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March 10, 2017 3:19 pm

Israeli Army to Train Women as Tank Operators for First Time

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An Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Merkava Mk 4m Windbreaker tank. Photo: IDF.

An Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Merkava Mk 4m Windbreaker tank. Photo: IDF.

JNS.org – The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has launched a pilot program to train women as tank operators, an official announced on Thursday.

As part of the IDF’s efforts to increase gender integration in infantry combat units, the four-month long course will include 15 female participants, who will begin the program this summer after completing basic training.

The screening process for suitable candidates among new recruits is already underway, the IDF said, and the program will be heavily supervised by IDF Medical Corps personnel and combat fitness experts.

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An Armored Corps official said the main physical obstacles the trainees are likely to face are loading shells into a tank’s gun and dealing with a tank’s tracks coming off.

The participants will be assigned to the 460th Armored Division and stationed at the Shizafon Base in southern Israel, home of 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, and their training will be adjusted accordingly. They will be expected to master the operation of Merkava Mark III tanks, used primarily in border protection units.

The IDF plans to form both mixed and all-female tank units, but the close-quarters 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.

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