Saturday, 23 July 2011

Starting the new kav...

I should've been completing my first '17' of the new kav but, as per usual, my repuatation as the biggest oketz this army has ever seen, has once again, proven to be true. As of speaking, I am writing this blog to you from my home in Tel Aviv late on a Saturday night, before returning to the army tomorrow. I was out this weekend because my mum was here for her work, however, the real oketzing is that I won't be going back to the kav up north tomorrow, but I'll be going to the 'bach' (tzanchanim training base) instead. All shall be revealed...

I'll start with my short, but definitely filling, taste of the new kav up in the north at Israel's border with Lebanon. My gdud, 101, is located on and around Mount Dov, a mountain range sandwiched between Metulla/Kiryat Shemona and the Hermon (if you know your Israeli geography). It's a sensitive region and one which needs continuous patrolling and monitoring from a combat batallion. Whereas in Gaza, the whole batallion was situated on one base, this time, due to the complexities of the northern border, the gdud is split up into its companies and even platoons, with each one having its own base or 'motsav' (post). My company has its own 'motsav', which means that for the first time for me in the army, I am on a very intimate base with just my 'pluga' (company), around 80 soldiers all in all. I can't obviously say where exactly the 'motsav' is, but we are very close to the border and our main objective is patrolling Israel's northern front and making sure everything is safe up there. The northern border, those who are well educated on the subject and its history will know, is a very complex matter with certain parts still being quite cloudy, due to the unreachable mountain range, the unconfirmed international borders and the unclarity of the "blue line", Whereas in Gaza there was a very clear border and a very clear stance on what it represents, up north it's entirely different because the situation there is so much more sensitive and delicate. This all adds up to a very interesting type of kav and one that is going to be an experience whatever happens.

My new 'motsav' with the beautiful landscape of Mount Dov in the background.

So I started the kav and as much as I remembered how much I loved the routine of it (I still think my time in Gaza was my most enjoyable time in the army so far), the hardships and difficulties of being on kav were also re-introduced. Firstly, despite being out this weekend, throughout the week the struggle of completing 17 days in the army was a reality again and even though I got used to it in Gaza, it is never a fun cycle and psychologically is very hard. The other harships of kav also came up in this past week; whether that be lack of sleep, the boredom of long guard duties or the pure depressive nature of kitchen and company duties. Being the first week of a new kav and a new '17', the mood was very tense and only on the 12 hour 'siyur' (mounted border patrol) did I notice some more upbeat conversation. In fact, it was on that 'siyur' that I joined in on a very interesting conversation between some of the guys in my 'mahlaka' that I'd like to share. We talked about the friendships one makes in the army and how the saying that "friends from the army are your friends for life" is not entirely true. As much as I love the friends I've made from the army, due to the continuously changing nature of the army, it is easy to lose touch with people. A perfect example of this is how some of the guys from 'makim', who I felt extremely close to, I have already started to lose contact with them, simply because we've all gone back to our respective units and are all in different places doing differnet things. However, we concluded that it even if you lose touch, friendships from the army are unique in the fact that they have been through and passed tests that can't be found in public life. There are some guys in my 'mahlaka' that I honestly am not that keen on and would definitely not have been friends with them if they were in my year at school for instance, however, we have been through weeks of shetach together, where we didn't sleep, didn't eat and snuggled together in sleeping bags when it was cold. We may not like each other but we were on the same 'siyur' together when there was a serious incident in Gaza. These things make a friendship and its something that binds us together forever. We also marvelled how a whole mix of people can come together to make a combat class of soldiers; from Ethiopians and Russians and religious and secular, to northerners and southerners and 'sabras' (born Israelis) and immigrants, like my self. In the end, the differences never matter because we are all fighting together as one with the same cause.

Bunkers on the 'motsav', very much like the movie "Beaufort".

As bad as the first week of kav was, I knew that I was going to get a nice treat at the end of it by getting out for the weekend, but more importantly, by seeing and spending time with my mummy. We were in Jerusalem for the weeeknd and I re-discovered my love for the city, even though it's hardly gone away. As you may have noticed from the blog, I'm a big fan of Tel Aviv. It's a buzzing, young city, full of culture and history, and a truly fantastic place to live for any Jew in the world, but in particular for budding zionists and younger people. Nevertheless, in terms of symbolic, political and spirital (the list of superlatives could go on: historical, religous, militarily tactical etc) importance, it donesn't even come near to the holy city. I don't think I could ever live in Jerusalem, even though the idea of being close to the kotel and all those incredible historical places does inspire me, but it is, undoubtedly, the most important thing about Israel. I think that's why I've always seen the capture of the Old City in the six day war as the key event in Israel's history and this also explains my love for tzanchanim and the desire I had to be part of the brigade's history. With this incredible city as a background, I had a wondeful weekend with my mummy and only made me looked forward even more to my (still not confirmed grrrr!!!) trip back to London in the summer.

Meeting up with my mummy in Jerusalem.

And now to the big news. On friday morning, moments before leaving to go home, I was informed that I would be going to the 'bach' tomorrow, in order to be a 'mefaked' (commander) for soldiers in 'trom tironut'. 'Trom tironut' is the first two weeks of your army service; from the time you go to the Bakkum to get your army I.D. and uniform up until the point where you go to your respective battalion within tzanchanim and start 'tironut' (basic training). During that period, you are under the supervision of commanders who'll look after and guide you, before you meet up with your proper commanders for basic training. For me, it's the perfect job and something that is highly in demand by those who are '08' qualified but don't have a permament role as a commander. When I was told, I was so excited, not only have I finally been given some sort of 'tafkid' (job as a commander) but it's also one of the most fun two weeks that I could've had in the army. These soldiers, who will be drafting into the army on Wednesday as the August '11 draft (such youngsters!!!) have already been accepted into tzanchanim but need go through the absorption process at the 'bach' and the voluntary internal gibush (for elite tzanchanim and other special units) before they arrive at their company for the start of basic training. This will be the first two weeks of these soldiers' three year service and I am going to be their first ever mefaked!!! Even though, it's not the most vital of tafkids, I think its a very momentous role and I still remember my mefaked from 'trom tironut'. There's still so much to tell about what it entails and how I'm feeling but I'll leave that to next week's blog, whereby I'll have gone through a couple of days of preparation and then will have received my soldiers at the Bakkum.

This 'tafkid' most likely means I'll be out for the next two weekends, while my mahlaka back on kav will be facing the most difficult fortnight of their lives due to August '10 going away for special platoon training. Of course, there had to be an oketzing spin on the whole commander thing, but aside from that, this is something that I am unbelievably excited for and probably the reason why it was easier to say goodbye to my mummy earlier this evening. I cannot wait to go to the army tomorrow (a very rare sentance indeed) and next week's blog will hopefully show the fulfillment that I expect to gain from this coming week. (A very...) Shavua Tov.

1 comment:

  1. congratulations sam thats amazing, your parents must be so proud of you. :) xx