Thursday, August 6, 2009

Golani Pride

I guess this is a post I could have written the first month I was in Golani, but I'm glad I didn't. I'm glad because what was once pride has now become obsession, and these kids are rooted in this world for the next two years, at least.

What am I talking about? The pride of being in Golani. You see, this pride started manifesting itself the first weeks of the army by singing Golani songs, especially "Golani Sheli" (My Golani). It moved from there to wearing the first Golani t-shirt we got. Stickers were found, of course, and those popped up here and there.

But then the 21st century creeped in. Many, if not most, of the guys have some type of Golani background to their cell phones. Here's some of the more popular ones:

One with characters from Gears Of War, a popular video game

Now, all of those above cell phone backgrounds are general Golani. But, once you get into your battalion, you have a specific company with a specific role in combat. I wasn't going to say where I am, but I figured I'd just say in general that I'm in the "Mesayat." I'm not giving away any secrets by saying that name, not at all, but I won't say anything about what it means. I of course won't say what my platoon's role is specifically, or anything like that, mainly as to avoid the whole issue of operational secrecy, etc.

Anyway, now that we're in the Mesayat, all that general Golani stuff is disappearing and being replaced with our company symbol: a rearing horse, since we're the "Wild Horses." Or, this Mesayat symbol:

Anyway, what I really wanted to put a picture up of was something that I knew would raise an eyebrow or two. But, as far as I'm concerned, this is totally in keeping with an infantry unit, and nothing at all wrong about it. You see, we have medics in our unit, of course, and they are constantly being tested by the commanders. One of those tests is preparing a person for fluid injections. I guess if you get shot it's good to get some fluids in you.

So, randomly during gear checks a commander will point over to a medic and tell him to open up some poor kid's vein. Surprisingly, these kids are pretty good at it, so I never mind if I'm chosen.

The other day we all were gathered around as our medics were pitted against each other in a competition of who could prep a person for fluids first. Now, one of the things you have to do when you inject a person is write on their arm the info of what has been done so that a doctor taking over will know what's been done to the patient. That's pretty standard stuff as far as I'm concerned. Now, one of the ways you make due in combat is, errr, to use that person's blood to write on their arm.

So, Golani pride took over in the competition, and one kid showboated. Guess what he wrote?

Mesayat - RESPECT!

That's the kind of stuff people join Golani for. Honestly.


Tim Curtiss said...

Danny, you have not said anything about training on the AFV you are using now. I understand Golani now uses the “Dominatrix” armored personnel carrier. When I was in in ’77 we used the M-113, called the “Grandmother.”

Please tell us what you can about the “Dominatrix.”

Also, I understand you are in the special weapons company. Perhaps you are a sniper there, so I confer upon you the moniker “Danny Death.” I wish you good hunting, and remember, you have to leave some kind of “token” or “trademark” every time you shoot someone. Read the book “White Star.” I will send you a copy if you wish, it is the least I can do.

Someone in Gdud50 said...

Who don't you guys do a maslul? Because of the imuun?

sorry to break your balls but fooling around with blood happens everywhere in the army. That's not a Golani thing.

Israeli by Day said...

Gdud50 - That kind of stuff probably does happen in all the infantry units, but it's what Golani is known for. Stupid, animal behavior. Correct or incorrect?

I claimed it was why people join Golani, not that it only happens with us.

Tim - Did you mean the APC (Armored Personnel Carrier) "Achzarit"? Literally that means "cruel," a female adjective. That is the APC that Golani is known for. We use it, we're all trained on it. It's pretty badass.

The P.O.S. "Nagmash," the M113, is very much still in use. Look at this Wikipedia page:

If you scroll down, it even shows how many each operating country has. America has 10,000+, and Israel is very much #2 with 6,131. As a matter of fact, I may or may not be working on the Nagmash every day at the moment.

Here's a much more professional description of the Achzarit:

Someone in Gdud50 said...

Well, like most unit-stereotypes in our army, the facts are different or the stereotypes are outdated nowadays.

So why didn't you do a maslul?

Israeli by Day said...

Some of those Golani stereotypes are true, though, I'll admit. Are we the dumb guys? Yeah, we are.

We don't have plugat maslul, as is standard for guys going into our platoon in the Messayat. We have a long course to learn about our equipment.

Anonymous said...

Your commander let you take your phone out and take a pic? Just like that.

Israeli by Day said...

anonymous - yup. Once you get past advanced training, 8 months in, you have total freedom with your phone. You can have it with you at all times.

If you're surprised about him allowing us to take pictures, and you haven't seen the video btw, you're out of the loop. What about the american soldiers filming war in iraq? Very common desire to record this stuff.

Its not a big deal to anyone here what you photograph, as long as you don't capture sensitive data (maps, unannounced weapons, revealing locations). After all, its no secret that we draw blood, or have guns, or throw grenades, or run with all our gear, etc.

Tell me what you think.

Anonymous said...

