An Officer's perspective through training
The Army Officer experience starts far before you reach your first day at Sandhurst, once you have navigated your way through the application process which can take up to and beyond a year from you first applying to the Army. You will find yourself on the intimidating steps of Old College Sandhurst with your family and your ironing board under your arm on ironing board Sunday, which is your very first day of the 44-week commissioning course.
The course is split into three 14-week terms and two weeks of adventure training after the first two terms, Junior Term is all about military discipline learning how to iron, march, use a weapon, and become competent basic soldiers. After the initial shock of capture and the fact you start to realise that the Colour Sergeants are human, you begin to enjoy the course. The intermediate-term is a clear increase in pace, the complexity of the exercise, and command appointments, with some of the officer cadets changing their minds on whether or not they wanted to join the infantry as exercises became tougher and some realising that maybe it was not for them. The later stages of the Intermediate-term are the Regimental Selection Board, this is the main interview stage of officer recruitment the time you interview for the two regiments of which you have shown interest in throughout the course. The Royal Welsh is my obvious choice and thankfully they wanted me as well.
Senior Term is seen as the time to refine your leadership skills and your ability to command especially in the field, with the directing staff giving you more freedom. The term culminates in exercise Dynamic Victory which took place in Germany for my intake, followed closely by the sovereign’s parade and the final celebration of the commissioning ball. The final few weeks of my senior term were disrupted greatly by COVID-19. The ball was cancelled and our commissioning parade being completely unique with no crowd and we paraded dressed in MTP with regimental headdress and 2Lt Ranks slides, the first commissioning course to wear working dress for the sovereign’s parade since the second world war. The commissioning course and the pandemic taught me the need of being completely flexible as a commander as the situation may change at any time and you must be calm and flexible enough to deal with the problem that lays ahead.
Once you have completed Sandhurst, the next step as an infantry officer is attending the Platoon Commander Battle Course in Brecon. Brecon strives to teach and equip you with the skills and tactical ability to lead an infantry platoon, a clear step up from the exercises at Sandhurst. Everybody on the course having a high standard of fitness as well as being motivated to perform in the field as this is the profession in the army which they had decided to join. Brecon being an arduous course, it tests your ability to command under stress as well as your physical ability to soldier while tired and carrying large amounts of weight. Looking forward, I am excited to lead and work with my platoon on exercises and upcoming deployments as well as completing the Armoured Infantry Platoon Commander Course.