Saturday, August 28, 2010

First steps of becoming a real soldier

Here i'm back after 2 more weeks of being there. I must say, those 2 weeks were easier, than i expected. I found some new friends, i didn't change my division as i wanted, because i got what i need here also. The post i hold now is called "mem-tet" - "mishne techni", or a technical unit. I will sit in the vehicle called "sampick", you can see it on the back side behind the artillery on the pic in previous post. My job is to coordinate the fire of the whole division - surely not alone, we will do the job together with other "mem-tets", but that's how it works.

What has passed during those 2 weeks? We've learned some new stuff, one of the most significant in the first week were lectures about biological/chemical weapon usage threats and using first medical help - this one was also with practical and theoretical tests. I've passed both, and although we weren't told about our marks, i think they are pretty decent, i can recognize only 2 little mistakes i did. But hmm, may be the man would die because of those mistakes, omg...  actually, a man's life is the highest value in Israeli Army. If there are some wounded or killed on the enemy territory, they will never be left alone. In the last Lebanon war the average time since a soldier being hit or wounded on the battlefield till he was evacuated into one of hospitals is 1.5 hours! But we strive for 1 hour. That's not always possible...

After closing Shabbat in the base, we had the whole shabbat free - we could sit in our rooms, we could even go to play some football, although for some reason there were very few who wanted to play in 40 degrees heat :D  All i did was reading a book and eating snacks, we were allowed to go to soldiers shop to buy some eatable stuff before the shabbat came. In the beginning of the next week we packed our stuff, a lot of stuff and left to shooting grounds, where we learned basics of shooting with M-16. In the beginning i couldn't hit a shit, i was almost crying about me being such a dumbass sniper, but i've improved with time and in the end shot a head 5 times out of 5 from 50 meters :O  We spent 4 days in the desert, without having any showers or other signs of civilization. We were eating so called "Manot krav" - "Battle portions". Except of important for surviving canned food, such as Tuna or preserved meat, they also contained canned nuts, canned onions, canned chocolate, tea, sugar, raspberries powder (!), canned olives and... canned halva! I've even got one for myself, so i could take a pic of it to show it to you (pic1) :D  It's pretty tasty, btw. Well, desert is still pretty nice in the evening and in the night, and especially in the period when we were there the full moon shined in the sky, was fantastic. All those 4 days we were training shooting different targets, getting into position after running and so on, learned many new things, new skills... xD We've even learned close fighting with our gun. After we've packed our stuff to go back we've made a tour of 4 kilometers with all equipment and equipment of our group. Full-equipped vest weighs around 5 kilos, additionally i carried a large flask of 10 liters of water on my shoulder the whole way, wasn't that easy. In the end I was granted a stripe with symbol of our division, i've sewed it on my "alef" uniform (pic2) :)  by the way, there are letters on the forehead. Actually, the whole forehead are letters in hebrew, it's the name of our battalion - Granit.  It was a big surprise for me, but i'm the only one who was granted the stripe, am i so outstanding? O_o

Next week we are going there again to widen our knowledge, although i'm tired of all this thing,my left leg hurts after every action i do with it, and whole thing with timing is just freaking me out. All we do is with timing. And if you are late for 1 second, you can even get so called "Tsvei Pgiya",  which hold you for another hour or two in the base before you can go home. If you get too much of them you don't go home at all :D

Feel free to comment and ask question, this means a lot for me. I wasn't sure about writing this post, i thought that anyway no one needs it....

Friday, August 13, 2010

Home, sweet home.

And here i am back again, my friends.Last Wednesday we were divided between different divisions again. There are currently 5 or more divisions, i name you those i remember: "Namer", "Darkon", "Neshef", "MLRS", "Moran" and may be one more, don't remember it's name. First three do stuff with artillery, MLRS is working with MLRS systems, and "Moran" is secret division, the elite one, like CSI or smth like that. On the pics below you can see a regular artillery (left) and the MLRS system (right).

