You’re in the Army now: ‘Stand to’ for Exercise Halfway

Recruit Andrew Vaughan.

Recruit Andrew Vaughan.

My name is Andrew Vaughan, I am 25 years old and this is my story so far. I have just finished my seventh week of Phase 1 training at ATR Winchester where I hope to go on to join the Royal Artillery.

 

Week 7

Monday

After a great long weekend, the first thing we had on our agenda was the high wire. I’m not great with heights and had been dreading this for a while! We were briefed, strapped in and off we went. We took smaller obstacles first and then eventually the high wire itself came.

A very nervous climb, and I was on top of the platform where I fell to pieces. Hyperventilating, a lot of hesitation and a self-slap to my face to man-up occurred yet still I didn’t jump. After what must have been 5-10 minutes, I eventually managed to drop where the rest of the Troop applauded me, which I appreciated immensely.

Straight after a stressful start to the week was our first go on the outdoor assault course. The 6-foot wall is a killer, the 12-foot I’m dreading. A good workout session though and a lot of fun too, a good distraction from the high wire previously.

Afterwards, we learned about the Laws of Armed Conflict (LOAC) and the Rules of Engagement, and then finished off with a military knowledge test – a test quizzing us on the variety of things we’ve been learning from week 1. I don’t think I did too badly, but we’ll see!

Tuesday

We started off with some map reading, this time relating the map to the ground. A lot of map reading is beginning to go over my head, but thankfully we have both our permanent staff and also our best books to consult. Better hit the books.

Another C-IED lesson where we were taught what to do should an explosion occur. The amount to remember to do when chaos is occurring is daunting.

Endurance training for PT today, which involved max effort sprints around the playing field. We started off doing relay 400m sprints followed by 200m and then 100m. We were absolutely hanging out by the end of it, and then we had core exercises such as sit-ups and crunches to finish off with.

Our CBRN lesson taught us how to adjust our respirators for our personal use and how to don and doff said respirators correctly. We were then told we would go into the chamber filled with CS gas, in order to give us confidence that the equipment works. Half of us were nervous, the other half including myself were strangely excited.

Outside the chamber, when trying to tighten my mask, I pulled the strap incorrectly and broke it. I was now about to enter the gas chamber with a broken respirator. Brilliant. The signal was given and in we went!

We had to walk around the chamber and the others did exercises whilst I was taken to one side just in case. Thankfully the gas hadn’t affected me at this stage and I was up first to take the respirator off. One deep breath and off it came!

The Corporal asked me my name, rank, number and then a bunch of other questions. I’m not sure whether the gas level had thinned at this point or that I’m not as vulnerable to CS as some of the others (probably the former) but I managed to last a very long time in the chamber.

Eventually though, my face was on fire and breathing became harder by the second, I was allowed to leave and the fresh air on my face was both amazing and horrible. I walked up a hill and patted down my kit and sat back to watch the other lads leave the chamber in comical ways. An interesting end to the day.

Wednesday

In the morning we had our bergens checked as today we were off on Ex HALFWAY – an exercise that seems to bring smiles to the faces of our permanent staff when mentioned – a worrying sign.

After being dropped off and tabbing for a while, we were briefed by our Troop Commander and then took it in turns to apply cam cream and grass up our helmets and webbing. Upon trying to pick up my Bergen to move out, one of the arm straps completely snapped off. Brilliant. 2 items in 2 days didn’t bode well for me. Luckily our Corporal made a makeshift knot which would hold for a while, and I had to leg it forward to my section.

We set up our harbour area and then were taken for lessons. These lessons included how to judge distances, how to draw range cards and how to call out enemy positions – a skill we would need for our section attacks which would follow in the exercise. To finish off, we had our evening meal and set up our bashas, beginning our night-time stag rotations.

Thursday

A terrible start to the day as me and half our section weren’t woken up at 0430 hrs, a poor move from whoever was on stag! This left us unable to get ourselves ready for ‘stand to’ in time and re-education followed!

