As part of Israel’s efforts to increase gender integration among combat forces, Israel’s first female tank operators are completing their training and ready to be deployed along Israel’s southern border, The Times of Israel reported.
In March, the army announced that 15 women had been selected out of mixed-gender recruits to serve in the pilot program for tanks. Thirteen of the women selected made it through the completed training program on Israel’s Merkava Mark 3 tanks.
In December, the women will join the army’s 80th Division which operates in the southern Negev and Arava deserts in Israel’s south. The women will not be part of the regular Armored Corps combat units, but will join the recently created Border Defense Force, which is meant to be deployed only within Israel’s borders.
Deployment of the female tank operators comes at a time that the IDF is trying to accommodate the growing number of women who are seeking combat roles. During the past five years the number of women seeking combat roles has increased 500 percent.
Critics of gender-integrated combat units charge that the physical requirements have been relaxed. However, the army insists that the physical requirements have been reduced for all soldiers “as the military reevaluates what is actually necessary for combat service and what is excessive and more likely to cause injury than prepare troops for war.”
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