Owing to my curiosity, i went to the selection event to the "Moran" division. Since the commander there told it's secret division and we should not tell anyone how the selection system goes, i can only tell to you, that we had some physical exercises (as individual and also as a team), then some interesting tests and an interview. I've told them honestly, that i came just over reasons of curiosity in interview, so they don't take me there too by mistake. Although it's elite, i don't want to tear my ass all those years and i'm not sure i will keep it all secret, i want to share all those thigns with you guys, no, huh? ;)
So we were divided again into divisions on Wednesday. Although i really wanted to stay in MLRS where i was before (I knew all my commanders and many of guys there), they put me into "Namer". I have no idea why, but people told, that the computer is the one who chooses and too many people gave their first preference to MLRS. And i just was left behind :(
Ok, so here i am, in "Namer".I've asked my commander, and not once to change the division, but said it's impossible, although i know it is. Well, i'll share the news about it after i get some results. All he tells me now is that i'm only 2 days in this division, i will also get to know all the commanders and guys here and it will go fine. Although i'm sure it will not, i want back. Let's change the topic by the time.
So, we've already got our M-16 guns and also 5 magazines and soon we will fill them with bullets and train shooting. Surely, first we pass all security lessons and how to use the gun safely so you don't hurt anyone, how to carry it, to hold it and so on. Although it sounds cool, we will have to carry it with us the whole time. All those 3 years we pick it up with us wherever we go, even to the bathroom. And when you sleep, you should put it under your mattress! At least it weights only 2 kilo and not more. The guys from the sea force have Tavor guns, which weigh 3.6 kilo! They also look much better, they were invented here in Israel, but...not that comfortable to keep it with you all the time :p
Currently i'm spending my spare time by drawing stuff in my notebook, it's always in my pocket, i'm not really taking part in all "discussions" others usually do. May be one day i upload here some of my drawings, for your judgment. Next time i will tell you a bit about the social care system in IDF and a bit about the language in Tzahal, because it's really different from regular hebrew owing to large amount of acronyms and abbreviations.

Till next post, my friends, feel free to comment :)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Soldier ID Card

Welcome back, everyone!

In this post i will show to you how a soldier ID card looks like in Israel. Each soldier has to carry it with him all the time he isn't in his base. Without it he won't be able to take free public transports or will get a report by "army police" if it catches him. Army police patrols streets and if they see a soldier even crossing a street on red, they can give him a report, which will make him later a lot of troubles. Ah, yes, and this card only works if i'm also dressed with soldier uniform. I've blurred a bit the unneeded secret parts, but you still can see my face, ahah xD

 This is the last post for now, tomorrow i need to be at 10 AM in my base and the closest time i will be home again this the next shabat (Saturday) or the shabat after that. See you later, guys :)

First days in the army

// I'm sorry, but this post will be without pictures, we weren't allowed to carry cellphones with us.

