Maj. Karin Ovadia is a maritime regional control commander serving at the Haifa Naval base
My job entails managing, controlling and regulating all the marine activity between the cities of Rosh Hanikra and Hadera. Most IDF naval forces are concentrated in the Haifa area: submarines, missile boats, and the naval commando unit, Shayetet 13. Our operations room is staffed 24 hours a day providing assistance and responding to every event that occurs at sea.
In addition, we are the hub of all information and data reported from commanders operating in the area.
Before I enlisted I was offered the role of maritime control operator, I passed a lot of screenings and I really wanted the job. I was accepted and then chose to become an officer. After I finished officers' course, I realized this was something I wanted to keep doing and stay on the maritime control track. I kept moving up the ranks until the army gave me the option to sign for an additional 8 years and complete a bachelor’s degree. From the moment I left for the officer’s course I knew I wanted to stay in the army as long as I could. When I was the commander of the outpost I knew I made the right decision because I felt this tremendous satisfaction from commanding over 50 soldiers at the age of 23.
The best part of the job is the satisfaction of being able to see the impact the job has on your soldiers. I believe the army is a lot like 12th grade, the last time you can have an effect on soldiers before they become civilians. I see it as the opportunity to become familiar with the soldiers and have an impact on them. In the end, every Israeli looks back on their military service, and I’m a big part of that service. It is very gratifying to help the soldiers and try to advance them.
What bothers me as commander is the exhaustion. There are always alerts and events and we need to be ready for anything at all times. Every night I sleep with all my phones next to me, and I know that there are people who can reach me at any time. It means to always be alert, and that is really difficult.
Last year I flew to Poland as part of the “Witnesses in Uniform" delegation. I had been a part of a similar delegation during high school, but going as an army officer in uniform is an entirely different experience. We were a “March of the Living,” and the head of the delegation marched with a Torah scroll that was dedicated to the Memory of Ilan and Assaf Ramon.
We marched in cold and in rain, officers from every unit in the IDF, and in front marched two soldiers with Israeli flags. I said to myself, who would have thought that 60 years ago there were Nazis on this earth and today here we are representing a Jewish state’s army. It was an amazing experience I’ll carry with me forever.
My family is very supportive and understanding, they give me strength. There are many times that I had plans to do things or meet people, but had to cancel at the last minute because of an event at the maritime control, and in such cases they always understand.
I am the first woman to serve as the commander of the maritime control unit in Haifa. Because it is a large and sensitive area they decided the role demanded an officer with life experience. So it took me a while to get used to the masculine environment, but I’m sorry to say to all the men that this is a job a woman can do even better. Both the administrative work, and working with the female soldiers who make up a majority of the control room. I think giving me the opportunity to do this job opened the door for a lot of other women who will successfully follow in my footsteps.