An Army Like No Other

Elie came home last night. So dirty from a week in the field; so tired from lack of sleep. He was, once again, too tired to really eat anything and exhausted enough that all he wanted was a shower and bed.

We had a few minutes to talk on the ride home. He’d brought me mud, he warned, and we talked of his laundry and what needs to be washed with what.

“How was the Golan?” I asked him.

“Muddy,” was his answer.

“Did you do any shooting?” I asked him. He was supposed to have assisted in a training exercise for paratroopers, but I had heard of fog in the north several days and assumed that the conditions were too dangerous for at least part of the time to allow for this.

“No, not at all,” Elie answered.

“The weather was that bad?” I asked.

“No, today the weather was fine.”

“So why didn’t you shoot today?” I asked.

“Cows,” Elie answered.

Um…one of my concerns with having a son in the artillery is that the loud booms of the cannons, even with ear plugs and the thick ear protection the army offers, will damage Elie’s hearing. I didn’t think anything would happen to his ability to form words and so I asked for clarification.

“What?” I asked.

“Cows,” Elie answered again.

“Cows?” I asked. OK, if his speech is fine, it must be MY hearing.

“Yes,” Elie said.

OK…cows.”

You see, cows had wandered into the firing range where the practice was going to take place. And so the army canceled a major exercise, lest the…the cows, be injured.

“Couldn’t you…like…call their owners and tell them to move them?”

Ima, the Golan is full of cows,” Elie said simply.

Would other armies cancel an exercise for this reason? Man and machine had been brought to the Golan for this exercise. There is a cost to all things in the army. Money to move equipment, officers to oversee, planes flying, and so much more. For a week, Elie and his team were stationed ready to offer the necessary backup for the paratroopers to have their exercise. A simulation of real war. Smoke, explosions…and, apparently cows.

I can’t see Hamas or Hezbollah caring about a bunch of cows; I can’t see NATO rescheduling a massive training event. I just can’t see what my ears knew I’d heard.

This week, my son came home with clothes filled with mud. Despite a massive rain storm, the worst of the season, the army was ready to proceed with an important exercise. The storm – hail and rain, wind and fog, didn’t cancel the exercise. It only delayed it. In the end, it was the cows.

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