To tell honestly, those days seemed just a waste of time for most of us. We didn't do anything useful almost, just moving around most of the time as formation or standing on one place for half an hour. I understand that they want to teach us discipline. The basics. To be always in time. That's why it's called only a preparation for "tiranut" - the course, which each soldier has to pass (its difficulty depends on where he is going to be in the army, our primary "tiranut" course lasts 4 months) in the beginning of his service in IDF. All we did there was always limited by time . Most of us have watch on our hands, so if a commander tells us to build a formation in 30 seconds behind some building, everyone knows exactly when the time runs out. Also, we have to count each second loudly when it comes under 30 (i hate this part...), and then a guy called a "Hantar" has to greet commanders, and we all answer him together loudly, too. I'm sorry all i tell you here are random remembrances, each time i write something i recognize smth else, the time went up very slowly in the camp, it seems like i was there much longer, than 3 days already. Let's start from morning. Each private has to sleep 6 hours a day, so you can know exactly when they are going to wake you up by looking at your watch at the moment you go to sleep. After everyone woke up, he has 10 minutes (later it will be 7 minutes) to wear his field uniform. Then we also received very limited time to brush teeth, to shave ourselves and to clean our boots. Each soldier also has to fill up his drinking bottle (we receive it from army, made of rubber) and to carry it with him all day long (filling it up again when it runs over). Although i drank a lot and had a hat on my head, i had headaches first 2 days. It was just too hot outside, there are no clouds on the sky at all, and all you can do is to bear it. I'm actually not usual for such weather, not usual for heat...but let's go on.
Each soldier has to eat 3 times a day, and the times also depend on when the first meal was taken. As many of you know, soldiers eat kosher in Tzahal, so there must be an interval of 6 hours between meat and milk meals. Commanders give us a "2-2-2" command, which means, that we have to wash up 2 hands in 2 minutes and build up 2 straight lines near the entrance. Each of us passes through little containers with food and puts whatever he wants on his plate. The food was affluent, it also tasted good, although some pussies whined about its quality. After each one enters and sits on his place, we have 20 minutes to finish our meal and 5 more minutes to arrange all dirty dishes and build a formation outside.
Sometimes we also have lessons, and if i'm not mistaken, we had already 5 of them. Some were very boring, like the one with rabbi, mostly because i'm not religious at all, secondly because he didn't stop talking and it stimulated my willingness to sleep. But we weren't allowed to sleep. Each one who felt he is going to fall asleep has to stand near the wall so he doesn't close his eyes. Ahaha, they are so nice.
In the evening everyone has to wash himself in bathrooms and to call his parents - this is the first time we are allowed to enter our rooms since morning. For all this we have 1 hour, and everyone enjoys this time, cuz there is no another one. After that we get our last instructions, whether they regard our next day or smth else and have 1 minute to go to our barracks and fall asleep.
Also each group of ca.10 people got their private commander, which everyone can ask something or apply for smth. Our group was lucky - we got very nice commander, much nicer, than most of others...
And this is the moment i forgot to tell the most important part. In our division there are 85 people, and around 30 of them are girls. Yes, girls also serve with us, most of them also want to become combat units. I find it very positive, many of them are pretty cute and they raise our moral too :D

That's pretty much for this time. Next time i come home for shabbat i tell you more about what next we are going to do. I will also try to explain more about what type of forces we are going to be. Some of us are going to be in artillery, some of us with smth connected to MLRS etc. I hope you enjoyed, my friends, feel free to comment! :)

Friday, August 6, 2010

The recruitment day

Welcome back, friends!

In this post i will tell you about my recruitment day. Not only mine, there were many of us. I'm also sure other divisions have it same way we had. I will also accompany all this with pictures, which were taken on the base we were recruited (until it was forbidden to capture pics). I've arrived too early, there still was no one there except of me and some guys with vuvuzela, who came to support their friend who also recruited.

Oh, wait, yes, i forgot to mention, i was recruited as combat artillery unit. I have no idea why, my "preference" of becoming an artillery unit was 1 from 5 in the questionnaire i was asked to fill up by the army. Seems like my profile (which is highest, 97) is more important, than my excellect math, english, physics and programming grades. I am very disappointed i got there. I expected something more for myself. Now there is very few i can do with it. But let's continue. After the appointed hour came, the gate opened and everyone came to the inner yard in front of the base itself. There were artillery soldiers greeting newcomers and answering some questions, as well as allotting leaflets with brief information. On the left side near the entrance into the base (by the way, this is exactly the base where i was on my "Tzav rishon" - first order) you can see a panel with name, last name and ID of the people, who need to get on the bus to take them to the army. The bus stood on the other side of the yard waiting for newcomers. Most of draftees came with someone, who accompanied them, so all those people remained standing near the bus, sending their sons and daughters (or friends...) to "better life".  Those pics should give you better idea of how everything went up there (i'm sorry pics aren't arranged good, it's the best i could do with this editor):

greetings for joining the artillery forces

the entrance to the base

the bus is waiting for you, my friend!

