Friday, July 3, 2009

A Casual Military

It’s often claimed the Israel has the most powerful army in the Middle East, and I imagine that’s true. This might not be apparent to those observe the IDF (Israeli Defense Force) throughout Israel. The IDF is omnipresent in Israel. Assault weapons are omnipresent in Israel. Almost everywhere you go, you see the IDF walking among civilians. The army is part of the public in Israel. Also, it appears the IDF conducts some training among the public. Sometimes I feel like I’m back in college with the ROTC living among the students. The only difference is that the cadets at Virginia Tech. The difference is that the ROTC cadets were disciplined and weren’t armed. The other day when we left the Holocaust Museum, we passed by a group of soldiers pointing their weapons into the woods. It looked like a drill. Just before that, we saw more soldiers walking, not marching, through the woods. It looked like an IDF field trip. No disrespect intended.

I’m assuming then that training occurs both in designated military zones and in non-military areas. However, I’m not sure that everything the IDF does in Israel can be considered training. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the IDF march anywhere. It’s always been a casual stroll of young adults, carrying what appear to be M-16s, who often appear to be joking or having fun. Many of these groups appear to consist of harmless kids who many Americans would expect to see in college classrooms. The casual nature of the IDF is both disconcerting and comforting at the same time. Disconcerting because these are kids joking around with assault rifles, but also comforting because they don’t appear to be in a constant state of alert. The IDF doesn’t appear to be on edge, so maybe that alleviates some of the stress that might often accompany a constant military presence. The casual nature of the IDF is thus a double-edged sword.

No comments:

Post a Comment