Saturday, 2 July 2011

Back to the Gdud

It has been an eventful week for me; I returned to the gdud after being on course makim for the last four months and am now back in my original company as a 'hapash' (regular soldier). This means that I wasn't given a role as a commander for the time being and I will certainly be touching on this in the blog.

So last Sunday, I went back to my gdud, battalion 101, for the first time since before I left for commanders' course back in March when we were still in Gaza doing kav. It was great to go back, see everyone and catch up on all that's been happening in the last couple of months. Currently, the gdud has just finished a period of training in the shetach of the Golan Heights (much like I did when I joined the gdud after finishing my basic and advanced training a year ago), so when I came back, everyone was quite sick and tired from the previous months of doing exercises in the shetach. After catching up with all my friends, I had a interview with the 'magad' (battalion commander) to find out where I would be going, as did everyone from 101 who had just finished makim. While some got sent to be commanders of basic training back at the tzanchanim base, others are now commanders of more veteran soldiers within the gdud. I was sort of expecting to be given a job in the 'plugat maslool' (soldiers who have just arrived in the gdud) but was disappointed to be told that I wasn't being given anything for the time being and was to return to my original platoon to be a 'hapash'. Before, I get started on this whole decision and what it means, I do want to mention how in the interview with the 'magad', after slashing my dreams of being a commnander, the 'magad' then proceeded to small talk with me about London and football. I think he was genuinely interested by this, but due to feeling rather letdown by him, I somewhat rudely brushed off his questions, saluted him and walked out his office; his secretary seemed most surprised by this act of 'chutzpah'!!!

This picture perfectly captures the current state of my platoon - in need of lots of bandages!!!

So I didn't get a 'tafkid' (role) as a commander and I was bitterly disappointed, to say the least. After all the hard work I had put in during course makim and the great score I had come out with, I still wasn't going to be a commander. Instead, I was back to my platoon and went back to living the life of a 'hapash'; a life of guarding, company duty and listening to orders. There's no point trying to hide how sad and angry I felt on Sunday and it was a very bitter pill to swallow. It was the first time in a long time that I've truly felt sort of hopeless with myself and the immediate thoughts of mine were that I just wanted to get out of the army and out of Israel in general. These were undoubtedly very irrational thoughts and I did eventually realised this, however, the frustration of not getting a tafkid is still very much on my mind. I think for me the problem is that up until now, I have always been lucky/successful in my army service, whether that was getting into tzanchanim, always getting time off whenever my parents have been here or getting into commanders course. However, this time I haven't been so fortunate and I needed to accept the fact that I can't always get what I want. It took a couple of days, but I finally accepted the decision and have slowly returned to my old routine in the army.

I was back merely a day and already in the shetach.

Being a 'hapash' isn't all that bad. There are definitely disadvantages, like the whole guarding and duties, but being a 'hapash' also means a very easy and simple service. No headache of being responsible for other soldiers, no stress of having to sit in meetings with the platoon commander; don't get me wrong these were all things I was happy and prepared to do as part of being a commander, but now that I don't have to, well, it's fun to be lazy too. The best thing about being a 'hapash' again, means I can keep on to all the lone soldier rights that would of been difficult for me to have held onto if I was given a tafkid. The most important of which, I have already put into motion by requesting my annual 30 days of 'meyuhedet' (special holiday back to England) for September. Once this is confirmed I will start to book flights and organise my trip back home, but the craving to go back there on holiday, which I haven't done for nearly a year now, has already begun and has been there for a while. So as much as I was really annoyed about not getting a tafkid, there is always a silver lining to every cloud and going back home for a visit is something that is extremely important to me. It is also worth mentioning that this decision is not permament, in fact, the 'magad' and both my company and platoon commanders said that by November or even before, positions will be opening up and because I am '08' (qualified to be a mefaked) then I am most certainly going to be a commander at some point or another. There are also some other opportunities of commander-style courses or things I can do for the meanwhile, but I won't go into these just yet.

My American friend carrying a mortat on his back!

Like I said, I returned to my platoon once again as a regular soldier and fell into one hell of a week, in fact, the final week of the gdud's 'imun' (training). Even before I had enough time to be officially inducted back into the gdud (as it takes a couple of days to fill out all the forms and sign on all the equipment and gun etc), I was already participating in everything that the company was doing, including the 'bohen pluga', a three kilometre company run with stretchers and full combat gear, on my first morning back! I thought that I needed to time to settle back into things and let the transition from makim to gdud sink in, but no time was given to me and for most of this week I was in the shetach doing battalion-level exercises. Incredibly, by the second day of being back at the gdud, I was leading the whole battalion from the front in one of the exercises due to the fact that I am in the 'hod' (tip of a spearhead battle formation - I know that sounds very intense!) of my platoon, which happened to be ushering the gdud. I may have wanted a quiet relaxed week, where I could re-integrate myself back into the gdud, but I was hardly expecting to be running up and down hills in the Golan Heights all week.

Walking back to base after yet another exercise.

As part of my return to being my 'hapash', I most certainly upkept my reputation as an oketz and happened to get out another(!) 'hamshoosh' to the dismay of the rest of the platoon, who couldn't quite believe their eyes when they saw me on aleph uniform, a mere twenty minutes after we got back from the shetach on thursday morning. Although, I did get out for a genuine reason but it typified the fact that I'm a 'hapash' once again. It was indeed very lucky for me that I got a 'hamshoosh' as this thursday night happened to be 'lila lavan' (white night) in Tel Aviv; a night where everything stays open until early hours of the morning. Most of the entertainment was happening on my street, Rotschild boulevard, and along with the city-organised water fight on Friday as well, I really can see how moving to Tel Aviv has expanded my weekend's enjoyment and the general liveliness of my time away from the army. This past week marked the one year anniversary of my 'masa kumta' (beret march) and it made me think back to the surprise my parents gave me when they turned up, completely unexpectedly to me, at the tekes. It was by far and still the best thing they have ever done for me and due to all the cirumstances, including the masa itself, it was definitely one of the best days of my life.

Tomorrow is the army of course and, since we have finished the 'imun' now, this week is more of a fill-in-the-gap week, whereby we have sports day, a trip and some other stuff to do. I should be home next weekend too, so I shall write another blog about where I'll be in the upcoming months when the gdud moves onto its next assingment, 'kav tsafon' (northern border guarding). For the meanwhile, 'shavua tov' to you all...

1 comment:

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