Not surprised just wondering. So your saying that after 8 months you get the freedom + responsibility to use your phone when ever you want.

Amnon said...

Why are you guys so hostile towards pot smokers?

I happen to be a very functional person, and would make a gr8 soldier. I was just wondering what their policy is with testing.

A friend of mine who is already in the army (Duvduvan) said they test once when you enlist and then never again. is this true? or will I be subjected to random testing?

Danny, you mentioned something to my last post about finding marijuana on has never been a problem for me to find bud or hash wherever I am in the world. I visited Israel this past year on birth right, and although bud is not as common, Israelis do have some high quality hash. I also have a med-card to get pot legally here in the states, will that help me at all in Israel? I was able to successfully kick my heroin addiction, and marijuana doesn't seem to be an obstacle for me, I heard they have a unit for potheads (I think its called Nahal...) is this true?

Also I'm a paramedic, so will I be at an advantage to be chosen for the being a medic in my unit? Cause I wanna be a medic, and I'm really good at what I what would I have to do to become a medic?

All that aside, I'm in really good shape and will probably get picked for an elite unit, if drug tests don't get in the way.

Israeli by Day said...

amnon - I unfortunately don't think you're kidding. I'm sorry for your drug problem, and I hope you get cleaned up.

I gotta say, the biggest problem you face is a lack of understanding about armies around the world, not just the idf. You see, not only would you not find pot on an infantry base, if you somehow did, it would be a trick from the army to weed out users (pun - enjoy it). Man, I can't believe you are naive on something so serious.

Haven't you seen army movies? If you got caught, you'd be in jail for 6 months, maybe more. That time doesn't count off your service either. Drugs in an army? Are you joking?

Secondly, a lot of nachal guys read this blog. They are laughing and/or pissed. Its a serious infantry brigade.

Lastly, there are no secrets in the army. You do something wrong, everyone knows. You think you'll keep that from 18 year olds? You think that even your backpack is off limits? Some guy needs this or that, so he's gonna look in random bags. Boom, you're busted.

Man, don't join.

Amnon said...

I appreciate your rational response.
Are you implying that no idf soldiers smoke pot?....Lets say I dont smoke pot on base, just when I have off. That wont be a problem, right (with drug testing)?

Cause I smoked hash out of a hookah at a bar (in jerusalem) once with some nahal guys when they had off. (lets forget about smoking on base for now)

you keep implying that smoking pot is a "problem", you do know that alcohol is more detrimental to your health than pot right?

Anyway forget the whole pot thing, about the medic position in the army, what would be the best way to become a medic? do they take into consideration my previous experience as a medic?

Why do you tell me not to join the IDF? That really hurt. I love Israel. It felt like a punch to my stomach.
I came up with this gr8 idea!
I was also thinking up a plan to stop terrorism the other night. You see Israel gets all its hash from places like Lebanon and Egypt. Unknowingly the pot smokers in Israel are funding terrorist organizations like Hezbolla that use their drug funding to fire rockets into Israel. So my plan is to start a mass growing operation, all underground, like in a bomb shelter or something (so no one smells it of course). And then sell the pot to the pot smokers so they wont buy Lebanese hash and fund terrorism anymore. Now this growing operation wont take a penny profit, rather it will allocate the funds to Jewish organizations (like the Irgun or Lechi from back in the day) that will start reciprocal violence against our enemies (for ex. firing Qaasam rockets back into Gaza). This way the pot smokers of Israel will be able to stop the funding of terrorism, and create an active defensive organization for the Jewish state.
Genius right?

Anyway get back to me and let me know what you think about smoking off base, the medic position, and my plan to stop the funding of terrorism.


Israeli by Day said...

amnon - lets leave the moral or health discussion out. I do have strong views on this that I won't reveal here.

The thing is, if you are a real smoker, like if you're desiring it (lets not say addicted), you're not going to be happy in the army. You're gonna close anywhere from 14 to 21 days regularly, if not 28 depending on if you get in trouble for something (we're talking small things here). So, if you're in this world that I'm in and have a strong desire for something so distant... Listen, in basic training you'll probably not get to smoke a cigarette each day until the free hour before sleep. Some of our guys really suffered. Pot... You won't get that for weeks until you go home.

Becoming a medic is something they decide a month or so into basic. Request it from the beginning, and if you're hebrew is ok and you work hard, are very responsible and get along with your guys, they'll send you to the course. No big deal. To be honest, its probably the hardest role in the platoon. They expect the most everything from the medics (professionalism, competency in role, leadership; etc).

Your anti-terrorism plan is really israeli terrorism. The last thing we need is more reciprocal violence sprouting from vigilantes (sp?).

The thing you just don't get about your life as an infantry soldier in the army is that this becomes the only thing in your life. Your life is the army and your role in it. There is nothing else. You simply don't have free time for anything else, no free time at all. Out of a month, I'm typically home for 4 days a month. So if pot is important to you, you might have to really think about joining. I love video games, but I left my Xbox 360 and HD projector in america. You know how hard that was to do?

