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MK Kahana: The price of women in combat units is higher than the benefit

CM 02/08/2021

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As the IDF continues to examine the possibility of recruiting women into various combat units once closed to them, Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana has come out against the idea saying that it would negatively affect the IDF’s goal of defeating the enemy.
“I think that the integration of women into combat field units is a mistake,” he said at the Besheva newspaper’s Jerusalem Conference, adding that “the IDF’s role is to defeat the enemy and not to advance social agendas.”
Kahana, who served as a fighter pilot, squadron commander and soldier in the elite Sayeret Matkal unit, said that while women can serve in certain roles, there are others where they would not benefit the military.
“There are places where the combination is relevant and women can make a very large contribution such as fighter pilots, but it is not similar to infantry units where there is a huge difference in the nature of the service,” he said. “Just because there could be one soldier out of a thousand who can withstand the pressure of a fighter in the Givati brigade, the price is greater than the benefit.”

Several women have petitioned the High Court of Justice to force the army to integrate women into elite combat units, including the Armored Corps, Sayeret Matkal, Shayetet 13, and other commando units like Duvdevan.
Last July the IDF said that it had formed “a professional committee with the goal of seriously and thoroughly considering — from a wide, inclusive and in-depth point of view — the possibility of integrating women into additional combat positions in the IDF.”
The committee will be led by the Head of the Ground Forces Maj.-Gen. Yoel Strick and the Head of the Southern Command Brig.-Gen. Eliezer Toledano.
That November Kahana told the Committee on the Status of Women and Gender Equality on Monday during a meeting on women’s service in the IDF and the opportunity to be accepted to all army units, that while he was not against women in battle, they do get injured far more than men.
Saying that he went to battle with women and sent women to battle “in the most dangerous places in the Middle East,” he added that nevertheless “for me, it’s not an issue, but all the studies show that mixed units do not perform as well, and women tend to get injured ten times more than men – orthopedic injuries, and others. I ask, how many women will have to be severely injured to create this equality?”
Last month 15 female combat fighters made history by being deployed to the Egyptian border as part of an ongoing program to assess whether or not to integrate women into the IDF’s Armored Corps.
The company of all-female tank operators has been deployed to serve under the command of the Paran Brigade and serve as tank operators in the mixed-gender Caracal Battalion.
They will operate Merkava IV tanks after they completed their training at the IDF’s Armored Corps School at the Shizafon base in the Negev desert where they learned how to operate tanks. The 15 fighters finished advanced training as part of a fresh pilot program launched by the IDF to assess if women should serve in tanks after the initial trial was deemed inconclusive. 

The second pilot program is at least twice the size of the previous one and the military has increased the height and weight requirements of women who want to take part in the program and expanded the time that women will be deployed to carry out operational missions along the borders with Egypt and Jordan.  Source: Jerusalem Post

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