On Tuesday night, the IDF Spokesperson responded sharply to a report by Channel 2 News that the pilot program of women in the armored corps was successfully completed. The IDF Spokesperson clarified: “The experiment of integrating women in tanks as part of the border defense system has not yet been finalized and is expected to continue for a few more months.”
The unusually fast and harsh response apparently reveals a still ongoing disagreement within the IDF top brass on the issue of combat female soldiers serving under the unusual conditions posed by the confined environment of a tank in battle. It appears that not only “extremist settler rabbis” find it off-putting to force young men and women into the hull of a fighting tank where they would perform all their bodily functions for days on end.
Channel 2 reported victoriously Tuesday night that “now, about a week before the end of the pilot program in which the female fighters were integrated, it is possible to determine that the move was completed successfully and that women will be able to serve in the armored corps after carrying out all their tasks successfully.”
But now we know that the above victorious announcement did not come from a consensus of the IDF leadership, but was instead leaked by an element in the brass who vehemently supports the idea.
“The grueling test pilot began with 15 women, out of whom 13 completed it successfully and will begin their service as IDF Armored Corps combatants,” Channel 2 reported, adding, “True, gradual training and suitability will still be required, but they are able and have met all the demands – including the role of loader – which requires lifting and loading shells, and was at the core of the debate [over female tank combatants].”
But, of course, running kilometers while carrying tank treads, or lifting shells and shoving them into the tank’s gun was far from being the only issue at the core of the debate. The enclosed intimacy of a group of men and women inside the space of refrigerator box is a much more disturbing aspect of the debate.
The 13 women, who completed their basic training in December, have endured a considerably demanding physical and mental training program. And whether or not they received some relief in having to carry fewer gun magazines then the men, or whether or not their obstacle course included climbing that terrifyingly tall wall – they are undoubtedly in great shape and ready to serve as combat soldiers. They are probably also ready to tackle the demands of the tank commander course which is their next stop.
Nevertheless, it is clear that the seasoned top commanders of the IDF are still hesitating to shove them for three days at a time inside a fighting tank where everyone is using the same bucket.