IDF’s official filing discloses that the initial pilot for female tank crews was more a failure than a success
The Israel Defence Force has officially filed its response to the lawsuit brought by several graduates of the pilot program for incorporating female personnel in the stationary defense battalions of its armored corps. In its filing the IDF asks the court to dismiss the suit on the grounds that the pilot program has identified several areas in which the female personnel failed to perform to the level expected of them and as such could not conclusively determine whether the integration of such personnel in the tank corps was possible or desirable.
The IDF informs the court that a new, extended pilot will be conducted in the near future, one that will address the shortcomings of the first one along several axes. First, the number of female personnel participating in the pilot will be increased. Second, a minimum height of 165 cm (5’5″) and weight of 65 Kg (143 lbs) will be implemented. The IDF cuations the court that since only one quarter of all female recruits pass these bars, the pool of applicants will be rather restricted.
In addition, the new pilot, unlike the first one, will be performed at the tank corps training base where the female crews will be tested in more realistic conditions.
The IDF cautions the court that it bears the heavy responsibility of maintaining combat readiness in defense of the nation and that the first pilot did not show that female tank crews could perform at the required level. As examples, IDF cites the inability of female personnel to load shells into the main canon of the Merkavah main battle tank at the required rate, being on the average at least two and sometimes three times slower than the minimum required threshold. Female personnel were also twice as prone to injuries as compared to the male crews and required additional six weeks to complete the full basic training course that is required from all tank crews.
Finally, the IDF informed the court that since there has never been any intention to deploy female crews in the maneuvering battalions of the corps, but rather only in the ones that are deployed along the borders for stationary defense, there was no urgency to increase the pool of applicants for the tank corps at this time.