Captain Adi Vardi always dreamed of becoming a combat soldier. She rose through the ranks of the IDF’s air defense system and eventually took command of an anti-aircraft battery. Her work is proof that women play a critical role in protecting Israel.
“From the very beginning, I wanted to be a combat soldier,” Vardi says of her IDF service. “The combination between physical work and critical thinking really intrigued me.” Vardi’s aspirations led her to enlist in the IDF’s Air Defense Command, the apparatus that protects Israeli civilians from rockets, enemy aircraft and other threats. “I felt that this was the place that would allow me to contribute the most to Israel and challenge me.”
Combat Soldier at Heart
Vardi joined a battery of the MIM-23 Hawk anti-aircraft system, but was injured while operating the battery with other soldiers. The military temporarily released Vardi from service, but she was determined to continue her path in the IDF. A few months later, she returned to the military and enrolled in the Air Defense Commanders Course. She excelled and later took command of a Hawk battery in Eilat, a popular Israeli destination for tourists.
Vardi feels a deep sense of dedication to her work, and says her job is always meaningful. “We protect so many people–in Eilat and in Israel in general. We allow people to sleep soundly at night, because they know someone is watching over them. Our biggest challenge is to remain alert 24 hours a day, everyday, and to be the first ones there when something happens,” she says.
“This is a job everyone dreams of. I wake up every morning, and I feel thankful for the opportunity to be here. The combination of operational activity, working with soldiers and the importance of our job makes my work incredibly satisfying,” she says.
Women in the IDF
“Today, more and more women are integrated into positions throughout the military. It shows that they can do anything just as well as men. Here, everything is equal,” she explains about life in the Air Defense Command. “There are many female battery commanders and combat soldiers. Many women want to progress to senior positions.”
Female cadets training to become Infantry Instructors prepare outside their tent in the Negev with their equipment for a “War Week”—an intensive week of drills simulating a war situation. The week is an integral part of the Infantry Instructors’ course and one of the most difficult weeks for cadets.
The Air Defense Command has a large population of women. Female soldiers in the unit undergo the same training as men do. “We train together, so we don’t feel different,” Vardi explains. “Women don’t expect to be treated differently.”
This article has been reprinted with the permission of the IDF Blog.