The rest of my 'plooga' (company) have already been at the gdud for the last two weeks, helping to get the base ready for our time there. For me, however, I have been at ulpan (learning hebrew) on the tzanchanim training base for the last fortnight, something that every lone soldier or new immigrant is entitled to at the end of advanced training. It was an extremely fun and relaxed two weeks and being with all the other lone soldiers from tzanchanim, the majority being from USA, meant there was a lot of joking around. We learnt some hebrew obviously, but the two weeks were mainly appreciated because it meant we missed out on all the hard work that our friends have been doing at the gdud! Also, it meant another two hamshooshim (leaving for the weekend on a Thursday), which brings my tally of hamshooshim up to an incredible thirteen, when I tell my army friends about this fact, they normally look like they want to hit me, since a regular kravi soldier is said to get around two or three hamshooshim a year!!!
Showing off my red kumta on my base uniform
Joining the gdud, what does that mean exactly? The gdud, mine being 101, is made up of four 'ploogot' (companies), all of which have a different job and speciality. One of those four ploogot, is 'ploogat maslool', which is the company that has recently finished its training on the base and will stay together as a company for three months in the gdud. After three months, which marks the end of a soldiers' first year in the army, that company is broken up and the soldiers are divided amongst the three regular ploogot of the gdud. Now this all may sound a little confusing, as it was for me at the start, but I'm just trying to fully explain what the next step is.
So my company, which is basically the November 2009 draft of 101 battallion of tzanchanim, is now becoming the 'ploogat maslool' (in case you didn't know, there are three drafts a year for combat units; March, August and November). For the next three months, my plooga will stay together until around early October where we'll cease to be 'tzairim' (army younsters) and will become 'vatikim' (ancients (!) within the army). At the end of one year in the army, the length of our 'maslool' (route), we will also receive our tzanchanim fighter's pin, the last mantlepiece for our uniform. So when I go back to the army tomorrow, my plooga will be the youngest people in the gdud and, as tradition goes, we are going to suffer at the hands of all the vatikim, like March '08 draft. This is what is probably giving me all the nerves.
The base I'm moving to is, thankfully, only fifteen minutes from my kibbutz, Ortal, in the Golan Heights. After months of six hour journeys and lengthy explanations to why I was late, I can finally wake up in daylight on a Sunday morning and arrive back before lunch on a Friday afternoon! For the next three months, all of tzanchanim's battallions; 101, 202 and the idiotic 890, will be participating in the summer training here in the Golan Heights. I have finished all the training required to be considered a 'lohem' (fighter) but this training is on a battallion level. This means, there will be a lot of shetach and many exercises where the whole gdud practices working together.
My class' room on the old training base.
The best news of all, however, is that last week, my lone soldier right of 30 days a year to fly back home to visit was approved by the gdud. In mid-August, I'm going back to London for a full month!!! You don't understand how excited I am; not only am I going to be there for my birthday, but also will be able to celebrate Rosh Hashannah with my family, see all my friends before they go back to university and go to see Spurs with my papa, hopefully in the Champions League! I haven't been home for a year now, not seen my friends in that time or seen my parents' new home. I can barely contain my excitement and will try to write a blog on the eve of going home in a months time.
I am not sure when I will be back in Ortal for a free weekend, in the gdud everything is, if possible, even more vague, but I'll be sure to write about what happens in the gdud at some point soon. Have a good week everyone!
The other newspaper articles I have been in...