Anyway, you need to realize that whatever you do in civilian world will simply be a distant dream. We haven't been drug tested, or even threatened with it, but once you realize how terrible jail would be, hopefully you'll think twice.

let me know what you decide.

Tim Curtiss said...

The pothead can't be for real.

Ruanne said...

Most U.S. Army troops in combat line units are now given Combat Lifesaver Certification - which includes starting an IV, as your photo depicts. It's really hilarious, everyone has to practice on everyone else, and the medics teach the course. I say "teach" but like a lot of Army training, you're just expected to "do" maybe after a demonstration or two. Anyways, it quickly becomes clear who has good veins for this and who doesn't, and who gets faint just at the sight of the needle, and those guys are usually targeted. Good Army "fun" seems to be universal. Writing in blood though, that's something else. :D

TO the marijuana user, I really don't know what the IDF policy is. The U.S. military conducts random urinalysis all the time, especially after people get back from leave (vacation days.)

Amnon said...

Hey Danny thanks for your reply. I'm currently seeing a therapist to be completely clean from drugs. My love for Israel and willingness to contribute to the Jewish state greatly outweighs my love of pot.

I appreciate your info on being a combat medic. Another you know if tanks and other non-infantry units have combat medics? I'm thinking twice about being a infantryman maybe a combat engineer or a tank man, let me know if they have combat medics.

About the "Jewish Terrorism". I hope you know that it was Menachem Begin and his "Jewish Terrorism" that brought Israeli independence from Great Britain. And that it was David Raziel and Yair Stern and their "Jewish terrorism" that put fear in the hearts of Arab perpetrators after years of indifference from the Haganna and their practice of Havlaga. Although it cant be practiced by an official government, Jewish terrorism, when used strategically is clearly an effective form of influence on the ground and in politics. "Terrorism" is probably the wrong term to use, rather "unconventional defense".

One last word on the pot, not that I'm addicted or anything but I'm a week clean today, and I threw out my stash, pipes, and bongs. Thanks again for your blog and you responses to the comments.


Israeli by Day said...

Ruanne - good to hear the US army is pretty relaxed like the Israeli counterpart, at least after training (though you guys DEFINITELY have a different life than us)

Ruanne said...

Yeah, it's actually a lot of fun after your initial training. There's also a lot of ridiculous and a lot of bureaucracy and contradiction. I think that is a military universal. Did you ever watch MASH as a kid?

You learn to keep a sense of humor about it all. The more the situation you are in sucks, the more the guys start joking around. For instance, the mud in Iraq is unreal - the dust has the consistency of talcum powder, and when the rains come it is sticky and everywhere. Naturally, you eventually end up slipping and getting yourself, or worse, you rifle, muddy. At this point, some guys will just hand their weapon to somebody else and roll in the stuff and come out looking like swamp creatures. Then they will run around offering their sergeants big hugs - and everyone is just cracking up. "Embrace the suck," is the saying.

Anonymous said...

I have great respect for anybody in the IDF but especially in Golani. I am 16 and I live in Modi'in/ Israel. My father was in Golani and I would also like to be because I feel that it is the best way for me to serve my country. In the Kravi unit of Golani. There are as of this week, almost 5 people competing for a single open space in Golani. How can I prepare in the next to years, to get that spot in Golani? I'd appreciate a good answer on this one because I've been trying to find out for a long time.

Israeli by Day said...

I did watch mash. Good stuff. You know, we have a small area of israel with that same talcum powder dust. Its so strange - kinda like wet mud when its even dry. Your feet get stuck in it.

Anonymous - I can't really give you any advice on how to get into golani. You've got the advantage that your dad was in. Just make sure you mention it every time you go to the army office. If you can get a high ranking officer to put in a word for you...

Honestly, I got it because I'm an immigrant and volunteered extra time.

Anonymous said...

What do they look for? Does it help to be built? Get good grades? Cmon throw me a bone here.

Israeli by Day said...

bro, I hate to break it to you, but its all random. Besides having direct family in golani, nothing really helps. We have fat kids, tiny kids, giants, idiots, very smart guys, etc. Arsim, ashkenazim, mizrachim. You name it.

Protektzia is the name of the game in israel, and the army is no exception.

Beit Shimushnick said...

I remember when the medics were doing their infamous “intravenous infusion” training and one poor guy with poorly defined veins was laid down. “Oh, no need to tie him off with a rubber band, I can find his vein” our pompous medic Amnon boastfully said, then proceeded to poke the poor guy repeatedly in a fruitless attempt to find his vein.

Spiegel, watching in horror, said “Look at that idiot, he’s cutting him up like bread.” Unfortunately the doctor, a regular Captain, overheard him.

“Amnon, stop f------ around, put Spiegel down there and infuse him” the doctor ordered. Despite Spiegel’s protests Amnon proceeded to do this and a very uncomfortable Spiegel received a liter of plasma because of his big mouth.