Junior Soldier (JS) Bradnam recalls the fourth week of his Junior Entry Phase 1 Training in his latest blog from the Army Technical Foundation College, Winchester (ATFC(W)). He’s been on Exercise FIRST STEP, in the snow…
Week 4 started with rather a pronounced bang – as a Sergeant’s inspection rattled though our block – and we all winced. Although the inspection threw a few people to the wind everyone accepted the points that were made and we soon cracked on with the week’s training. The weapon handling test on the Wednesday afternoon was the main focus point at the beginning of the week and the drills etched into everyone’s brains. When the afternoon of the test came there were some fails – the nervous tensions showing through. However, all was not lost and those that needed to re-sat the test and all passed.
Next it was Exercise FIRST STEP, which is an outdoor exercise designed to teach the basics of living and working in an operational environment. We had all been excitedly awaiting the exercise but as the morning of departure arrived a few nervous smiles were beginning to appear. We’d awoken to snow. The phrase “did not know whether to laugh or cry” applied, but in true Army fashion we gritted our teeth, hoisted our bergens onto our backs and pressed on. The moment we reached the training area the nervous smiles were a distant memory as the exercise got into full swing. “Duties of a sentry” and “occupation of a harbour area” were among just some of the lessons being learned.
With all of this new information stored in our minds we braced ourselves and settled down for the night ahead. I personally expected it to be extremely cold. And it was – but the equipment we’d all been issued with was doing its job and we were all kept rather toasty. The morning arrived and with no respite and the day proceeded on with lessons on personal hygiene in the field and methods of tactical movement. Methods of Movement was perhaps one of the most memorable due to the snow however not one of us would have changed the conditions and we would all do it all again! The camaraderie on the exercise is something that I will never forget. I don’t think I would have experienced it anywhere else. It really was second to none.
In no time at all the week came to an end. A Squadron trip to Crowborough for a week of adventure training is now on the horizon. This has definitely put the troop in high spirits and I am sure that week 5 too will be one that I will never forget.