IDF buys time in a lawsuit brought by women who want to serve as tank crews by citing insufficient data and scheduling a second pilot
As has been widely reported, the IDF has conducted a pilot program of incorporating female personnel in its armored corps. The pilot included 15 to 20 women and had inconclusive results. While some of the women had satisfactory performance, others had exhibited insufficient physical and mental strength. While what constituted mental shortcomings has not been disclosed, physical failures involved the lack of strength to load 49 lbs shells into the 120 mm canon at a rate that was sufficient to meet requirements. Additionally, a few of the women failed to repair the tracks of the Merkava tanks within the allotted timeframe.
As a result of the inconclusive pilot, the program to incorporate female personnel in the armored corps’s static defense division was suspended until the recent lawsuits brought by two of the program’s graduates. Rather than defend the lawsuit, the Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi has ordered that another pilot, this time involving double the number of women in the previous one be conducted. The 30 to 40 women drafted for this pilot will have to meet minimum height and weight requirements to mitigate the failings of physical strength that were one of the key lessons from the previous pilot.
In another departure from the previous pilot, the new class of female recruits will undergo training together with their male counterparts at the Shizafon base in which all armored corps units undergo training, rather that in the training facility for semi-combat units which housed the previous pilot.
Lt. Gen. Kochavi’s order delays the final decision as to the incorporation of women into static defense tank battalions that are deployed along Israel’s borders by at least 18 months.
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