Soon a fourth battalion will join the three gender mixed infantry battalions which operate nowadays in the IDF, and the trend of integration of women in combat roles continues. In order to make their service experience better, the soldiers got in the last months a new combat vest which is fitted to their body shape and considerably improved their ability to carry weights for long periods of time.
The raging discussion about female soldiers in the IDF is not going to fade soon, after founding two new female soldiers battalions (Arayot Hayarden and Bardelas) which joined the Caracal battalion, now a new, fourth female infantry battalion approved to be founded. The rise in female soldiers quantity in the IDF brought the ground forces to make a lot of changes in this field, and among others a new assault vest that especially fits the female soldier body, came into use in the last months and its integration will continue in the next months.
This modular vest with MOLLE webbing system is lighter and fits the female soldiers body in a better way. While in the past they were wearing a tactical vest which didn’t necessarily fit their body shape and was having a hard time to be used.
The efforts is not ending with the new female bulletproof vest. IDF recognized gaps regarding the female soldiers in a few fields: physical, preparation for the service and the care for the female soldier in service itself. Every soldier is familiar with the long lines while waiting for the specialist doctors and female soldiers must well know the oppressive waiting for the military gynecologist. Now, female fighters will get priority and appointments for gynecologists and physiotherapy treatments especially for them.
Nowadays, female soldiers who are about to be recruited that declare that they have a high motivation to serve in a combat unit, are invited to a classification day in Meitav unit in which they are exposed to all of the service options as a soldier. IDF gives them mainly the roles they chose in their first and second choices. Eventually, a female soldier can choose to give up on a combat role if she wants to, but IDF don’t want it to happen. Another subject which was set as a goal is the combat fitness, and later dedicated roles for trainers and fitness officers will open in the mixed battalions.
Founding the new battalions and integrating women in roles which were closed for them in the past (like combat medic) are happening, among other reasons, due to the shortening of the service period for men to 2 years and 8 months instead of 3 years. Israeli army believes that it’s not the only reason: If there are places in which women can be integrated and we examine it and see that it’s possible in terms of abilities, there’s no reason for us not to fulfil that.