastructure and methods for women. As Israel Hayom was the first to report, it was only a year ago that the IDF began putting together its second mixed-gender battalion, Lions of Jordan, and the organization is nearly complete.

This past year, Israel’s military decided to open more combat positions to female conscripts, mainly in special units in the Armored Corps, although it was also decided that women will not be allowed to serve in tanks.

According to IDF figures, in 2014, 387 female conscripts were assigned to light infantry combat roles. In total, more than twice as many women were drafted into combat positions in 2014 than in 2012, an increase of 123%. The percentage of women drafted into combat roles stood at 5.26% in 2014, and the IDF aspires to see 7% of female enlistees serving in combat positions.

The IDF Manpower Directorate reports that in 2014, 52.3% of potential female conscripts invited to try out for combat service attended, compared to 38% in 2013. More than three-quarters (77%) of the young women who attempted the combat fitness tests in 2014 passed, compared to 73.3% in 2013. Of the women drafted into combat roles in 2014, 25% were assigned to search and rescue units, 23% to the Border Police, 14% to air defense units, and 11.5% and 10.5% went to the Caracal and Lions of Jordan infantry battalions, respectively.

In 2014 women comprised 61.8% of Caracal soldiers; 21.8% of soldiers in artillery combat units (compared to 10.5% in 2013); 16.8% of air defense soldiers; and 27.6% of field intelligence soldiers. Women comprised 2.5% of the soldiers who completed the Israeli Air Force’s pilot training course and 3.5% of Israeli Navy commanders.

Women who volunteer to perform their military service in combat roles agree to serve an extra year, to make their time in the army equal to that of men, and will soon be required to serve an additional eight months beyond that to make up for the men’s shortened service.


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