Sunday, March 6, 2011

Really really good title

There is no doubt training is fun….very fun at times.  Nothing can compare to an entire brigade with tank and artillery support conquering a piece of land and turning night into day with the awesome amount of firepower used, knowing that the cardboard cutouts, despite their best efforts, really have little chance of surviving the onslaught as their fate is sealed.  

Artists rendition of cardboard target 30 minutes into the battle

More importantly for my unit, however, training was a great environment in which to build cohesion, professionalism and a sense of mission into my soldiers.  Its also not too bad getting off most weekends to try to have a bit of a social life.  On the other hand, it was also among the most difficult times I experienced in the army.  It wasn’t the physical challenge, which was slightly less than last year’s training, but rather the difficulty of learning to command soldiers who were less than ideally disciplined and not always so excited to be here.  It was a period of time that really taught me that doing what is right is certainly not always what is popular, but  as you’ll see in a moment it has paid off.

Planning navigation for the rest of the patrol...
...Or just trying to do a crossword puzzle

The move to “Kav” (literally “line” – active duty) carries with it, depending on the location, quite a bit of excitement since you feel things get a bit “more real.”  This will technically be my fourth Kav, but they have all been short and my role has been limited.   “Kav Ayosh” (Judea and Sumeria) is the most complicated and active Kav in Israel which brings with it more responsibility since, rather than being a border like Egypt, Lebanon or even Gaza, where  the Israelis are on one side and the Arabs on are on the other, in Ayosh you literally are “in the middle of it.”  If you glance at map of Ayosh you will see hundreds of Jewish and Arab villages and towns sometimes not more than a couple of hundred feet away from each other, roads and bus stops that are shared and daily smaller incidents that can easily become “very big” incidents.  These realities demand a much more “three dimensional” handle on the situation and makes knowledge of the location all the more critical. 
Night Patrol.  Notice requisite cigarette in driver's hand...this is to maintain operational readiness and support the American economy - producer of Marlboro light.

At this point in time I would like for Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, Fatah and their associates in Iran and other Zionist hotbeds…as well as Peace Now and of course Geraldo Rivera not to keep reading.  Thanks.
Explaining where we are on the patrol...or asking my soldier for his autograph
Part of the rapid response team, my medic look so hardcore (rt)

So what do we do on Kav?  Well I obviously can’t tell you everything  - mainly because sounding secretive makes what I do sound much more interesting – but just think James Bond meets Delta Force while riding around in the A-Team’s old van… In any case I spent my first two weeks mainly commanding what I guess would be translated as the Rapid Response Team (RRT we’ll call it).  This is quite a mixed bag.  On the one hand it makes life always a bit more exciting knowing that if something happens (like the Coke machine taking someone’s money) you have a decent chance of being there to handle the situation.  On the other hand it stinks sleeping in boots for days.  Additionally, I got a chance to take my soldiers out on some patrols in the area, an excellent way to both militarily get to know the area from different vantage points as well as eh…non-militarily connect with the Land and the People. 
Class given on the various military uses of Bamba and Coke.

I should note, for anyone who has not been in Judea and Sumeria, it is unbelievably beautiful, by far the most incredible part of Israel in my opinion, even more than the Golan.  Characterized by hills and valleys covered with an enormous variety of trees, bushes and flowers, Judea and Sumeria is a unique part of the Land.  Just as wonderful are the people who populate the area.  Those Israelis who live in these towns, villages and settlements (oh no! I used a politically incorrect word!) are particularly patriotic and dedicated to the helping the State through army service, education and volunteering.  The communities themselves are very close-knit and warm and have a very strong connection to the Land itself through agriculture as well as frequent tiyulim (trips) – an Israeli tradition. 

Ok we’ll have to end here since it is past my bedtime, this blog is way overdue and I want to save things for up and coming blogs.  Don’t worry, blogs about my trip to the US and thing since will be coming soon (I use that term loosely of course but stay optimistic folks!).