The Israel Defense Forces declared its pilot program of all-female tank crews a success on Thursday, hours before four of the participants were due to complete the Armored Corps’ tank commanders course.
“The training process was a success, from both an instructional and an operational perspective. The soldiers achieved all the goals set for them,” said Lt. Col. Benny Aharon, the head of command training in the Armored Corps.
The pilot program was designed to see if women could make up the four-person crews necessary to operate a tank in “routine security operations” within Israel’s borders or just beyond them if necessary — not in wars or in fighting behind deep enemy lines.
Until now, women have been barred from serving in the tank brigades as it was believed that they could not physically handle the rigors of the Armored Corps. Female soldiers have, however, served as tank instructors.
The pilot program has faced considerable criticism since it was announced in November 2016, with former commanders of the IDF’s Armored Corps railing against the plan and calling it a conspiracy by left-wing “freaks” to weaken the military. Others, however, have lauded the program as a necessary corrective….
While the pilot program was deemed a success, Aharon stressed that it was a trial with a limited scope.
For instance, he said, there is a disadvantage to using all-female crews, namely that if one or two of the members are injured, they can only be replaced by other women, not by male tank operators, of whom there are far more.
“We practiced if one of the female soldiers is injured or killed and how they will deal with it. And they did it well,” he said….