The Lone Soldier Week 11 – Raw and rugged from Israel’s front lines.
The weekend is over in a whiz and we all head back at base for another stretch of training.
This is the week of the grueling tests. This is when all the soldiers will become ‘Level 05′. Just to explain here a little, you start the army at ’00’, finish Basic Training at ’05’ and Advanced at ’07’. You can train further, if you so wish to take the required courses. This was more of a chilled week compared to the last few, as we would be staying on base and eating food.
‘First part of the test would be the obstacle course, which we were already familiar with. It had to be finished within ten minutes, including running four hundred metres before and after the course, in full gear; helmet, ephod and gun, after waking up at four in the morning. The entire ‘pluga’ headed to the base down the road where the test was to take place. We had to somehow get ourselves into the mood for explosive exercises, but at this time in the morning it was not easy. Needless to say, as I headed off in my group of four, nothing else mattered besides beating this thing.
We started off at a steady but fast pace. By the time I reached the wall, the first obstacle, I was already panting. But, you just gotta charge forth, ever stronger, through ’em all. I’m finishing the obstacle course with crawling, thinking “better keep my mouth closed or I’ll be inhaling dirt,” but I inhale dirt anyway. It’s the last stretch that’s a real challenge. I see my commanders cheering us on and you wanna impress ’em so I just keep on running, but inside I feel like I’m gonna explode. And then the last two-hundred-meter stretch, back towards the starting point and everyone is there cheerin’ you on. Two guys run down to help me. They were yanking my arms and now my legs were moving faster then my heart. I couldn’t breath… I finish…. within the required time…. throw off my gear… I feel like vomiting… my legs are on fire… it feels unreal.
The next few days were dedicated to mastering the knowledge necessary of being at ‘Level 05,’ namely mastering first aid, radio handling, weapons handling, chemical warfare stuff, ethics rules and history of the army, surviving in the field, and the whole shebang. We were practically tested on the weapons handling where we’d be called into different rooms, each with a different weapon, and we’d have to demonstrate exactly how to use it. For example, the Negev, Mag, grenades, and some rocket launchers, plus a thorough written test. ‘Never learned so much in one week. Finishing with another physical assessment test consisting of seventy-five consecutive push-ups, eighty-six sit-ups, and a two kilometer run.
The last night of the week was a ‘white night.’ White night is when everyone stays up all night, and fixes up all the gear for inspection by the ‘mefaked pluga,’ group’s commander. We had to clean all our weapons and make sure everything that needed to be tied together was tied, so that everything was perfect and ready to be deployed in case there was a war.
It was a pretty stressful and annoying task, but was rewarding to see all our ‘machlakas’ weapons laid out orderly in the middle of our ‘chet’, cleaned and ready.
Then the MP came everyone stands still in full gear completely still. The inspection lasts until daybreak and then it’s over, and so is our week. We are now level ’05’ and have two more weeks left of “Basic.”
The Lone Soldier column is a weekly diary of a new recruit to the Israel Defense Forces following his time in service and beyond. E-mail:[email protected]