Thursday, November 13, 2008

Back to Back

The pancakes were great. Instant hit with the whole family and now I'm sorry I didn't make a double batch. Just as we were finishing dinner, Elie got a call. His g'dud (battalion) is divided into several groups. The first is, I think, made of reservists (I have to ask Elie again). Two other groups are currently stationed at the checkpoint where Elie has spent the last few months. Another group includes the incoming soldiers Elie was to have trained.

So the question that hung over our home the last two days was where Elie would go, what he would do. There were many options. He didn't really want to return to the previous group where he was. He didn't like the way the officers treated the commanders and didn't really enjoy being responsible for so much equipment. Another option was to send him to where the artillery is stored while the soldiers are stationed at the checkpoint. The advantage to this position was that he would be stationed in the middle of the country and come home each weekend. The disadvantage is that is not a challenging position, doesn't involve commanding troops and is, above all else, incredibly boring.

"How are you today, Mr. Armored Personnel Carrier?" No, that would not suit Elie at all.

As Wednesday ended, leaving us only Thursday to close out the week, I had given myself over completely to the concept that the army would not call Elie back until Sunday. Elie and I discussed it and he agreed it was likely, "I don't even have a gun." Before they take him into any unit, he needs to be issued new uniforms, new equipment. That is something that would only be done during the day and likely would wait until Sunday.

As I was making the pancakes, Elie and his father removed the radiator from our small car so that my husband could take it to fix the leak that developed when the fan did something it wasn't supposed to do. The plan was for my husband to get it fixed on Thursday and then Elie and his father would reinstall it Thursday night. They assured me it would only take a few minutes and they actually came to eat relatively quickly.

As dinner was ending, Elie got the call. No, he won't be greeting any armored personnel carriers. He is returning to the g'dud, but this time in the other group. Surprisingly, for me at least, they wanted him back the following morning. Gone was the hope he would be home for Shabbat; gone the idea that they'd forget about him for a week!

This time, he will be assigned specific troops to command, as he was in the north. There are, essentially, two types of "Commanding Sergeants" in his division - ranked as Aleph and Bet (1 and 2 or A and B). The first type is assigned soldiers. (Commander A, basically) That's what Elie was the first time he was made a commanding officer.

Then, the army sent him to the training (first time) and when they had to shift things around and return him to the g'dud, Elie became the second type. This Commander B does the same job as Commander A when at the checkpoint, but Commander A remains in charge of the soldiers even on base, while Commander B is responsible for the equipment and communication. Elie hated that.

So, Elie returns as Commander A with the second group and he's happy about this. The Battalion Commander was there the day Elie left base last week and heard Elie say, "Yeah, I'm no longer in Bet". So, Elie goes back to the same base, slightly different position. If he had to choose, other than the training course, this would likely be his choice. He'll be guarding the checkpoints again, and my consolation prize is that he is once again close enough if he needs anything that I can drive over and bring it to him.

Back in reach - that's good.

Unless, of course, the Arabs continue shooting rockets and mortars at Israel, as they have for the last few days. If so, Elie's group may be called down to Gaza.

Unless, of course, the situation with Syria or Lebanon or Iran changes. If so, Elie's group may be moved to the north. So, now, it's back to the same worries I had last week - of firebombs and rocks, of defending Israel's borders and more.

What was gained from his traveling all the way south only to be sent back to base? The answer is actually quite fine. First, Elie saw again that he has rights and that the army respects him. Second, Elie was repositioned to a job he'd prefer, dealing with a group of soldiers that will be "his." Third, Elie got a day and two nights at home, and a pancake dinner.

Sometimes, it's the simple things that count the most.

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