the panel where my name appeared

The flag you can see on some of the pics (red-black) is the flag of Artillery Forces. But let's go on! So we are on the bus, we start moving. The bus goes smth like 200 meters and stops. And we are all told to get out, ahah. One of commanders came to us, built kind of formation and told us to put our bags we brought with us to the depot (we all knew we were going to stay in the base at least until the closest shabbat - Saturday). After that everyone arrived into a building, where first of all we were identified, whether those are we or not. Then some medical tests came, brief interviews, blood test, some injections, interview with another commander. This one asked people if they are happy or not, what they want to do here etc. I've honestly told him, that there must be some mistake, i shouldn't be here, i don't wanna, but he told me, that my profile is 97 and my country needs me and there is no way back for now. Everyone also received his army ID card - every soldier should have it every time he isn't in his base, it identifies you as soldiers and gives you a lot of privileges, as well as free public transportation. After that there was a way downstairs to another depot, where everyone received most of his primary army stuff and could try it on him in the cloakrooms right next to it. If something doesn't fit, he could easily change it. Some of the basic stuff each soldier gets: a huge bag, a jacket, a uniform, T-shirts, socks, 2 pairs of boots, many other stuff, a packet with tools for shaving - each soldier must shave himself every morning, a brush for cleaning boots...can't recognize everything now. Then each soldier got a gift - a little bag with some snacks, coffee and other stuff. No one really ate from there, the whole day we weren't in our rooms and finally, when we were allowed to enter, no one wanted to eat anymore :D (more about this in the next post). So now everyone waited for other guys to pass all the stations and then another bus took all the stuff and us to the base, which was placed in a far away galaxy....i mean desert, on the south of Israel, not far away from border with Egypt. So the bus came and we were divides into groups of 6 people in each room, the baracks weren't really that big, we barely had place to stand there all together.

But more on this in my next post. I hope you enjoyed. :)

Welcome, everyone!

Hello, everyone.

My name is Sasha, but i'm more usual when people call me Sova or aka_sova on internet, so i would appreciate that here also. The goal of this blog is to show the world the real face of Israeli Army. Not the one you see on euronews, where impudent israelis "kill" "puny" palestinians and bereave them of their last livelihood, but the view from inside, explaining a bit what serving here is, what soldiers feel about that and everything goes around here. In the beginning, a bit of general information about preparation for the service.
First time people get interacted with army is the period of last grade in school. They receive an order to come to the base (closest base for recruiting) on a certain date. In hebrew it's called "Tzav rishon" - first order. On this day they pass some medical tests there, tests on computer with lots of stupid questions with math, understanding texts (at this stage i had problems cuz hebrew is still a bit unusual for me to read), and understanding orders. Then there is interview with one of the people who sit there, that asks you about your family, interests, friends, what would you like to do in the army and so on. After medical tests each one gets his "profile", that defines his drill - physical capabilities. I'm still not sure there for good or for bad, but I've got 97-th profile, which is the highest a man can receive. With this profile there are many chances of becoming a combat unit, actually the higher the profile is, the more army needs you (surely if you are very smart army also needs you a lot), so many people tried to decrease the number in order to avoid "hard" posts. I didn't do so. I'm very bad at lying. Very bad. But let's continue.
After that you may be invited by different army divisions (like air forces, sea forces) to their base to get some information about what they do and to decide for yourself whether it's what you want to do or not. I got one invitation from Sea forces, for some some reason i refused. I wanted to get what i want, i wanted to mess up with graphics, or physics, programming...soon i will regret that (refusing to attend this Sea Forces event). Then future soldiers receive by mail their recruitment date with name of the base where they have to arrive. For most of people that date comes right after finishing school - in the period between July and August. For males the service lasts 3 years, for girls only 2. After that you can remain in the army and they will pay you you full wage, which is not little if you have advanced during those years. When i finished my 12-th grade, I was only 17, so army had no right to recruit me, and I had one year free. I got recruited only on August 3, 2010. In the next post I will explain to you how recruitment goes. With photos. :)

I hope that was interesting for some of you. Feel free to ask any questions, i would gladly answer them if i know the answer :)