Doing What Reserves Do

Archive photo: IDF (Zahal) Spokesperson

An IDF (Zahal) reserve infantry unit prepares to go out into the field, training in exercises and getting to know one another on routine coffee breaks

Date: 22/12/2010, 8:54 PM     Author: Rotem Caro Weizman

“We’ve received reports that stones are being hurled… Permission to use the rubber,” says the voice over the two-way radio. The soldiers sneak up through big rocks to a building where the suspect hides. “Is it someone suspicious?” Asks the platoon commander, “Perhaps it’s his father?” Suddenly, shots are fired from the house. All yell, “Fire Fire Fire” and “Who lives there?” the commander asks his soldiers. The exercise ends and reserve soldiers of the IDF (Zahal)’s Carmeli infantry Brigade continue to the next station which simulates frequent situations of the area where the brigade will soon be stationed.

When they’ve finished the routine coffee break, they move to enemy simulations. Some of the reserve soldiers cover their faces and wave Palestinian flags. “This kind of event happens all the time,” explains the platoon commander about the frequent disturbances, like riots, which IDF (Zahal) forces must disperse. The fictitious rioters don’t settle for pushing and cursing. They have a photographer on their side as well. “Take a photo! Take a photo!” they tell at him as the soldiers try to clear up the riot. The amusing experience does not stop the level of professionalism and the exercise’s perfect execution.

“The daily routine can harm our level of alertness, the exercise is an important part of avoiding that,” explains Sgt. 1st Class (res.) Tzafrir Ben-David, the patrol commander. “There’s a certain amount of tension between people’s desire to come do reserves and the soldiers’ need to be alert.” Tzafrir, a veteran in the reserve battalion, explains that the current exercise helps the overall experience of the battalion, from which a lot of the soldiers were recently released and to which a lot of new soldiers recently arrived. “The company is being rebuilt. On a day like this where there’s a lot of exercises, we go into the routine coffee breaks and slowly start learning where everyone works and studies, get to know the new soldiers and really miss the old soldiers who we served with us in battle. But in any case, soon enough we’re going to be on the field and we’ll create a new bond and a new experience.”

As opposed to Tzafrir the veteran, Staff Sgt. Ben Yigar has only arrived at the battalion, is getting a first impression about the reserve service and is mostly excited about being stationed where he didn’t serve during his mandatory service. “Things are a lot simpler here, people have a good heads on their shoulders. These are the type of people that in a time of war will be behind you. At first, you’re quiet, but you slowly begin to open up.”

“During this exercise we’ve stressed road safety, threat of kidnap and reaching our main goal of protecting the residents of Halamish,” said Commander of the Battalion, Lt. Col. (res.) Eran Cohen. In addition, other points mentioned were dealing with the media during war, ways to aid in humanitarian situations and the communication with international organizations.