Pakalim

This week we received our combat specific specializations (our Pakal). A specialization can be a sharp shooter, a grenade launcher, a rocket launcher, a squad leader, a medic, etc, etc. I have always been a good shot, so my hope has always been that I would become a sharp shooter. I was among the people chosen to take the test to become a sharp shooter. This was a test where we were told to remove our scope instruments, and fire with nothing but the bare gun.

The test was to take a single shot while lying on the ground, then leave the gun on the ground and stand up. Then drop back on the ground, and place the next bullet as close as possible to the first. This was to be repeated five times, and to pass the test you would need a group of five bullets where the farthest distance between any two bullets is less than 5cm.

Early in the test, I saw that my target was constantly moving due to the wind. Everyone’s elses targets were well secured in place. Mine was not. I complained about it to the commanders there, however they didn’t have anything to say to me other than to wait for the target to stop moving before I shoot. Which misses the point, because my problem was that I couldn’t know when the target would start moving again! I mean, how would I know whether or not the target would move at the moment I pull the trigger?

Still, despite the moving, I passed the test with a grouping under 5cm. However, I did not receive the job I wanted. I always thought I’d become a sharp shooter because I shoot accurately, and then move on to take the sniper school test. Alas, it turns out that even if I would have become a sharp shooter, my draft class is not offered the sniper course!

The army drafts combat soldiers three times a year, each is several months apart. And I guess the army doesn’t need to fill any sniper units at the part of the year when I was drafted.

So what am I? I am a Magist. What is a Magist? A Magist is someone who fires the Mag.

Mag

It weighs between 10-13 kilograms, or 22-28 pounds, depending on whether the accessories are attached.

Why am I a Magist? Probably because I’m big and broad shouldered. You can’t give this gun to a little guy, or a slender guy. And the fact that I’m an accurate shot might have played a role, since the Mag is a difficult weapon to be accurate with. Its purpose is to spray an enemy hard point with gigantic bullets meant to weaken an enemy hard point before we enter.

I’m not too happy about this. I’m worried the weight of the weapon will cause me some sort of life long injury, like a back problem. I’ve heard stories about things like this happening. The coming week will be a field week the purpose of which is for us to use the weapons we have been given.

My commander thinks by the end of this week I’ll be happy with the Mag, once I’ve fired it.

I guess we’ll see.

We did another 6k run this week, it was the second time. The first time we did this run, it nearly killed me. But this time, I was feeling fine at the end. More than that, during the run the commander saw how someone was struggling and ordered me to baby sit him the entire way. It’s a lot tougher to run when you have to either pull or push another human being the whole way. Especially in those moments when they refuse to cooperate and try to get away from you!

I couldn’t believe that in such a short time my role was reversed from the straggler to what I was doing now.

I kept telling him to put on a big smile, it’ll help. I kept telling him its ok if he slows down, but its not ok for him to stop. I told him “if you stop, I will take you by the hand and drag you the rest of the way.” It didn’t seem to help too much but then as we approached the end of the run and he seemed completely wiped out, I told him to think of the fact that he is a combat soldier of the Defense Forces of Israel. I added “Finish like a soldier!” That did it, and we both sprinted as fast as we could to the finish.

Writing this now, I realize how I should probably take my own advice. I don’t like the job I received, but I’m a soldier of the Israel Defense Forces. So I guess my only option is to do my job well.

Also this week we had our Swearing Ceremony. I don’t know what else to say about it other than that during every part of it I felt like a combat soldier. I swore on my weapon, and I received a Tanakh (Jewish bible) to take home. My thoughts on this ceremony were written at length in a previous post titled Tekes Ashba.

Just look how happy I was:

Talking to my parents on Skype.

Talking to my parents on Skype.

Other than that, its been an easy week. I’d love to write more, but its getting late and I have to be up early in the morning. We will close Shabbat this week, so I will be on base for the coming two weeks.

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