Lonely Man of Cake

March 1, 2007

Mutiny in Golani

Filed under: Army,Israel — lonelymanofcake @ 3:33 pm

Veteran soldiers of the storied Golani Infantry Brigade have staged a mutiny in protestation of the revocation of some of their “perks” as senior soldiers. (As far as I’m aware, this is an English language exclusive, so read up!)

Here’s some background:
Golani is one of five infantry brigades in the Israeli Defense Forces. At one point in time, the brigade was thought to have had a more “elite” status than the others. Although this has not been the case for some 30 years, Americans (for some reason) continue to perpetuate the status of the “legendary” brigade. Lately, Golani has been known for attracting soldiers who are, how shall I say this delicately, a little more rough around the edges. The brigade is renowned for it’s innovative methods of disciplining soldiers and still, reportedly, hazes soldiers with methods which were outlawed a number of years ago. For example, a friend of mine who served in Golani did not understand a word which his commander was saying; the word was כסדה (kasda) and it means “helmet” (not sure what the etymology is). As a punishment, he was forced to wear his helmet all day; in the mess hall, in the classroom, in the bathroom, etc.

After being in the army for about one year, combat soldiers move to “senior units” which are populated by soldiers in their second and third years of service. There are internal divisions within the senior units based on the date of discharge. The most senior of the soldiers do little, if any, guard duty; they certainly do not wash any dishes. They also get first crack at “choice” missions. The brunt of guard and kitchen duty falls on the “junior” soldiers. This is the case in every brigade. The situation for junior soldiers in Golani’s senior units is probably far worse.

A new battalion commander took over Golani’s 51st Battalion and decided to eradicate the perks of the senior soldiers. In response, tens of senior soldiers went AWOL from the base at which they were training.

My two cents: An army is not a democracy. In this respect, the “familial” nature of the IDF turns into a liability. Soldiers think that they have the discretion to decide whether or not they will carry out given tasks or whether they will obey certain orders. Thankfully, the IDF meted out appropriate punishments for soldiers who refused to obey orders during the disengagement. Otherwise, if every soldier does as he pleases, we would have a complete erosion of the chain-of-command and a mortal blow to the strength of the IDF.

UPDATE: Ynet reports that the mutiny involved approximately 100 soldiers and was caused by far more serious problems than senior soldiers not being allowed to sing in the mess hall.  The case has apparently been partly resolved by Golani’s brigade commander who has sympathized with many of the soldier’s complaints.


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