Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Little Victories In The IDF

When you finish one stage of the army and start another, you generally get new commanders. So, having moved up to the battalion, I am surrounded by fresh faces telling me what to do. That's not easy when you're almost 25 and these guys are either 19 or 20, and moreover, they don't have a clue who you are.

Little victories over your commander help to ease all the frustration of being so dominated. When someone so completely controls you, it's great when you either show them up, know more than them, or beat them in some physical test. That's a little victory over a commander. So, what's my most recent victory? My squad commander is a great guy, super by-the-books, and in-shape to the point we've already asked him why he didn't go to the best special forces units (Shayetet, Sayeret Matkal, 669, etc).

A few nights ago we did a 5k run around the base, and most of the time I was talking to him. I was running with him, no problem at all, and even thought the pace was a little slow. I could tell he had the competitive desire to lose me in his dust...

As we got within 200 meters of our tents, he said, "Sprint to the end!" Usually I ignore those last minute sprint challenges that they love throwing out. 5k is enough, ya know?

Not this time. As we took off he was a step ahead since he initiated the all-out dash. However, within half a second I pulled in front. And then I proceded to absolutely smoke him.

Let me repeat that: I beat him so badly, when I finally turned around, I couldn't even see if he was still running. He was that far away. That, my friend, is a little victory that you will treasure. But, you won't be able to lord it over him. He is in control of your happiness, after all. It's a silent victory, to be sure.

"Don't be too modest. You're not that Good." -Golda Meir


Anonymous said...

After 3 days I read all the stories you wrote about the Tzava and I thank you for sharing it with everyone who is intrested, as you I'm coming to provide my services to IDF as a paratrooper (hope thers no joke about it lol), my Ulpan begins this August 20 and I have a mix of intrigue and eager for this new stage in my life.
Do you minde telling me the benefits that you haad coming as a lone soldier as I didnt get into those details with the tzava, I hope your answer and once again I thank for all the stories and taking the little time u have to write it down and of course I congratulate you for your achivmentes

Taller than a Hobbit said...

LOL Danny, maybe a silent victory, but then again you ARE here blogging about it;)

Israeli by Day said...

anonymous - good luck. Benefits I can think of opp the top of my head:

- 795 shekel rental assistance
- double salary
- every 2 months you get a you siddurim (a day to organize civilian stuff), but its hard to get in golani, and I never take it
- 400 some shekel from misrad habinui
- 300 some from misrad haklitah
- if you're going home on a friday, they'll usually let you out early (best benefit)
- once a year, you can take up to 30 days off and travel back to your home country

Ruanne said...

Ah, yes, and one of the little victories over folks who outrank you that is actually smiled upon, at least in the U.S. Army. No NCO or officer can fault a guy for outrunning him - ESPECIALLY if he's older. It'll stand you in good stead with that commander, if IDF is anything like the U.S. forces.

Keep on trucking!

Anonymous said...

how much is double salary?
and the 400 and 300 from misrad habinui and haklita is that every month?
Are there girls in your golani unit?

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.


Unknown said...

Hey Danny,
Im from the States... I have been keeping up with your blog from when you were being posted on JPOST. When you declared that you will no longer be writing - I was pretty upset about that... but thankfully, you continue writing (however sporadically). Your posts have a somewhat cathartic element... Although, I dont have the guts to move to Israel, its great reading other people's experiences...(Its better than nothing.)
Because I was raised by Israeli parents who have experienced Israel from the moment of its inception to a first world country, I have a great love for Israel. I have traveled to many countries, and was raised in "NYC"... but Israel is still the best place to be and, for sure, the most dynamic...
I am always in absolute awe of all those people who just pack their bags and make Aliyah...I definitely dont have the guts to just leave my family and move to the frontier (despite me being young (23), fluent proficiency in Hebrew and having 95% of my extended family living there..) So, Kudos and full respect to you.

Anyway, I have a question to ask you... I have read many books of people who make Aliyah and serve in the IDF, but when they were done with their service they came running back to the States... Do you see yourself continuing to live in Israel when you complete your service (Despite the economic and social difficulties that are associated with living in Israel...)?

Regardless of what you do, continue posting, be safe, keep in touch.

Judith Holtzman
Brooklyn, NY

PS I do alot of the ... so just bear with me (...)

Ruanne said...

It sounds like they make a few hundred dollars a month, and get rent assistance. Regular IDF soldiers make half that, near as I can tell, and get no rent assistance, since they'd normally go home and visit friends and family when on leave or pass (that's what we call it when you get to leave for the weekend - "pass." "Leave" is your 30 days off a year, which is separate.)

VERY different from U.S. forces - we make a decent wage. Plus we have free medical care, which most Americans have to pay for. At the end of six years I was making 24,000 a year after taxes - more when in a combat zone, where pay is not taxed and we get extra hazardous duty pay. We also have pretty good education benefits after military service. With the new GI Bill, which covers four academic years of college or university, I'll be getting an equivalent amount in rent assistance as a lone soldier in Israel would get (specifically BAH for E-5 with dependents though that won't mean a thing unless you've been in the U.S military.) Plus, university tuition and fees will be completely covered.

IDF service is really a sacrifice, financially. I would not say the same was not true of service in the U.S. military, not at all.

I am curious about women in the Infantry Brigades. In the U.S. we can serve in Infantry Brigades, as medics, supply, mechanics, intelligence, etc. Just not as Infantry, in the Infantry Battalions. We have separate support battalions, but these train with and deploy with the rest of the Brigade. So we're all on the same base together while we serve. Infantry guys don't see women during their working day, but they can whenever they are released for the night or the weekend. (They train in all-male units for a few months before arriving at their Brigade though.) Women make up about 10 to 15% of an Infantry Brigade, though naturally the percentage is higher WITHIN the support battalions.

Anonymous said...

thanks for your reply, Im the first anonymous that wrote, not the second one,just one more question did u do gibush to enter golani as u do por tzanhanim ? if so how was it?

Israeli by Day said...

Amnon - yeah, i'm sure most semi-combat related units have a medic (artillery, etc)

Judith - I don't think "running back" would be a fair way to put it. Some people move here and become citizens because they want to serve in the IDF as full citizens, full Israelis. That's why they move here, and then afterwards they return.

What am I going to do? Dunno. I'm concentrating on now.

Ruanne - there are women in infantry brigades, as non-combat related people (trainers, for example). There is one co-ed infantry unit, where boys and girls train and serve side by side. That really goes back to the Haganah days, the spirit of Zionism being totally open to all.

Your salary changes, of course, as you go up in rank. It starts out at 300 shek (double for me) or something, goes up to 500, then 700 i think. I think that's the highest it gets. So, I'd get like 1400. I'm not sure at all to be honest. It's, as Ruanne said, not the thing to think about.

Anonymous - there is no Golani gibush, at least not for the battalions. Special forces, of course, has a gibush.

Anonymous said...

was it 500 during training

Anonymous said...

with a roof over my head and meals provided, I would do it for free... with the added care packages of junk food of course!

Israeli by Day said...

Yeah, I think it was 500...but I forget. At the end of the day, most people are in debt during the army.

Junk food helps quite a bit!