For the first time in the history of the Israel Air Force, a woman has been named deputy commander of an operational squadron. Maj. Gal, whose last name was not disclosed, will serve as second-in-command of the Nachshon Squadron at the Nevatim base. The promotion makes her the highest-ranking woman ever in the IAF. in the Israeli air force to date.
Previously, women have been deputy commanders of support squadrons only, which are considered less prestigious. Maj. Since graduating from a course for transport pilots in 2006, Maj. Gal has served as an instructor at the IAF’s flight school in Hatzerim and, most recently, as deputy commander of the Air Kings support squadron, which operates out of the Sde Dov base.
“Maj. Gal was selected on the basis of her qualifications and achievements, and we believe she will be an excellent combat squadron deputy commander,” Nevatim base commander Brig. Gen. Lihu Hacohen was quoted as saying on an IAF website. He added that her promotion was an important milestone for the base and the air force as a whole. Last year Maj. was awarded a certificate of excellence by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon.
In the past several months there have been other precedent-setting appointments of women in the Israel Defense Forces. After completing her studies at the IDF General Staff College, Lt. Col. Oshrat Bachar became the first woman to command a combat battalion — the Eitam field intelligence battalion, which is attached to the army’s Southern Command. And this summer Capt. Efrat Kaikov became the first female battalion commander in the Artillery Corps, in the corps’ meteorology unit.
According to IDF figures as of 2013, 2.9 percent of women soldiers doing compulsory service serve in combat units. The number of female combat soldiers increased by around 500 2012 and 2014. According to army figures for this year, about 2,200 female combat soldiers are on active duty, mainly in the Home Front Command, the Border Police, the Caracal combat infantry brigade and the air defense system.
Last week female soldiers were inducted to serve in the second mixed battalion after the Caracal Battalion. Called Arayot Hayarden (Lions of the Jordan), the battalion will have approximately equal numbers of male and female soldiers and will carry out security duties in the Jordan Valley and nearby areas.