Saturday, February 26, 2011

Bitter Pills & Lessons Learned

The final nail in my discarded wish to serve as an officer came this week when the list of candidates for the forthcoming NCO course (course makim) was released. I knew not to look for my name. I was not prepared, however, to see that I was the only one of the soldiers who joined Sayeret Tzanchanim in December not selected for the course. My Air Force pals who came over to Paratroopers and, unlike me, did not drop a draft class on the false promise that doing so was the only path to make it to Makim? On the list. The former naval commando who, like me, was shuffled down into the March draft class? Heading to Makim. And so only I remain in the cold, the twenty-five year old American fryer (sucker), played for a fool and sent down to March to twist in the wind.

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush they say, a bit of conventional wisdom I have now learned through bitter experience. The takeaway, like the proverb says, is it is preferable to have a real advantage in hand than the possibility of a greater one, especially if that greater one is dependent on superiors. My experience over the last few months also taught me that the less time in maslul (training), the better. This is not to say that units with shorter training—like basic infantry—are preferable to more elite units with longer training. The lesson is simply that within a given unit, the Israeli soldier should always strive to finish training. Besides doing the real work of a soldier, post-training soldiers do not get bossed around and treated like underage cons by their superiors.

The other pill I am left chewing over is the random path that led me to my current unit. To wit: After leaving the air force, I decided to continue as a regular infantry soldier rather than sign an extra (third) year required for a special forces outfit. I chose the Paratroop brigade hoping to wind up alongside either of the two guys from my garin whom are serving in the Paratroops. Had I wanted to make it to a sayeret, I would have selected Golani over the Paratroopers, since two other garin buddies are serving in Sayeret Golani. When protekzia dropped me into Sayeret Tzanchanim (the special-forces for the Paratroops) without signing an extra year, I saw no reason to complain. Or to worry when the chance to go to an NCO course propelled me down a draft class, leaving me forever after in my current home, as a class of March 2010, Orev special-forces paratrooper.


  1. Was so frustrated reading this piece. Having played the American 'fryer' many a time, I know how much it hurts to feel like a chump. Hope you know that you're a champ in our book.

  2. Proud of you no matter what you're doing!

  3. How did you get protekzia ???