“This is what I joined the Army for!”

Officer Cadet Todd Ledwith blogs from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst about his latest experiences of Officer Training which have included crawling through water-filled tunnels on hands and knees, live firing the SA80 rifle and Old College Sunday.

Officer Cadet Ledwith

Officer Cadet Ledwith

The events of this week were summarised succinctly by a member of my platoon. We were crawling through a water-filled tunnel on hands and knees escorting a casualty on a stretcher, when he declared: “This is what I joined the Army for!”.

It has been a hectic week.  We have been running around the local training area, carrying stretchers, wading through marsh and dragging Land Rovers containing ‘injured soldiers.’ As ever this was a role which was convincingly played by the Gurkhas. On top of this we also conducted our first live firing using the SA80 rifle on the ranges. Everyone performed well at a range of 25m although later in the week shooting from 100m proved to be more of a challenge.

Our absorption of other military skills such as the orders process has been less rapid. I imagine that we all have a great deal of work ahead of us before we are able present our orders, late at night in the cold and rain.  To date, getting them right in the comparatively cosy atmosphere of the classroom is enough of a challenge!

On Sunday friends and family were allowed to visit the Academy. Known as Old College Sunday, it is an opportunity to showcase not just Sandhurst, but also the training we undertake.  The visit is also aimed at reassuring our over anxious parents. This reminds me of the enforced letter home at the end of the first week.  At the end of the visit stories were abound of Mothers having serious discussions about the welfare of their son or daughter with the Colour Sergeants over lunch.  No doubt this was much to the chagrin of the Officer Cadets concerned.

This week, details of the Sandhurst Cup were revealed to us. The annual competition is held at The United States Military Academy West Point and pits teams from the United Kingdom, Canada, USA, Netherlands and Afghanistan against one another. It is a demanding and arduous event with challenges focused around fitness, team work, military skills, leadership and shooting. Selection to be on of one of the two 9-strong teams begins soon and competition will be strong.  Spaces are coveted, not least as it entails a trip to the States on behalf of the Army. This year’s team has a lot to live up to as last year RMAS was awarded first and second place.  I have no doubt that the grit and determination of my fellow cadets will see the flag raised high for the United Kingdom once again in 2011.

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