Posted by: TheAuthor | 29/11/2010

Affinity and Camaraderie

One thing that is very hard to explain, is the allure of the Army. Why those who have left want to return, particularly to theatre (a term used to denote an operational war zone in the military) and not just on exercise. In the following words I aim to share and reason why, people such as myself, would choose to go back, if it wasn’t for a strong pull on the outside.

In the western world a lot of emphasis is put on family and friends, fostering strong relationships and bonds with them. I joined the Army with very strong ties to civilian life, both family and friends. Within the Army I built friendships also, ones that would grow as time went on through shared experiences. How many people do you know at home; who would join you from 2am until 4am, in the rain and cold, just the two of you staring into oblivion until its time to return to your basher.

Conversely, in the middle east, or religions within that region, things are different between families. Men are dominant, friends take precedence (after religion) over family – particularly the women. Dying in the name of religion or Jihad is considered martyrdom and therefore a great honour, an opposite belief to the west. The following quote is from an Islamist website, helping to describe what Jihad means:

“Muslims are commanded in the Qur’an not to begin hostilities, embark on any act of aggression, violate the rights of others, or harm the innocent. Even hurting or destroying animals or trees is forbidden. War is waged only to defend the religious community against oppression and persecution, because the Qur’an says that “persecution is worse than slaughter” and “let there be no hostility except to those who practice oppression” (Qur’an 2:190-193). Therefore, if non-Muslims are peaceful or indifferent to Islam, there is no justified reason to declare war on them”

Once you leave, you lose the contact with a great many people with whom you have been through a great deal. A great portion which cannot be explained to those ‘who weren’t there’ and be understood. So you fleetingly think of going back, until you think of the bigger picture; living a safer life; having a family; travelling the world; earning a better wage; freedom. Times become difficult when your friends, still in the Army, deploy without you. It becomes almost an obsession until they come home, wanting to be there with them through the good and the bad, rain and sun boredom and chaos – something I couldn’t truly appreciate until recently.

When you think back on all the great times, it always worth it and I would always talk up joining the Army. Conversely, I will always talk down about getting into fire fights. It was only after no-one got hurt and it was over, did anyone think of smiling. But I would go back, for the camaraderie and the life as a whole – who wouldn’t. Even deploying overseas had its merits, sure you spent the best part of a year away from home – including the training. There is the risk of injury or worse, you learn not to dwell on it. However, for me, being single I didn’t worry about anything besides keeping my weapon; my kit; and myself clean. No need to worry about how often I washed, whether my phone bill was paid, how my hair looks or what to wear on a night out.

Sometimes, as the expression goes, ‘You have to bite the bullet’ and choose whats best for you in life.

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