Sof Hakshara: The End of Training

The ceremony in which a soldier receives his Brigade’s Beret has come and passed for me. It is known as the Tekes Kumta, the Beret Ceremony. To deserve the Beret on your shoulder, you must go through the arduous training from beginning to end.

What is a Kumta? A Beret. Each infantry brigade has a specific beret color. The paratroopers wear red berets, Golani wears brown berets, Givati wears a violet/purple beret, Nahal wears a light green beret. Kfir has, in my opinion the best beret for a soldier. Why? Because its camouflage, rather than some color you could see from a distance. Being camouflage is more operational, even though you wouldn’t be wearing a beret in any operation (since a beret is only for formal dress). Still, it speaks to the nature of a soldier to have a camouflage beret.

I love it.

A few days before our Tekes Kumta, was our Masa Kumta. The Masa undergone before receiving the Beret.

Masa Kumta: 65 Kilometers. Normally, in Kfir a Masa Kumta would be around 80 kilometers at least. But in the summer time, due to the heat, the number is reduced. However, the last ten kilometers is done with the stretchers opened and people laying on them. According to the army’s logic, one kilometer of carrying the stretchers this way is equivalent to walking three kilometers with them folded. Hence, we did the equivalent of 80 kilometers.

Guys who do this march during the coolor months wont ever carry stretchers for so many kilometers. Lucky bastards.

In any case, we did the most kilometers in the army. In the winter its more, in the summer its still more than anyone else does.

I don’t think I’m gloating here, I’m just attempting to state a fact.

And gloating a little.

Before the Masa Kumta was the Preparatory Masa for the Masa Kumta: 48 kilometers. The last 8 with stretchers open and people laying on them.

For the preparatory Masa, one receives the emblem of the infantry. For the Masa Kumta, one receives the Kumta of the Brigade.

In our case, we received both at the same time at the Kumta ceremony.

Now we will enter the Gdud (our Battalion) and begin our regular service on the front line. Before we mostly did training, with the occasional mission or guard duty. Especially during the war this summer. From now on, it will be reversed. We will regularly do missions, guard duty, with the occasional interruption of training exercises.

Before the Tekes Kumta ceremony, my commander saw fit to gift me his Matznefet. This is a camouflage, or desert color cloth that we wear on our helmets. He made it for himself during his commander’s course, and wore it ever since.

In the army, it is an honor to receive something from your commander. It comes out of respect, the only other way for a commander to show that is with a punch to your chest. And usually those two come together.

So we had our ceremony. I was super excited, and the moment our Lieutenant (and commander of our company) removed my green beret (the one all trainees wear) and put the brigade Beret on my head, I felt 10 months of preparation and hard work finally rewarded.

Upon return to the army, we will finish returning whats left of our gear. And receive new gear from our new base…at some point. Our place in the line will start for a few weeks in Kalikilya, a large Arab town very close to Israel’s center. And then we will spend two months in Shechem, a large Arab city deeper in the territory.

I can’t wait. I truly can’t wait. I came to this army to serve. And now, with training finally over, I can expect to do exactly what I came for. Rather than have this be the occasional thing during a war, it will be the regular thing regardless of war or peace.

Finally.

I’m already feeling like I’ve joined the brotherhood of fighters. Why? Today I was given permission to do some business in Tel Aviv instead of report for duty with everyone else at the usual place and time. And no one, absolutely no one told me what time and place to be after I’m finished. In fact, no one has bothered to ask if I’m finished. My former commander simply asked me rather casually in a text: “When are you returning to base?” I told him when I plan to be there, and he simply responded with the Hebrew equivalent of “awesome”.

Training is over. Its really over. No one breathing down my neck…Relief at last, Relief at last. Oh Sweet Lord Almighty, Relief at Last.

The Brigade’s Kumta is on my head for the first time!

Tekes Kumta

For the last 7 months the man to my right was my commander.

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3 thoughts on “Sof Hakshara: The End of Training

  1. Robert – I am new posting here. My 25-year son made aliyah last August, and he is due to report to the IDF for two years this month. As you did, he wants a combat unit, and like you he is a college grad from here in the US. But he roots for the Giants and 49ers!

    I found out about your blog on a Facebook page for friends and family of lone soldiers, and over the past few weeks I’ve been catching up reading from your first post a year ago to today’s post. You’ve been inspiring to me, and also helped me understand what motivated my son to his decision, as he has not been able to articulate it very well. But you’ve also provided some good practical information that I’ve shared with him (and I’ve encouraged him to read your blog), like getting thermal underwear for nights in the desert in the winter, and watching your canteen always.

    So congratulations on your beret ceremony, stay safe, and protect the people of Israel. And please keep posting.

    Best regards.

    • I’m very happy to know that my blog helped you understand your son better and that in the pages of my ranting about my own experience in the IDF can be found helpful advice for new soldiers. Maybe I’ll write a blog specifically aimed for new soldiers and what they should know.

      Thanks for visiting my blog. I hope it continues to be a help to you.

  2. Very proud of you, son! You are bigger man then I am.
    G-d bless you, Robert! You and your solder-friends with health and peace for years to come.

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