We spent two weeks in Kriyat Gat. The first morning there, we went to the shooting range and began various shooting exercises. Unlike how it was for me in training all those months ago, I completed each exercise quite well from the first time, every time. I could feel the long way I’ve come.
Especially the laid back feeling of it all, this was the first time I’d been shooting on a shooting range that wasn’t in preparation for a mission.
The day time shooting was fine. The night time shooting, for me, was a joke. In training, my then company commander trained us to hit a target accurately from very far away. For the sake of security, I’ll not give the range here. Now, we were asked to hit the target from a much closer distance. Something that for many in the unit, was just like it was in training. But not for me. It was a picnic.
Too bad my then company commander from training went on to do other things after our Tekes kumta.
The next day we began field exercises, we started at night. That night we slept in the field and it was one of the most uncomfortable nights in the field I’d ever had. For some odd reason, they chose to have us sleep at the bottom of a hilly area. On one of the hills, the grass would be more or less dry and there wasn’t much of a wind. Yet, we had to sleep at the bottom where all the run off of water goes, hence the grass was very wet and it was bone chillingly windy.
We were required to sleep with our combat vests, boots, and helmets still on us, so we found ourselves impossibly rolled in the sleeping bag. People woke up with ice on their boots.
The next day we began an exercise in conquering an enemy hill with our entire company. Overseeing the exercise for constructive criticism was the commander of all of Lavi. His presence was intimidating to say the least, the man is a legend. He served in various special units, as well as Israel’s Internal Security Service, the Shin Bet. This is the organization where you might find the Israeli James Bond.
One of his comments after we completed a dry drill (without live fire), and were preparing to begin the live fire drill, was meant to give us energy after having spent it all already on the first drill: “if I notice anyone lacking energy, I will shoot at him.”
Everyone thought it was funny but no one thought he was joking. During the live fire drill, there was a moment everyone took a firing position at a different angle from the one we found ourselves, and I was running around the side to take my position. I was carrying the stretcher on my back, and the hill was steep, not to mention I was tired. So my balance was off as I ran past, wouldn’t you know it, the commander of Lavi. As I brushed by him, I snagged him with the stretcher. I continued moving, but felt awkward and yelled back “sorry” as I went, he replied “Kol Hakovod!” as in “RESPECT TO YOU!” as in “that’s exactly how I want you, push mutha f***as out of your god damned way.
That was completely natural to him. His message, its completely natural to both of us.
The field exercises lasted one night and two days. We carried two people on stretchers all the way back to base when we were done. I’m not sure how many kilometers it was.
Once we returned to base, it was a piece of cake the rest of the time we were there. The jobnik base had a store where you could order pizza, shakshouka, or other dairy deliciousness, as well as a store for junk food like chocolates, chips, sweet drinks, etc. We did a lot of equipment checks. I spent more time than anyone else organizing our combat gear, ammunition, anything else our highest ranking Sergeant (not sure what the equivalent rank in other countries would be) asked me to do.
One time, the gear was so disorganized, we had an avalanche situation:
Then I fell asleep:
The next night I was given blanks and sent to be a terrorist in a military drill for another battalion in our unit. I was to ambush our troops, and found a very bushy area around a large tree. The grass grew so high, all I needed was to crouch and the night completely devoured me.
I spent the night waiting for them to come close, very very close, and then let them have it. Until they understood where I was, and then I’d retreat to a new position to ambush from again. And repeat until I and my terrorist cell partner ran out of bullets. At which point, I waited hidden for the soldiers to advance on our quiet position.
As they came close I became ready to strike. On one side of a bush was where I’d been shooting from last. On the other side, was probably an officer and someone with him. My hands came out of the bush and grabbed his head. If I’d had a knife, I’d have been using that.
That night, we learned its good I’m on our side.
Once all the drills were over with, we had a lot of time on our hands. We had a large barbecue.
During which a lot of emotional events happened. For my company it was a time for togetherness in a storm of uncertainty. As our company commander said during his toast.
For the soldiers who drafted in March 2012, it was their expiration date. They finished their service, and in civilian clothing shouted “Ad Matai!?” (until when) for the last time on top of big storage containers. Below them, stood the rest of their battalion. The men they served with the for the better part of three years. The next soldiers about to be released in half a year were those who drafted August 2012. They shouted in response “Camo Od!” (how much more!?).
The rest of the battalion that wasn’t part of either of those draft dates would only respond with the dates of those shouting. For every Ad Matai, they’d receive a “March 12!” For every Camo OD, shouted by the men in the circle below, they’d receive “August 12!”
We went home for the weekend. Our former Battalion commander put together a trip for us, to celebrate our Sof Moslul. The finishing of our first Kav. We went north and learned about a battle with the Jordanians during the war for independence that took place in a specific area we were visiting. After which, we went to have our own battle, a paintball battle.
This was highly educational. I treated it like the real thing. I used all my training. We fought three battles, and I exited the game alive, having run out of ammunition (no refills). It taught me a lot about how important it is to follow your training.
That night we had a gigantic barbecue and slept in one large tent for everyone.
In the morning, we had a ceremony for Sof Moslul. At this ceremony we received the pin for the Kfir Brigade:
Two Pins, one for Lavi (my unit) and one for Kfir (My brigade). And they both mean Lion!
And we received our own personal fleece coat with the name of our unit and draft date. This is a coveted item, it represents the veteran standing of a soldier. Also, a big book bag fit for carrying our personal items to base and back, or for trips, so thats nice:
Soon after that, we moved out to join the special forces of the tank brigade. And began a one month Kav (tour of duty) with them, securing the Jordanian border.