First, some background.
I have been, over the years, to several IDF ceremonies. There are many things – thank heaven – the IDF is good at. Based on my experiences at these ceremonies, I can safely say that parade ground marching is not one of their strong suits. Let me put it another way: if the safety of the country depended on how the IDF marched, we would be in trouble. I don’t know what it is, but there is something that prevents any group of Israeli soldiers marching in time, in line, from one place to the other. They just cannot do it. Start 10 Israeli soldiers marching in a straight line, and you end up with 10 individual, staggered lines.
At least partly, I understand this. It is not important. Nobody cares about it. How well the IDF can execute a parade ground move, has no impact on their skill at dealing with the enemies we have.
Now, there will be professional soldiers out there (and I have met some of them) who will say that parade ground performance is simply a form of disciplined teamwork. They are right. However, that type of disciplined teamwork, doesn’t work here. The IDF – thankfully – seems well able to deliver teamwork without being any good on the parade ground. (Note the absence of ‘disciplined’ from the last sentence.) So, given the situation, we will take battleground excellence over parade ground prancing, anytime.
Bear that in mind before reading on.
In the Times of Israel live blog coverage of Obama’s visit, I spotted this 12.26pm entry as being of interest:
Obama’s plane comes to a halt.
Trumpets blare. The honor guard comes to attention.
Mitch Ginsburg notes: The IDF, never much of a powerhouse when it comes to formations and marches, has put together an 88-member honor guard: 22 IAF flight school cadets, 22 Navy officer cadets, 22 infantry cadets and 22 female Military Police officers. The IDF Spokesperson’s Office relays that they trained for the event for the past three days.
Three days? They could practice for three weeks, months, or years, and there is a fair chance they will still be awful. I dread to think what it was like. I would have preferred it if they had skipped any parade ground stuff. On the other hand, maybe those mis-stepping soldiers will bring a smile to Obama, and give him something nice to remember from his trip here!