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IDF’s ‘Red Unit’: All-female unit challenging troops before they go to war

CM 10/10/2021

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Over a year since the IDF’s first all-female special forces “Red Unit” was opened, troops are busy challenging forces from all units in the military for war against enemies like Hezbollah and Hamas.
Formed in April 2020, soldiers from the Red Unit pretend to be the enemy in order to better prepare troops to defend against offensive attacks.
The troops learn at Tzehelim military base in southern Israel, which has unique, large-scale urban warfare training facilities complete with mock terror tunnels and other enemy infrastructure. 
Troops from the unit have undergone four months of specialized training, including intensive studies on the enemies that surround Israel, specifically the threat posed by Hezbollah. The soldiers also have intelligence briefings and reviews where they are updated on what is happening on various fronts in order to constantly update their combat methods.
“Our job is to challenge the troops and act like the enemy,” said Sergeant R. “It’s important that our troops have the most realistic drills. So we learn about the enemy in order to know how they fight and to find solutions.”
“We switch uniforms and really get into the drill where we really feel like we are the enemy,” she said, adding that it’s important that they “feel like them and think like them.”
She told The Jerusalem Post that they hold drills in the middle of the night and inside tunnels.

Soldiers from the IDF’s “Red Unit” (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)Soldiers from the IDF’s “Red Unit” (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON’S UNIT)

According to St.-Sgt. M, because the unit is relatively new, male combat troops had a hard time going up against the women in drills.
“They didn’t always respect us and what we did,” she said of the first drills. But now, “because we are women challenging them they really respect us and have told us how the work we are doing is important for them.” 
M told the Post that during one drill with troops from the 12th and 13th Golani battalions, they came unprepared to the drill.
“I was really disappointed,” M said, adding that she started to question whether or not her role was meaningful at all.
So she went to a reserve company commander who was taking part in the drill and had taken part in a military operation, “and he said to me had I done this drill with you a few years ago, then many fighters wouldn’t have died. That’s when I understood how important my role was, and while the drill wasn’t as good as I had hoped it would be, I understood how important it was.”
Another drill with the armored corps and Golani “was physically and mentally the most challenging drill. It was the best. We spent three days in the field and challenged the troops. And they respected us for it.”
According to R, when they aren’t busy drilling with troops who can be from the elite Shayetet 13 to troops from the Golani or Paratrooper brigades, the women of the Red Unit are busy studying Israel’s enemies in order to understand how best to plan a future drill for troops based on their fighting strategy. 
While there could be three drills in a week or one that lasts several months, other times there could be weeks with no drills at all.
Either way, “it’s hard, both physically and mentally since you don’t have a lot of time to rest,” she said.
R, who made aliyah from Finland, was one of the first to be recruited into the unit, and though she is set to be discharged in the coming months, she’s really happy in having served in it.
“When I first heard of the position I didn’t really know what it was about, it just sounded really interesting and I wanted to try it. Now I’m really happy that I did, it’s really interesting but it’s also really important and challenging.”

Source: Jerusalem Post

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