IDF to Open More Combat Roles For Women in Trial Run
The Israeli military said on Tuesday that it will experimentally broaden the number of combat roles available to women, after an assessment found there would be no impediment to their integration.
The decision follows a probe into the subject carried out for a year and a half by an internal committee, which reviewed all roles closed to women in the IDF. Female combat recruits will now be eligible to join Unit 669, which carries out aerial combat search and rescue missions; the elite commando engineering unit Yahalom; and a mobility division in the Infantry Corps.
“I am very happy that we have the opportunity to open this door,” said the IDF’s chief engineering officer, Brig. Gen. Ido Mizrahi.
Candidates for Units 669 and Yahalom are expected to be identified as early as the end of the year. Those who meet the requisite thresholds and pass combat screenings in the coming year will be recruited.
Lt. Col. “S” — the commander of Unit 669 who cannot be named for security reasons — applauded the military’s decision to improve access for women, who are already eligible for 95 percent of Air Force roles. “Appointments to the unit will be made possible based on the existing physiological criteria, and will be the same for women and men,” he said.
The trial program comes after four female recruits turned to Israel’s High Court in 2020 in a bid to force the military to let them try to enlist in male-only combat roles. Currently, 88 percent of IDF roles are open to women. As of last year, 18 percent of the combat force was made up of women, up from three percent in 2012.
“The IDF is the people’s army, and as part of that it makes a meaningful service possible for everyone. Yet first and foremost it is committed to making professional, operational, and matter-of-fact decisions,” said Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi.
“The IDF staffs its ranks on the basis of professional considerations only, and in accordance with the operational needs on the battlefield, while making the best use of men and women for most positions,” he added.
The Israeli military already maintains four co-ed infantry battalions. The oldest of these units — the majority-women Caracal Battalion — was first formed in 2000 as an experimental company.
“Increasing the percentage of women in all positions and opening up the possibility for them to serve in a wider range of positions has improved and will continue to improve the quality of the IDF,” the military said.