Posts Tagged ‘Training’

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 ­čÖé

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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So after a little over a week of being in the army and having two weekends off (since we started on a Wednesday) I’ve finally begun to get into the groove of how everything works. Bakum ended up being EXACTLY like what everyone told me it would be like. Four shots of who know’s what immunizations that made my arm sore for two days, lots of pictures, X-rays and fingerprints. All the imaging was for in case we get some random part of our body blown off – which is pretty much the exact words they used when I asked what it was for… very comforting. We received ID card’s and dog tags, but obviously only after a bajillion more questions that I’ve already answered numerous times before. Bakum was just a long day of BLAAHHHHH. Beyond all the tedious tasks, I did meet some cool people that day that I still see around and talk to at the base, so the time there wasn’t a complete waste. The next week, starting on Sunday morning, was when everything really started up.

My Hebrew obviously isn’t anywhere near sufficient to be a soldier but it’s growing by leaps and bounds everyday.┬áKnowing that the little area in my brain called the┬áleft temporal lobe is terrible at┬ácomprehending┬álanguage I’ve been surprised by how quickly I’m picking up words and sayings. From a young age I’ve always been terrible with language; I couldn’t tell the difference between a “b” and “d” – true story. The schools also told my parents to stop teaching me Swedish because I couldn’t tell the difference between Swedish and English – true story. Knowing this, I still jumped off the high dive into the Israeli Army instead of the US Army. I’m what you’d call a “mefager” in hebrew – a damned retard.

I'm too sexy... I'm too sexy... I'm too sexy for my beret?

Speaking of the US Army – I realize now that I would completely dominate it. Other than my lack of Hebrew skill I’m excelling beyond nearly everyone else at every other aspect of the Army. Our first physical test I maxed out the push ups and sit-ups. I came in 4th in the 2 km run. 76 push ups, 88 sit-ups and about a 9 minute run later I felt like I could do it all over again. Taking apart our M-16 A1 I had no problem taking it apart and┬áreassembling it in under a minute and a half. Clearly I realize I’m tooting my own horn a bit, but for those of you who know me – that’s not something new. The Army has humbled me quiet a bit however, mostly due to my lack of language skills. I need to listen more than speak and I rely more on my skill of understanding than my skill of smack talk. Smack talk is reserved for Adam – my friend, army pal and blog nemesis. Adam if you’re reading this, your blog sucks – come to the dark side.

The M-16 I took apart is an old piece of crap from the Vietnam War that the US basically handed to Israel during the Yom Kippur War. Apparently the US sold them for a buck a piece. Hell I would have bought a couple hundred myself for that price. We’ve had to lug the old thing around the whole past week – you forget it somewhere and you’re screwed. I like my M-16 though, her names ShaNayNay – she’s big and she’s black (meh, I thought it was clever when we were all naming our “neshakeem” aka weapons). Apparently the “onesh” or punishment for forgetting it is automatic shabbat – basically meaning you don’t get the weekend off. Considering next weekend is New Years – I’m holding onto that thing like a fat kid to his cake this week.

man I wish this was an M-16!

ShaNayNay is heavy and a royal pain in the arse to run with but she/it’s also the coolest thing we’ve gotten our gritty hands on so I guess it’s worth it. This coming week we’ll be doing target practice with lasers??? Whatever, I guess I came to the army just to go to a high tech LazerTron. Apparently we’ll be doing live shooting in two weeks though – I’m really looking forwards to that, mostly because I know I’m gonna be awesome at it and it’ll make up for the fact that everyone else in my unit knows more Hebrew than I do.

ma baby girl

Tzevet Tesha – or Unit 9 is my unit. A bunch of freaks, but I love em. Tzevet Tesha is made up of: a couple of Ruski’s that speak barely any English, a Ukrainian kid Demetri who’s speaks English and quite a bit of Hebrew, a chill Venezualan named Josh who speaks English, Spanish and Hebrew, a Brasillian, and a few Americans. I get along with everyone pretty well even though some of them can be complete idiot’s sometimes. I just don’t think they’ve realized they’re in the Army yet. I’ll update on my unit more as I get to know them better. I’m trying to keep an open mind… key word is trying.

“Trying” is the name of the game during training in the IDF, as I’m sure is the same in most other civilized armies in the world as well. They don’t really care if you’re number 1 or not – they’d rather see that you’re motivated and putting your effort into the game. I call it a game because that’s really all that “tironut” or training is. Tironut is glorified pledging all over again.

I pledged a fraternity in college (won’t name which one, but you can probably guess) which didn’t have an “I’m gonna beat the shit out of you” hazing process – but it also wasn’t all rainbows and sunshine either. Eating gross stuff, push ups, sit-ups, wall sits, running, getting yelled at – that sort of harmless stuff. And I say harmless because although I recognize that it technically is hazing I really don’t think it affected me adversely in any way. What I do believe is that it made me a stronger person mentally and physically. It also prepared me for how I’d be treated during the Army.

All day long we get barked at by 20-25 year old women who clearly have some inanimate object stuck far up their asses. EVERYTIME we move somewhere we have to count down from 10 in Hebrew the last 10 seconds of the time we were allotted. Otherwise it’s pushups and running. Or maybe it’s just running for the sake of running. Or maybe it’s pushups because they purposely didn’t give us enough time to get to where we were supposed to be going. I think you can understand where I’m going with this. If you don’t get it, it’s probably because you haven’t pledged or haven’t served in the Army. I won’t say you’re better off, because I know pledging was interesting and the Army sure as hell seems entertaining enough.

More entertaining is what happened this weekend. This weekend I went to another kibbutz with one the soldiers from my kibbutz called Maagen Michael which is supposed to be the nicest in the country. The stories are true. This place was amazing. It’s made all of it’s money off of some plastic factory that makes toilet parts – random. Whatever they do, they do it right. They’re a 10 minute walk from the beach, there are crazy exotic plants growing everywhere and the food is FANTASTIC. Best thing is, if you live there – you don’t pay for didily squat, it’s a kibbutz. Long story short Elan (my friend) and I passed out cold before we went to the party were were supposed to go to there. We slept around 14 hours – I really needed it. Shit happens, oh well. I met some more cool people though and Josh from my Tzevet lives there so I got to meet up with him. I met a Jewish, Swedish girl who just made aliyah and speaks Hebrew… WTF? For friends of mine, you know It was like seeing myself but in hot girl form. All in all, a relaxing interesting weekend even though I missed out on a party – there’s always next weekend that’s already in the planning…

Maagen Michael

I have to wake up in about 5 hours to get back to the Army tomorrow so I’m gonna cut this entry a little short. I have some other things written down that I had wanted to write about but I guess they’ll either just have to go on Facebook or wait till next weekend. I created a Flickr page for my phone pictures so check that out in the meanwhile (there’s only a few for now). Sorry guys I know how much you want to read about my awesome 19 hour pledge fests, but I have another one to prepare for tomorrow so it’ll have to wait.

L’hetraot” (See you later)