Starting from the upcoming August draft, female soldiers will no longer be trained for the infantry level of combat-readiness, Rifleman 07, the weekly magazine Bamahane revealed in its latest edition. Instead, the female soldiers and the male counterparts who serve alongside them in the affected mixed-gender units (Caracal, Lions of Jordan, and Cheetah) will only reach Rifleman 05.
A female soldier in Caracal said on Thursday, “It doesn’t damage me personally, but it’s outrageous and irritating. Our training today is exactly like any regular combat soldier in the IDF. This isn’t something that is impossible for woman, because women are already doing it. There are girls who wouldn’t give any man the time of day. It’s frustrating if this is really going to happen.”
The proposed measure would bring to a shortening by half of the length of basic training, bringing it to only 15 weeks. Following a change in basic training and rifleman level, further changes are expected for the advanced training of soldiers in the mixed-gender brigades.
The first Caracal platoon that mixed female fighters alongside men began in 2000. Four years later, the battalion of the same name was founded, with the goal of integrating women into the IDF’s combat system. The battalion was composed of two-thirds women and one-third men. Its assignment was to defend the border with Egypt.
In 2015, the second mixed-gender battalion, Lions of Jordan, was established, responsible for maintaining ongoing security in the Jordan Valley. The third mixed-gender battalion is Cheetah (“Bardelas” in Hebrew), whose soldiers defend the border with Jordan in the Arava.
In these three battalions, the entire military service, from induction to training to discharge, is co-ed (with the exception of the barracks).
IDF sources explain that the reason for the change lies in the fact that a substantial part of training does not correlate with the operational activities of the mixed-gender battalions. Thus, while the purpose of the battalions is to defend the borders, the soldiers are trained in maneuvers behind enemy lines, training that they are not required to implement in practice.
According to the sources, organizational considerations lie behind the dramatic step. Foremost among them is removing the battalions from the infantry and turning them into a border-defense system currently being set up. An additional consideration is the shortening of service from three years to 32 months. Furthermore, this coming November, a new, fourth mixed-gender battalion is expected to be created.
According to the recently revealed information, it seems that a preponderance of the female soldiers in the IDF—about 23 percent —serves in the infantry units. Following in percentage is Home Front Command with 17 percent, the Border Police with 16 percent, the air defense and military police with 14 percent each, eight percent in the Combat Intelligence Collection Corps and three percent in the Navy.
According to sources in the Israeli Ground Forces, it seems that candidates’ motivation for induction into the mixed-gender battalions for their defense service is high and that in recent drafts, demand was greater than the spots available, including the desire to serve in the newest battalions.