The next day, we went to the field to do a standard company test. It’s similar to what I described in my last blog. Its a company-wide 3k run under timed conditions, in full gear, and with three stretchers open with people on them. Then a Yalam which is a 200 meter sprint after which you must shoot a target using only six bullets, three in one fire position and three in another fire position. But in this case, the shooting marks are averaged for the whole company.
The rest of the day we were checking our gear and getting ready for a gear inspection by our Company Commander.
The day after that, we went to zero our sights (those of us that still didn’t get to do so) and fire our riot control weapons. The people that came with me from my old Battalion (Lavi) had ample experience in riot control weapons already. But for the guys we joined, who’d spent a year on a quiet Kav on the Jordanian border, this was good experience.
And lets face it, its fun to shoot this stuff:
With an attachment placed on your rifle, you can put a grenade inside the barrel. Pull the pin off the grenade, and watch as it wont explode until AFTER you shoot the gun. Even if its in there for half an hour! The same principle applies if you hold it in your hand, but lets face it, no one wants to hold a grenade for longer than half a second once that pin is pulled.
And that’s just one of the things we shot. We also fired rubber bullets, threw frag grenades, and fired the RINGO which launches choking gas. I remember how we used it once to force a large group of rioters back into their town and away from a near-by Jewish settlement they were harassing. I wrote about it on the blog during my time in Shechem.
Occasionally this stuff can start a fire, as its very hot in the field and the grass and weeds easily catch fire. Two or three times that’s exactly what happened, and we had to run out into the fire to put it out. Its quite an unpleasant experience to inhale a fire like that.
At the same time, visitors came to our base from Europe. I didn’t get to be there since I was in the field doing what I described above. They were a group of Christian Israel supporters, and they came to show their moral support. I would have liked to talk to them…
(A month ago, a different group of visitors came to our base on the Golan Heights. This was a group of new army recruits from abroad. I tried to give them advice, and be open to their questions. The army should probably have thought twice about bringing people whom haven’t even begun their draft to talk with soldiers long into into their service…)
Later that evening we had night reserved as a “Company Evening”. Usually this means a BBQ. This time however, our Company Commander wanted us all to watch the movie Black Hawk Down. So, our company gathered in the room designated as our club house (something absolutely unheard of for soldiers in training).
There we sat, crammed into the room sitting on benches, eating junk food. I made myself tea after tea after tea, carefully navigating my way with the hot tea so it wont spill on anyone. As the movie started, I thought back to my first week in Lavi on Kfir’s training base. We sat in a room where our company commander showed us a scene from “Band of Brothers”. A show I watched many times, but this time I was absolutely focused on the reactions of the people around me.
Their reactions were meaningful for me, and I made a blog about it.
This time, we were watching a full movie, and I didn’t have very high hopes for meaning. The guys were like me, long beyond idealism.
But my guys have a way to surprise. Whenever we’d see something in the movie that is close to how things are in reality, we’d apply it to ourselves. For example, when we saw an actor playing a U.S. Army Ranger using a machine gun, the man sitting next to me would whisper “Robert…”
We saw ourselves in the movie, but more importantly we saw each other in the movie. In a difficult scene where a squad commander and a medic care for a soldier with an arterial wound during a lull in fighting inside a building they’d captured, I’m sure we all thought the same thing: the name of our medic in the room.
He quietly walked out of the room at the end of this scene. Earlier this same week, he was giving us all a lesson on stopping the bleeding if someone is wounded in this same artery.
When I watched this movie, the ending monologue always seemed cheesy to me. Something Holly Wood does to give its movie a speech worth the cinematic presentation. Mayve even something a critic might say is an example of war propaganda and jingoism. But having watched this movie with my guys, I realize its nothing of the sort. For once, this was the glimmer of truth that HollyWood uses to build its movies: