One of my babies, my older son, called from his base last night. This week was to be the span during which the boys in his class were given their assignments, i.e. their military positions. My child was given an extra large gun.
I was never the sort of mother who prohibited imaginary play that included warfare. I realized long ago, that even if one forbids (as I did) one’s kids from using toy versions of arms, that youngsters will still pretend that a stick, a piece from a construction system, or some other such thing, is a weapon. To boot, I insisted that my kids enroll in martial arts courses at a young age, and I hired a private tutor to teach them street fighting.
In balance, I encouraged cooperative play over competitive interactions. Combat skills, whether they were to be used against unknown assailants or to be used against bullying classmates, were to be understood as being my children’s last resort. Not surprisingly, I hate my son’s gun.
His new firearm moves him to the front of his squad’s formation. Apparently, in the world of killing fields, related anti-tank obstacles, minefields, and other deadly unpleasantries, mechanisms with relatively small magazines, and weapons that are semi-automatic, instead of fully automatic, are less auspicious. Consequently, my child’s engine puts him heads over other soldiers.
Also, his small cannon comes complete with an assistant, who will carry his ammunition and spot for him (whether or not that pair will also be aided by a gun data computer, a director, and radar, is yet to be determines). Had my boy been assigned the contemporary version of nasty, he’d be stuck “doing point” all by himself.
Nevertheless, my young one’s powerful shooter calls for him and for his aide to get up close and personal with the worse elements of battle. His assignment places him in a “light,” when accompanied by vehicles, supporting role. He’ll be required to attack enemy troops that are the most immediate and serious threats to his unit.
Sure, since he’ll be hauling around a state-of-the-art fusil, that kid ought to be able to take out not only enemy soldiers, but also lightly armored enemy vehicles. In brief, my boy will have an advantage over guys with smaller weapons when it comes to defending himself. It’s not for nothing that his weapon is considered the most successful 7.62mm cartridge-employing device.
It’s just that in the same manner in which I was less than thrilled when my child sought to enter infantry (instead of seeking a desk job), I am currently less than thrilled that his officers perceived him as the right grunt for “the gun.” I continue to pray that my son will be able to avoid actual conflict. I continue to pray that my son, should he be exposed to actual conflict, has v’shalom, be able to avoid actual hot spots. I continue to pray that my son, should he find himself in actual hotspots, has v’shalom, be able to avoid having to take lethal action. At the moment, all the same, because my baby is possessed of a powerful product, i.e. of a weapon with amazing capacity, he’s likely to find himself in the thick of things.
While I fretted over his increased martial responsibility, I googled his weapon’s manufacturer. To my amazement, the same company that developed his general purpose machine gun also produces “less lethal” whatchamacallits. What’s more, it seems that I’m to be further consoled because that firm fashioned the infamous Browning as well as designed the light automatic rifle.
In spite of those facts, thinking of my boy crawling around a desert, or some other warzone, with a twenty-five pound apparatus, designed for inflicting bodily harm, strapped to him, doesn’t leave me with a lot of smiles. It’s not so much that I wish his gizmo on the back of someone else’s pride and joy as it is that I wish we were not in a situation calling for anyone’s precious to be so encumbered.
At one time, the IDF tried to phase out the sort of arm with which my son will become expert. However, during the Second Lebanon War, our defenders discovered that the would-be replacement machine had neither the penetration power nor the reach that does my kid’s implement. So, today’s squads are armed with both that tried but true monster appliance (standard issue grenade launchers and standard issue personal defense weapons are smaller gadgets than is my child’s new contraption) and its more contemporary cousin.
In light of those data, I am trying to be proud that my son’s higher ups perceived him to be well matched to the big gun. In truth, I’m mortified.