Sunday, May 2, 2010

Judging Our Own: First Sociometry!

Our sergeant took leave of us this past week, remarking at the close of an exit discussion that nearly half his unit was dropped over the course of the two year training. "And the first three were dropped at this point in the training." The mood amongst my team could be summed up by one word: oy.

And so the next day, when we were asked to anonymously suggest which three guys least deserved to remain in the unit, the writing was on the wall. The harsh question came as part of the sociometry, a device used within elite military units--and Israeli society at large--to decide who makes it and who does not.

The questions on the sociometry asked us to grade our fellow soldiers on the following categories. I share them because there is no better way to grasp what the Israeli military expects of its top soldiers then by scanning these categories. Most important of all is professionalism. The rest of the categories are as follows: interpersonal success, involvement in group activities, commitment to assigned tasks, command in crisis, personal discipline, personal honesty, motivation, potential for officership, command ability, fitness to be a locham [fighter].

Filling out the sociometry is a harrowing process, all the more so because for the last six months camaraderie and teamwork have been rammed down our throats. Yet suddenly we are being asked to turn on each other, with as critical an eye as possible, and push three of our fellows into the abyss. It could not have been a coincidence that the sky had turned ashen gray with a cold rain, two hours after my peers and I had finished betraying the young men who were our everything for the last half year.

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