Only In Israel

Monday, February 14, 2005

Why everyone hates officers.

Don't get me wrong, I don't REALLY hate as in want-them-dead officers, I actually considered becoming one once (before I turned down that offer), it's just, sometimes, it's too much. I don't know if the same attitude is taken towards officers in different armies, but here's my look at it.
As you know, everyone in Israel serve three years in the military, if you want to be an officer, you have to sign in for one more year, and if you want a military career, eventually you sign for more and more years. So an officer is someone who is willing to give up his "freedom" and basicly the return for civilian life for further service in the military. Now, the thing is this, some people in the army, precisely because it's an obligatory service aren't exactly happy to be there. Hence if an officer likes army while his soldiers don't, you have a problem.
Another problem is officers may be less time in the military than you, and have great authority over you. So a guy with less combat experience than you, who doesn't know how things work, and spent his entire life in courses has a huge effect on your life in the military.
Officers always want more from you, to do more, to have lessons in the little free time you have, to have more and more orders to be more pedant on the rules and laws. Nothing really big, but small annoying things. And the higher an officer gets in his rank, the more power he has. And occasionaly, you get the feeling, that the only reason these people are officers is because they would never do better in civilian life.
You usually call that pedantry "faltzanut", which literally translates into "farting" but the closest English translation to that would be "pompousness". Now not just officers are "faltzanim" sometimes, other commanders are "faltzanim" too. It's usually the small stuff like "Hey, if we do a patrol, we might as well walk another mile for your fitness" or "We have to learn about Israeli history, even if you haven't slept for three days straight".
This behaviour prompted lots of military songs, wishing for all officers to die, those are traditionally sung on Friday night dinners which are usually festive because of the Shabbat, sometimes even the officers join in. We all take it humorously, but I have encountered cases where officers were insulted by it.
I wonder if it works the same way in other armies, or is it just because the IDF isn't an all-volunteer army, any of you guys served in other armies and know the answer?


  • I think it is a normal thing, it is in every army - The officers like the power they have.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:49 AM, February 22, 2005  

  • All officers in all armies do that, largely because they have to. The difference comes when the officer enjoys laying this stuff on you. In the United States Army, this sort of enforcing regulations for the sheer fun of enforcing them is called chickenshit and the officers who do it are called pricks. No one blames a good officer for having to enforce regs he may think are stupid too; the difference is that the pricks like enforcing the regs because it makes them feel powerful

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:45 PM, February 22, 2005  

  • In australia officers are selected from university graduates. So while the soldiers attend boot camp and other training the officers spend 3 years at military university and then command. Israely sistem is better, because the officers know what its like to be a normal soldier.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:10 PM, February 25, 2005  

  • It depends on both the military and the officer. Smart officers listen to the their men and at least know the pulse of their troops - they're not machines. Sadly there are too many officers who think that their rank entitles them to knowing what is best in all situations and that they should be served by others. They are the people who don't know their duty and that the true role of an officer is to serve. One who fails to serve is a failure as an officer.

    By Anonymous US Navy Chaplain, at 11:42 PM, March 22, 2005  

  • I understand that in the US military, officers don't start as soldiers. How do they manage to handle commanding troops like that, not knowing what it's like to be a soldier first. I can't imagine that one.

    By Blogger OnlyInIsrael, at 8:47 PM, March 27, 2005  

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