Meet the Women of Israel’s elite combat intelligence unit and the Organization backing them

A new IDF combat intelligence unit can reach places keyboard warriors can’t. The soldiers don’t just bring the technology to the front, they also operate it. Inside enemy territory, or close to it, they are tasked with accomplishing what developers and programmers cannot do from afar.

The increasing need for high-caliber manpower led to the second decision, made in 2017, to recruit women into the unit. This path was paved, first and foremost, by the success of women in other combat units in the IDF: Around 50 percent of the army’s air-defense controllers and the Home Front Command’s search and rescue battalions (which perform the brunt of routine operations in Judea and Samaria) are women, and this is also the case in the mixed-gender battalions that defend the borders—Caracal, Lions of the Jordan and Bardelas.

This success led to more and more women seeking service in a combat capacity. Today, the demand among female recruits for positions in the field is extremely high. The most sought after position, as usual, is instructor—but combat positions aren’t lagging far behind. Some of the women who possess the requisite technical skills lack the physical profile for combat duty, or the motivation (unlike men, Israeli women must ask to serve in a combat role), and some would rather serve in more prominent units and capacities.

This amplifies the challenge facing the unit even more: Find the women with talent, sort through them, make sure they want to be combat soldiers and then put them through a doubly arduous training process: technological and combat. Only several dozen women have completed this training since the unit opened its doors to women.

‘Mature decision makers’

Even if you look closely, you won’t find the role of “8200 combat intelligence” on the list of available positions for women in the army’s brochures. Nor will you find it on the Meitav website, which provides information to young men and women prior to enlistment.

Female recruits with the potential to serve in the unit are tapped due to their high “Quality Group” score (which summarizes the results from personal interviews and computer-generated psycho-technical test results) and tend to be graduates of science-oriented tracks in high school. Some of them reach the unit after being dropped from other prestigious courses, such as pilot’s course and the naval academy course.

Although the female company works separately from the male one, the unit makes sure each mission is assigned to the soldiers most suited to it skills-wise. Hence the women must be prepared for any type of mission on any front. Both companies, male and female, work simultaneously, and when the need arises go on joint missions. That said, women represent just 15 percent of all the soldiers in the unit.

One criterion for selecting a soldier for a given mission is physical. For missions involving very long marches with heavy equipment, for example, male soldiers will almost always be selected. Conversely, women are better suited for other missions.

Capt. A (24) joined the unit two years ago from an elite infantry unit. She was born to parents who immigrated from Russia and grew up in Haifa, the middle child of three daughters.

“It wasn’t obvious to my dad that his daughters would enlist in the army,” she said. “Because I volunteered with Magen David Adom [emergency responders] in high school, I had planned to do a paramedics’ course and continue on to medical school.”

However, a few weeks before her enlistment, she chose a different path.

“Inspired and encouraged by my boyfriend, who was a new immigrant who enlisted for combat service, I decided to do something different, which I could never do in civilian life. I began to investigate the world of combat duty for women, and I went to the tryouts for Caracal. My father took it very hard. But once he realized what it was all about and saw the reactions, he was behind it full throttle. He told me, ‘aim high.’”

What many people don’t realize is that IDF soldiers go on leave far more often than most other armies do with many leaving the base every weekend. When that happens, the LIBI organization is there to assist them with all their non-work related needs. This includes apartments stocked with toiletries and food so that hard-working Israeli warriors don’t need to spend their little time away from base shopping (when they should be resting).

Other incredible activities that LIBI offers include educational, religious, social and recreational activities not covered in the IDF’s defense budget. 

Not only are their important initiatives not covered in Israel’s defense budget, but LIBI doesn’t even get a shekel from the Israeli government. 

Believe it or not, LIBI gets all of their funding from private donors who want Israel’s military to be strong.

Can you help support an IDF soldier by donating to the LIBI organization?

If the answer is yes, please consider donating to LIBI today.

Israel in the News