Sunday, June 18

A soldier's story: Behind the scenes with Israeli artillery (update)

(Update: this feature on an IDF artillery reserve unit's field maneuvers was written a few years back, and reflects a "labor of love" as I was mustering out of the unit after 20-years service. With the current controversy over recent events in Gaza, it is intended to show a close-up and personal side of the Israeli army, rarely reported on outside of Israel, and is intended to balance out recent accounts, especially in the UK - DB)

A recent call-up notice from my army unit once again invited me to join up with brothers - in - arms for exercises somewhere among the dramatic wadis in the sprawling southern Negev Desert.

I was asked to drop everything I was doing at the moment, pick up an oily rifle and a heavy tan duffle bag, and spend some quality time practicing for the big one.

The last few days before leaving for reserve duty are busy: Helping spouses plan the coming stint alone; telephone calls to put off meetings and engagements for work; pulling the dusty military gear down from the crawlspace; wondering what flashlight - radio doodad to buy this time, which novel to stash in the big back pocket of the ammunition-clip webbing.

The last evening at home. Pre-departure tension as I sit alone in the living room, an assortment of camping gear and military odds and ends arrayed on the floor around me; like I'd gone on an L.L. Bean ordering binge - the "Mideast conflict clearance sale" edition. And ritually wondering to myself: "Now, why did I agree to do this again?" And knowing all along I'll probably dump about a third of the cargo back out later near the foot of the bed by my annoyed and formerly-sleeping wife, because everything I really wanted to lug along is just too damn heavy to cram into one backpack.

And finally that last night to softly hold each other in the dark before she is temporarily replaced by a lonely, worn sleeping bag and tools of war.


westbankmama said...

I enjoyed reading this very much - but it is a bit misleading. It looks like you are going to give us an account of your upcoming miluim, but then the article is about a few years ago. What do you think about being a bit clearer in your introduction?

Dave said...

Thanks for pointing that out. I updated to more closely reflect the story. DB


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