Officer Cadet Todd Ledwith blogs from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, looking back at his tenth week of officer training.
As week 10 draws to a close, it is scarcely believable that we are soon to be a quarter of the way through the Commissioning Course. This week’s instruction has seen something of a shift towards developing an understanding of the external forces which will come to define how we are deployed throughout our careers. Our Defence and International Affairs (DIA) lessons are the forum through which we discuss relationships, security and power on an international scale; although with 16 opinionated people to a class, the discussions can become quite heated. Security at a personal level has also been stressed to us this week. With the proliferation of networking sites such as Facebook or Twitter and video sharing sites such as YouTube making it ever easier for those with intent to discover sensitive information about Armed Forces personnel, it is everyone’s responsibility to remain personally secure.
We were also lucky enough to have another fantastic Company Social event this week in the form of our Company Battle Honours evening. Being a member of Alamein Company, we received an excellent presentation on the battle of El Alamein from the War Studies Department and then moved to the bar for curry and drinks. The entertainment for the evening was provided by us, the cadets, in the form of skits whose subject matter was, of course, our Directing Staff. 1 Platoon’s skit was based around the game show ‘Shooting Stars’, featuring Academy personalities as the team members. I played the role of our Company Commander and, in all honesty, I was rather worried about it beforehand; the though of impersonating a Major is worrying enough without the consideration that he is a senior Officer in the Corps I wish to join, the Army Air Corps. However, initial feedback was positive (although if my blogs cease, you will know why!) and the skits from the other two Platoons had me laughing so hard it hurt. It occurred to me afterwards how peculiar a tradition this is, encouraging cadets to garner laughs with their superiors as the subject, and yet if executed correctly it serves to bring the Company closer together as a unit rather than compromising the system of authority upon which the military is based. I recalled another excellent example of a skit which I was lucky enough to see on a Familiarisation Visit to the Royal Engineers in 2009. The Young Officers who were coming to the end of their Troop Commanders Course had based their skit on an episode of ‘Jerry Springer’ and carried it off brilliantly; having everyone involved laughing all the way through. I also wondered whether this concept is peculiarly British or if other military organisations participate in a similar practice. In any case, it was a fantastic evening that I won’t soon forget.
Next week gives us the chance to learn more about the units we wish to join upon commissioning (and for them to learn more about us) through the system of Regimental Visits. These provide us with insight into the nature of the work of a Young Officer and into the unique character of that Regiment or Corps.