Infantry: Russia Returns to Female Snipers


December 24, 2023: In Ukraine Russia is reviving the World War II practice of employing women as snipers and, since this is the 21st Century, UAV operators as well. For service in Ukraine, qualified Russian women can make at least $1,200 a month. That’s a lot of money in contemporary Russia. Russian forces are suffering heavy casualties in Ukraine and are recruiting women for jobs that, in the past, women have been good at and willing to undertake in a combat zone.

This is not the first time Russia has employed women in combat roles. Before Germany invaded in 1941 Russia had a number of all female tank battalions. Most of the Russian tank force was destroyed in the first months of the war and, as the tank force was rebuilt, surviving all-female units were disbanded as there were plenty of other combat and combat support jobs for women. That included traffic control along roads and snipers. Women proved particularly good at both jobs.

Other countries were less accepting of using women in any combat jobs. In Israel, there has long been pressure from conservative Jewish clergy who wanted women to be barred from combat jobs, while Arab radicals are urging more women to get involved in terrorism operations, including suicide bombings. Most Israelis are not conservative Jews and more focused on survival rather than conservative interpretations of Jewish scripture. Moreover, female troops have an easier time dealing with Moslem women, many of whom consider it a religious obligation to avoid dealing men they are not related to.

In the past religious differences were much less of a factor. During World War II over five million women served in the military worldwide. Although they suffered fewer losses than the men, several hundred thousand did die. These women were often exposed to combat, especially when fighting as guerillas operating anti-aircraft guns and early warning systems in Russia, Germany, and Britain. Russia also used women as combat medics, traffic cops near the front line, as snipers, and as combat pilots. They, especially the Russians, tried using them as tank crews and regular infantry, but that didn’t work out, a historical lesson lost on current proponents. Russian women were most frequently employed in medical and other support jobs. The few who served as snipers or pilots were very good at it. Israel has learned from that and the men who comprise half the strength of the three Caracal battalions tend to agree that the women volunteers are more eager and into their jobs than the male conscripts. The Caracal battalions are used for border security and border patrol. Their personnel are armed and trained to use their weapons, mainly for self-defense. Many of them died on October 7, 2023, during the Hamas offensive.




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