Field Week

Posted: May 6, 2011 in Basic Training, Tzanchanim
Tags: , , , , ,

It’s been another 2 weeks on base and the last week felt especially long, although technically being shorter, which clearly needs some explaining. I was stuck in a field with 4-5 hours to sleep each night and nothing to eat but manot krav (combat rations). The food IMHO really isn’t all that bad, you get several cans of tuna, a can of tuna salad, corn, beans, canned fruit, some random orange stuff which I still don’t know what it is, ketchup, mustard, jelly, chocolate spread and bread. The problem for me was the amount of time given to eat… First off you have 12 or so ravenous guys trying to grab anything they can get their grimy hands on, secondly you have to open half the cans (the other half have pull tabs, why they all don’t have this is beyond me!), thirdly we had to have 4 guys guarding while we were  eating so you need to switch on an off eating, and finally, fourthly if you’re me and everyone in my Kita (squad), you get less time than everyone else to eat. Most other Kitot (squads) got 15-20 minutes to eat. We would only get between 10-15 minutes because my mefaked is psychotic and thinks we’re in a special forces unit, but more on that in a later specialized blog post called “My Commander is Batshit Crazy”.

Field week was interesting to say the very least. I have barely any skin left on the heels of my feet because I was wearing boots for 4 1/2 days straight. I took them off once to change my socks half way though. It’s an weird  feeling not changing your socks… slowly but surely your sweat builds up into a sort of natural slimy lubricant for your feet. As disgusting as this sounds, it probably is some form of human evolution to sweat a lot from your feet when walking long distances – but I digress. We would walk/march/jog for half an hour or so and then “rest” during our lessons that we had. The lessons (at least the parts I understood) were about different formations and bunkers you can build in the wilderness. The formations part was pretty cool, and was easy for me to pick up considering it had nothing to do with Hebrew proficiency. Having been in the marching band in high school (no, it was nothing like Drumline), I felt like my good ole snare drum had been replaced by a M16A1 and I was in the army! oh shit almost forgot about that last part…

The first night we got to sleep in a tent! How exciting, a nice, cozy tent…with holes everywhere. It was a bit chilly at night considering we didn’t have sleeping bags and were just sleeping in our uniforms with our combat vests as pillows… oh what’s that? a nice soft magazine full of bullets for a head rest? oh joy! We did get one scratchy wool blanket to share between two people so that was nice spooning with my partner Tal for the night. I’d say we slept about 30 minutes before getting woken up by gunshots (blanks) and screaming everywhere. We had to get up, put on our vests and have a simulated gunfight outside. Then it was time to sleep another 2 hours or so before I had to guard for 20 minutes. Another 2 hours later and I was up for the day. A whole day of drills and marching, and crawling later we arrived at our second location for sleeping.

hiking... (we have some girl that takes pictures sometimes now, which is great for me!)

The second night we slept on the side of a hill. Quite literally we carried our packs up a hill, stopped in a random spot and our commander said go to sleep. I had the first guarding shift of the night and was straining to keep my heavy eyelids open. Finally I got to lay down and sleep. Waking up to the sun in my eyes and ants crawling on me I realized I was officially in field week. The days were all the same: march here, crawl there, listen to this, eat this really fast. Let’s just say the only times we stopped moving was when we got new orders or had a lesson to learn. This particular day we got to build an “emdah esh” (roughly translated as a “firing bunker”). It’s basically a bunker you dig out that’s used as a firing position. It’s dug down deep enough so that you can’t be hit by incoming fire, and has large rocks surrounding the outside where in a few spots you can aim your gun out and fire if needed. My “chulia” (literally “link”, but really translates as squad “sub-division”) of 6 guys built one big enough for all of us to be in. It took over an hour of digging, carrying rocks and uprooting plants to be used as camouflage. It was the most fun I had all day!

The third night we slept in our bunkers that we had made during the day and also had to guard throughout the night. I had a half hour shift on the radio which was actually quite fun because we got our commanders night vision goggles which I played with for almost the entire half hour. I really want a pair. I also had to “guard” for an hour in the bunker – that was a joke, as soon as I started guarding I passed out. Luckily I had set an alarm for the next person. After talking to everyone else the next day, apparently everyone slept during our guard sessions, it was impossible not to. The following morning we did a lot of the same again, but in the afternoon there was a crazy heat wave and they wouldn’t let us do anything for nearly an hour and a half. That was a GREAT nap time. P.S. just to show how hot it was these days, a couple kids got sick and one kid went into shock from being so dehydrated. Late in the afternoon we built something of a “surveillance point” – I don’t remember the name in Hebrew. Lots of bushes for camouflage, not as deep as the firing pit, and covered by a mesh screen so you can see out but people have a difficult time seeing in. Again, pretty cool stuff – that is until we abandoned our point because a snake was in it.

The fourth night was our “Layla Lavan” or “White Night”. It’s basically a sleepless night of marching and testing. We marched all over the wilderness stopping at different points and being tested on all the things we learned the last several days. We had things like a simulated ambush across a road, information gathering, lost personnel, firing formations, first aid testing, crawling, and basically just tons of walking up and down hills all night. The last thing we did was have a 1KM race against all the other squads back to base. The catch is that we were carrying a stretcher with one of our guys on it. A few minute later and gasping for air we arrived back on base for the first time in 4 1/2 days.

We were told that we had an hour of free time to shower and whatever we need to do. About 20 minutes later though (and after some people had showered already) they were screaming for everyone to be back and ready in uniform with vest on. We went for a short walk/jog of around 1-1.5 KM and then did pushups, situps and sprints for around half an hour. After this we were told to polish our shoes and be outside in formation. An extremely long speech from our brigade’s commander later of which I paid zero attention to because I was putting all my effort into not falling over from exhaustion we were handed our first bit of army pride for our dog tags:

holder for my dog tags 🙂

In my free time I’ve been sleeping, eating, drinking beer, getting annoyed with my “adopted parents” here in Israel, being with my girlfriend and sleeping more. I’ve also been looking for a new iPhone so I can be a bit more connected while I’m on base and possibly start trading some stocks again? Not sure if that’s a terrible idea or not, but I figure I have time to make a trade a day and could maybe make a little cash on the side of the measly pocket money the army is giving me. Also I’m uploading new music to one of my old ventures again over at Seen At The Scene, so check that out if you like new music (mostly club/dubstep/electro stuff). Tonight I’m going to Supersal (a big supermarket here) to spend my 120 shekels (40 bucks or so) that the army gives me every month to buy whatever the hell I want. I’m also gonna go see “Thor” in theatres. Just trying to be a normal person here! Peace out from the Middle East.

Advertisements
Comments
  1. Bob says:

    Dear Jonathan,

    Your ability to write of your difficult experiences with such good humor is amazing. I would not want to fool with you when your training is complete. You are obviously turning into an soldier of skill which is what a potential warrior need become. May it never be necessary to use your skills in war. Everyone prays for peace and may G-d hear our prayers.

    We love and miss you. Hope to Skype with you again soon and love to your beautiful young lady friend and your comrades in arms.

    Bob & Gail

    • Thanks to both of you! Last night we did a crazy hike that I was designated to carry the “water bag”. I’m pretty sure it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done… My back hurts and legs are sore, but everything in hindsight is a great experience. I like writing about it to make sure I don’t forget the little details years from now…

      definitely will find time to skype again sometime soon!

  2. gail says:

    dear jonathon,
    i am very proud of you. what you are doing is amazing. and you write well. (post army career)
    ilyvm, gail

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s