Postings have been sparse lately as I was off doing my annual Reserve duty or “Miluim”.
I completed my 13th year in my Infantry Regiment as Company Medic and was inevitably anxious on the first day to see just what had changed in the Army’s attitudes since last year’s war.
Equipment – improvements are showing already only a year later. On the most fundamental level every soldier’s most important piece of equipment is his or her weapon. Following receipt of our weapons and training on the firing range most of us felt these were the best weapons we had ever received. Gone are the old long M16’s with rattling parts and cracked plastic fore-grips. Each soldier received a newer short M16/ M4 carbine except for the M203 Grenadiers and A2 Sharpshooters.
Many opened their kitbags to find the new style IDF uniforms. Personally, I find these to be heavier and in weather over 30 Degrees Centigrade the fabric seems to increase sweating and associated problems such as heatstroke, sweat-rash and even dehydration. I was really happy I kept hold of my old uniforms.
Training – the pace and seriousness of the training was unlike anything I have seen in 13 years of Miluim except in 2002 when we served in the Hebron region following Operation Defensive Shield. However the doctrine and philosophy has changed at a fundamental level; the slow pace and sitting around are gone. Every minute feels valuable in terms of training and whilst the young instructors have always been good at their job they are finally using clear terms such as “engage the enemy”. Someone remembered that a soldier’s job is to protect the citizenry and defeat the enemy.
In terms of new technology this was somewhat limited but then not much has changed vis a vis Infantry tech since WWII if you discount GPS and or Night Vision equipment.
We were introduced to a replacement for the tired old (sometimes from the 1950’s and passed their use-by-date) Personal Field Dressing although most of us did not receive it. The new bandage is bulkier, elasticated and with a clip that theoretically allows the user to place the bandage one-handed on themself if needed. The old bandage had ribbons in each corner and closing it over an open wound to ensure closure usually required applying it in what the IDF calls the “English Flag” as once the ribbons are tied over the edges and crisscrossed over the center it begins to resemble the Union Jack.
In short, it seems that lessons have been learnt and change is occurring for the better. Perhaps the 7 lean years are over. Here’s hoping we never need to use all this.