A Warrior?

Posted: February 17, 2012 in Imun, Tzanchanim
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Sikat Lochem (Warrior's Pin)

As of yesterday, I’m a Soldier, a Fighter and/or a Warrior. Or at least that’s what the pin on my uniform says. The Sikat Lochem (Lit. Warrior’s/Fighter’s/Soldier’s Pin) is given to soldiers after they complete their “Maslool” or Course. This course encompasses all of basic training, advanced training, sitting on kav (border guard duty) and for us in my unit also some more imun (training). I personally don’t feel any different, nor do I feel any more like a soldier now than I did two days ago. Maybe that’s just my own mind being accustomed to the things we do every day. It’s totally normal for me to go sleep outside for 3 days at a time, shoot a hundred bullets in 20 minutes and run up and down hills all day.

Am I what I thought I would be over a year ago? That’s a difficult question to answer. I’ve done things I never thought possible (ie. Masa Koomta, our 65 KM hike to get our Beret’s), but then I’ve also done some of the most mundane tasks ever (ie. washing dishes for 15 hours).

Am I some super soldier running around like Rambo? Definitely not, but I think it’s been a good experience over all, even if there was a lot of stressful times and just plain wasted times…

I only have a few months left, and like I just recently explained to my Mefaked Pluga (Company Commander) in a closed meeting at the beginning of the week, I really don’t have any reason to sign more time. I explained to him that I wasn’t offered any interesting courses to learn more, and I haven’t had a real tafkeed (job) in the army. I’m just a simple soldier (chapash). The Negev machine gun that I had been trained on was eventually given to someone else in my squad and I never got trained on anything else. I explained to him that I wasn’t being treated the way I had been promised and that I was growing tired of the lackadaisical attitude of both the other soldiers and of the mefakdim (commanders).

While in this meeting he kept saying how he understood where I was coming from and that he was upset to hear how I felt and how I was being treated, but meanwhile he repeatedly checked his phone during the conversation. I understand he’s a busy guy (in charge of over 100 soldiers), but if you’re going to try to tell me you care… put down your damn cell phone for 15 minutes. He wanted me to see the big picture he kept repeating, which is the problem… I do see the big picture, and I see that it’s flawed.

I say all this because I feel like I’ve been stuck in a rut and I can’t get out. I just made aliyah and all my mefaked had to say was “great, now get back to base” instead of the “Mazel Tov! Congratulations!!!” I was expecting. Side story: I met a friend at Nefesh B’Nefesh also making aliyah at the same time. I overheard her conversation with her commander in karakal (the unisex combat battalion), and her commander was ecstatic and happy and had no problem with her coming back to base the next morning instead of rushing back that night. So hopefully you can see why I’m a bit down.

Adding to this whole situation while everyone else was taking a month long course for an advanced rocket system, I was in the kitchen and doing guard duty with just 6 other people. Then this past week and next week I’ll be in the field with a different machlakah (platoon) than my own. The reason for this? They don’t have enough people and they need someone who hasn’t taken the course that everyone else did… so basically I’m just getting screwed over again. After this weekend we will be closing 21 days on base, something everyone said would never happen during imun (training). Everyone said we’d be getting out most weekends, and now we’ve been closing most… To add to that, we’ll be in the field every week of these 21 days.

Shetach, The Field. Where we Eat, Sleep, and Walk in the blistering cold.

We've finished training! Now we're allowed to light our tuna on fire to make it taste better!!!

We had one nice day last week – our Tiul Sof Maslool (End of Course trip). We traveled around the Golan Heights a bit to a bunker overlooking Syria and heard some old war tales. And then went on a really nice hike to the river El-Al (yes, like the airline), and finally ended the day with a couple hours at Hamat Gadar, a built up establishment with natural hot sulfur water. As amazingly relaxing as it was at the end of the day, all I could think about was how 202, and 890 (the other battalions) both got 3 day trips… and we got 1 day. Sorry for the pessimism.

View on the way to the river at the bottom

went swimming in that water for about 30 seconds... WOW IT WAS COLD!

I hate to sound like such a depressed “shavooz” person, but that’s where I’m at right now. I’m just trying to get what I have to do done, and carry on. I’ve started drinking more coffee during the day from my nice new Pakal Cafe (coffee kit) I got from NBN which helps quite a bit 🙂

Seriously... Thank you Nefesh B'Nefesh - this gets me through my day.

As I think about the beer I’m going to drink later tonight I smile and hope that the coming very difficult weeks will pass quickly and without too many stress wrinkles forming on my forehead… A toast from my fraternity in Buffalo which seems fitting for the people around me and the situation I’m in:

Here’s to you, Here’s to me, Friends forever we shall be, But if we ever, Cease to be, F&CK YOU, Here’s to me!!!

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Comments
  1. larry lieberman says:

    Jonathan,

    I love you, and understand your comments, complaints, and overall pessimism about the system and how it works. But, if you don’t complain or voice your opinion, nothing will come of it. Open up, ask to speak with superiors, let the system know. Speak with the Lone soldier program supervisors. Karen Feit from Avodah knows a well connected person within the program. It may be a futile attempt, but possibly not as well. Rise up and make your voice heard, they should see it as your attempt at leadership, a fine quality to have!

    We love you,

    Dad

    • oh don’t worry, I’ve started voicing my opinions… just trying not to too much. It’ll end up with me getting in trouble. But I’m for sure annoyed with the system and think it could be run much more professionally. Will be talking to people more outside of my direct unit so that it doesn’t affect my treatment over the next few months…

  2. Robert J. Paltrow says:

    Well, a heartfelt congratulations from a former infantry paratrooper to you. Truly, from the bottom of my heart; understanding your commander and such, you are better served in the long run for having lived through it. Take that as a learning and be a better leader. You will be one.

    It’s an eye opener isn’t it, that military service. Well done!

    • Thanks for the ups!

      I definitely know that in the future I’ll be better for what I’ve learned, for what I’ve gone through here. It’s just hard in the present time of course!

      Cheers from another winged soldier!

  3. Steve says:

    ok…enough….you get to feel shitty once in a while, but you don’t make decisions because of your commander. He’s not the one that should be influencing you on your life..how old is he? and what does he know about your life?….nada. Take a look at the larger picture. Your a combat solider in the Israeli army and not all is rosy. So they gave the negev away to someone else… yea i get that its prestigious, and fun to shoot and all, but your fukin paratrooper, that means you should have a bit more of a backbone, Stick around….you’ll do milliyim and you’ll discover the real IDF. The IDF where the commanders and soldiers work as a unit each with their own responsibilities, each being part of a very cohesive machine and yes if you really want the negev, you can ask and ask again, and you will get it…

    Steve
    Nahal 1979-1980
    combat soldier: Palsar 460 פלס”ר

    • Cheers man,

      Feels good to hear some true words from someone who’s been there before. I like the army in general, it’s just my current set of commanders and officers that have been getting on my nerves. I’d like to experience what it is to be a reserve here in Israel… First I have to finish!

      I’m assuming I’d be called up for miluim within a year of finishing so I gotta get my travelling outta the way in the mean time. I have some plans setup for after the army. We’ll see how much works out and how much doesn’t.

      I’m still hanging on, don’t worry, it’s not like I’m about to drop to a job or anything like that!!!

      cheers,

      Jon
      Tzanchan 2010-2012

      • Steve says:

        i forgot to add…the negev in milliyim is usually a piece of shit, so you might get to carry the mag instead… always an experience one never forgets.

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