Sunday, May 2, 2010

Ma"kim Break Distance

The squad commanders, known as a Ma"k in the Israeli army, is the soldier's immediate boss, the most junior officer who is largely responsible for the daily details of the soldier's life during basic training. With my most recent round of training coming to a close, the two Ma"kim that have accompanied my team since my first day in uniform said goodbye to us over the last few weeks. Neither goodbye was a simple manner.

The first farewell began when my team was assembled at the base of a hill in the pre-dawn hours and ordered to reach the top as fast as we could. By crawling. Two hours later everyone had reached the peak after waging countless battles against legions of thorns. Brad, our less than personable Ma"k, was waiting for us on the summit with a pot of steaming tea. Inviting everyone to sit down and take a cup, he then told us about his life, childhood, high school education, hobbies, the works.

A few days later my team was readying for a class by our second, more inspiring of our two Ma"kim, Andy. To our surprise, Andy proceeded to whip out a Ka-Bar knife and explain that cutting a baddie's throat was the most effective means of storming an enemy position. Shock was replaced by smiles when Andy dropped the act and instead told us his own life story. Of the many jokes tossed back and forth, the best stories came from Andy as he revealed the many pranks our Ma"kim had played on their Nachal peers during our basic training.

Jokes aside, my Ma"kim were two of my main role models over the first half year of my service. While Brad was my squad's Ma"k I was most impressed by Andy's sharp intelligence and quick grasp of a situation. I can only hope that my training results in my becoming as finely tuned a warrior as either of them.

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