Meet the religious female combat soldiers who simulate Hizballah on the battlefield
Six students from Midreshet Lindenbaum have joined the Tactical Simulation Unit that became operational a year ago as part of a special track | The key reason for the track: its meaningful, classified service in an all-female unit
Yishai Elmakies, Kipa News 18/01/2022
Approximately two weeks ago Kipa reported on the establishment of a women-only combat platoon with the support of the heads of the midrashot (post-high school seminaries for religious women), who claimed that the establishment of this gendered unit will make it easier for many religious female soldiers interested in combat service. The heads of the midrashot further noted that they would recommend serving in the unit to their students.
We can now reveal that, for the first time, in a slightly older all-girls unit that many in the IDF refer to as “the most ‘combat’ unit in the field of combat support”, there is a new track that is expected to grow, in which a considerable number of religious midrasha graduates are currently serving.
Six young women from Midreshet Lindenbaum, part of the Ohr Torah Stone network, currently serve in the Red Unit. They are there for two reasons: their desire to engage in a meaningful national service; and the gender makeup of the unit, comprised solely of females. The women serving in this unit are expected to continue to a commander training course, and even the officer training course, returning afterward to positions of command in the unit, thereby paving the way for more Religious Zionist girls to join the platoon in which the percentage of religious female soldiers is particularly high, especially in light of the nature of the position.
“I took part in the establishment of the Red Unit track,” Rabbi Ohad Teharlev, director of Midreshet Lindenbaum’s Israeli programs told Kipa News. “The IDF is meeting all the understandings we’ve reached: from skirts to schedules, prayers and all that is required and challenging on the ground. They even enabled me to give the young women a shiur in the field, and now I come to the Tze’elim training base to do so every two weeks,” he said.
“These days, I refer any girl who wants to engage in a combat service to this unit,” Teharlev underscores. “I hope this platoon will be women-only in every sense, including its commanders. The Red Unit is a good solution for the young religious women who are seeking to perform combat service.”
What is the Red Unit?
“The Reds”, as IDF slang calls them, were set up in April 2020 and are subordinate to the Tactical Simulation Unit. Their role is to train the IDF combat units for various scenarios – vis-à-vis Hamas on the southern front, and Hizballah on the northern one – by simulating the enemy itself. To become a “red” and get accepted to the unit, women must undergo Bootcamp 03 as well as a designated training course lasting approximately three and a half months on the unit’s base in Tze’elim, which includes, beyond basic shooting practices and fieldcraft, field training as well as enemy staging and simulation studies.
The unit became operational about a year ago, and has since participated in more than 20 joint exercises – “an exercise every other week,” say unit commanders. It has also collaborated with many IDF units, recently conducting a joint exercise with the Red Squadron. Before each exercise, the young women review intelligence material of the kind relevant to the enemy they are to simulate. “The IDF wants us to help,” they say in the unit, explaining that the 98th Division, which includes the Commando Brigade and reserve paratrooper brigades, is being assisted by the Red Unit, inter alia in exercises held outside Israel.
The unit is considered especially large, and is estimated at 100 combat soldiers in two training companies, four conscript companies, and an additional HQ company. The female combat soldiers are also expected to continue serving in the unit on reserve duty. The main reason why this unit was established is that the IDF realized it needed a professional force to simulate enemies in exercises, making it more difficult for the training units, but preparing them in the best way possible for when the time comes.
Red rank insignia and special weapons
The “Reds” learn, become more sophisticated, and try to challenge the combat soldiers as much as possible. Before each exercise they perform an entire battle procedure specific to the scenario and force in question. Their weapons have been developed uniquely for them in order to fully simulate the relevant enemy, so M-16 and Tavor rifles are not part of their arsenal. Two additional unique attributes are the unit’s camouflage-patterned field dress, and the unit commanders’ red insignia ranks.
Only females join the young unit, allowing young religious women to serve within it; however, a small number of young men, primarily officers with background in border protection, continue to serve in the unit at this stage. The Red Unit aims to have all its commanders rise from within in just a few years’ time.
Prospective soldiers are not required to undergo any specific screening processes in order to reach the Red Unit, nor give a special statement, but they must have a medical profile number of 72 or more, as well as a high score on the Preferences Questionnaire (Manilla) for the role of “enemy force simulator.”