Marching as one: The men and women of Combat Intelligence

Photo: Gadi Yampel, IDF (Zahal) Spokesperson’s Unit

Male and female soldiers from the Combat Intelligence Corps marched shoulder to shoulder on their way towards completing training and receiving the coveted beret

Date: 06/10/2013, 5:54 PM     Author: IDF (Zahal) Website

Last week, the young men and women of an IDF (Zahal) Combat Intelligence Corps company marked the culmination of several months of hard training and preparation with a 17-kilometer beret march through the night.

Marching as one: The men and women of Combat Intelligence

This special, mixed-gender unit, which was established as a corps in 2000, specializes in field and combat intelligence, and is tasked with explaining the basic characteristics of the enemy’s mindset to IDF (Zahal) ground units.

More recently, the rate of female combat soldiers joining the Combat Intelligence Corps – the newest of five corps within the Ground Forces Command – has been increasing rapidly.

“The motivation of my soldiers, women and men, is still growing,” said Maj. Haim Bar, the commander responsible for training the soldiers, on the night of the beret march.

A first in military history

The IDF (Zahal) is the world’s only military to draft women for mandatory service, and currently 92 percent of positions are open to both genders.

In recent years, the IDF (Zahal) has taken great strides to increase gender equality. In 2000, it abolished its Women’s Corps, so as to allow women to serve in units throughout the IDF (Zahal) with maximal gender equality. The following year, the IDF (Zahal) established the position of Women’s Affairs Advisor to the Chief of Staff, creating an office devoted to advancing gender equality within the military.

In 2006, the Combat Intelligence Corps’ Nachshol Reconnaissance Company became the IDF (Zahal)’s – and the world’s – first company consisting entirely of female combat soldiers.

Women wishing to serve as combat intelligence soldiers undergo an arduous selection process before joining the unit. Afterwards, those who are recruited to the Nachshol Reconnaissance Company are required to sign on an additional year of service (for a total of three years) and undergo advanced training at the Combat Intelligence School.

Marching as one: The men and women of Combat Intelligence

The IDF (Zahal) continues to make strides in integrating women into combat roles.

The past decade of growth for women in combat roles has been a significant adjustment for some, but for the female soldiers, it has been a long time coming.

“It was my dream since I was 15-years-old, even before combat roles existed for girls,” Pvt. Hannah Rosenberg of South Florida explained, having just finished her training and the tough beret march.

“It’s really difficult but also the most unbelievable experience,” Pvt. Rosenberg said, adding a message to young women wishing to take on combat roles. “Do it! It’ll open up more opportunities for women.”

Pvt. Rachel Sanderlin of Cleveland, Ohio also expressed great enthusiasm for the role, though maintained that it is not for the faint of heart. “It’s really hard: 21 days in the field without showering, without proper bathrooms.” However, she added, “I’m still coming out at the end with a smile.”

Marching as one: The men and women of Combat Intelligence

The proud moment of receiving the beret is worth the arduous path to get there.

The Ohio native added her own message to future female warriors looking to join the Combat Intelligence Corps: “Just come in with the right mentality and it’ll be easy.”

“In the end, it’s giving to our country,” she concluded. “There’s no other way like it.”