Archive for the ‘Imun’ Category

Winding Down

Posted: May 6, 2012 in Guard Duty, Imun
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I can’t believe it’s come to this point. I’ve been putting off writing about this time. Just when I am really starting to feel like I’m fitting in more and am able to deal with all of the army’s problems, it’s coming to an end.

I decided to write this now (while I’m on base), around two weeks before my last days, so that I’ll have a chance to update then as well (out of the army!). I am typing on a tiny iPhone screen so please forgive any spelling and/or grammar mistakes, it’s much harder editing here than on a big shiny laptop screen!

My last post, which was dreadfully long ago, was a bit of a downer and I apologize for that. It was how I felt then though, and thinking back, I still understand why I felt that way. Maybe it’s because I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, maybe I’ve put up with enough crap up until now that it just seems normal, or maybe it’s just that the sun has finally started bronzing my pale, winter frozen skin, but I’ve finally begun feeling a little more relaxed in the army.

I know I’m impatient with others and can easily lose my cool so there have been tough times here. Sometimes I could have acted differently, but under the stressful circumstances, I’d say many of my reactions have been plenty justified. Whichever way you want to look at it, I feel much more at ease now than ever (could it be possible it’s all this herbal tea I’ve been drinking recently? [Aunt Jonnie aren’t you proud?!?])

As a bit of an update on location and what we’re doing, we finally finished our 3 months of imun (training) and have moved onto guarding the northern border of Israel with Lebanon. Won’t say where exactly, because I’m pretty sure it’s one of those things we’re not totally supposed to disclose, but let’s just say it’s on a mountain and it’s windy and cold at night.

Imun was hard. 6 of the hardest days of my life were included in imun. Our Targad (short for Targil Gdud, Battalion Drill) was lengthened from 4 days to 6, on the day we were supposed to leave. It rained 5 1/2 days of the 6. It snowed one morning. We slept one night (Shabbat). The rest was composed of trudging through mud all night resting every few hours to catch a quick 15 min cat nap. Days and some nights were drills in the field. No sleeping bags, no change of clothes and a 60 lb bag on our backs at all times (not including combat vest and gun). I could write a book about that week, so let’s just leave it at this: I have never, and never want to ever feel like I felt that week again.

Our new base is small and close knit, not like the other places we’ve been. I think this is part of the reason I’m adapting more easily here. I love all but one of the 7 other people in my room here. We’ve really started to get along great the past month and a half; sharing glasses of tea or coffee, fixing our gear together or just plain ironically being equally annoyed at the inequalities present in work loads.

I’ve hated this place for so long and now I feel like I’m going to miss it a lot when I’m done. I could sign on more time, but I know it’s not the right thing to do. I didn’t get to do everything I wanted to do here, but it still has been an interesting and memorable experience.

I’ll be happy to put down my gun, but I know I’ll miss the pride I’ve had in carrying it.

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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!!!