After re-education, we were to conduct our morning routine – something I still struggle to complete in time. To make it worse, due to being on stag last with minutes to go before inspection, I quickly rushed to dissemble my rifle for inspection and didn’t take the magazine off. Simply put, I could’ve had a Negligent Discharge (ND) – a huge deal in the Army. I won’t be making that mistake anytime soon.

We spent a good portion of the day learning firing manoeuvres and how to both suppress, approach and assault the enemy in a firefight. We started off in pairs with one man providing cover whilst the other advanced and then vice versa. This eventually grew into two groups of two, and finally finishing with the entire section attacking. It took quite a while to get the hang of it but we got there in the end. Once there, we then also learned how to withdraw and also how to peel left and right. The process is in itself exhausting but the adrenaline and excitement keeps you going.

Exercise Halfway.

Exercise Halfway.

We came back and had photos taken both as a Troop and also in our respective sections which was quality. A smoke grenade going off in the background was also a nice touch. After lunch we were taught about how to describe an enemy and also how to describe a vehicle using different acronyms. Afterwards we had some time to rest or complete personal admin – mine was spent cleaning the rifle, an activity I really cannot seem to get good at for some reason.

We went on patrol and were suddenly under attack. We used what we had been taught and managed to locate, suppress and attack the enemy. Afterwards we moved in and began to search the enemy position.  I was given the job of covering the enemy soldier. After that we were all buzzing from the experience and finished our patrol in high spirits.

After dinner, our Section Commander decided that we were going to go on a night-time recce (reconnaissance) patrol in order to gather intelligence on the enemy, using the enemy description techniques previously taught to us. We used the cover of darkness and the long grass to make our way to the enemy’s position without being seen. Despite light flares going up (and us using a previous lesson to avoid detection) we managed to get close enough to be able to take down a faint description of the enemies and their harbour area. We had been previously warned that there was a threat to anyone who got themselves caught so we were all as stealthy as possible. Luckily, we were in and out without being seen and made our way back to the harbour area to sleep.

Friday

After our usual stand-to procedure, we got ourselves ready for our morning inspection test. Out of 27 of us in the Troop, 5 of us passed – myself not one of them. For some reason, I truly cannot seem to be able to clean the rifle properly and at this point I was beginning to lose faith in myself. The 22 of us who failed were treated to a stern warning from our Troop Commander about the unacceptable level of failure. Exhausted, I collapsed in my shell scrape and began to self-reflect. Despite knowing I can only do my best, my best needs to get better – sharpish!

Afterwards we were taught about the 6 section battle drills which is, simply put, a step-by-step process on what actions to take starting from preparing for battle right through to regrouping after the battle is won. These 6 steps put into place everything we have been taught so far and now we can see it all coming together.

We were taught how to search enemies and enemy vehicles and were soon off on patrol to practise. Before long a vehicle came our way and we were given the job of stopping the vehicle, gaining the passengers’ cooperation and searching all parties. My input was severely limited for this as I was tasked with watching the road for more vehicles – however from what I heard our section didn’t do too badly.

We went off on another patrol and made our way to a bridge. It wasn’t long before most of us spotted the enemy and the firefight began. We used our training and despite a few mistakes managed to win the firefight. We began to search the enemy when one Recruit searched a bag to discover a grenade. BOOM! Casualty! We then had to casevac a stretcher with 4 huge Jerry cans up a hill towards the safety area. I was one of the first four to carry this extremely heavy casualty and from prior exhaustion from the battle kicking in – it wasn’t long before I was drained. To make matters worse, one of the other four dropped the stretcher, bringing me down heavily with it! We picked up the stretcher and carried on evacuating, however by this point I was done. I was at the back jogging at what can only be described as a snail’s pace and eventually my Section Commander had to literally push me up the hill in order to make it. Not a great feeling.

That evening we were briefed on how we were going to launch an attack on the enemy at 0315 hrs, with each section providing a different role in order to effectively destroy the enemy and then went back to our routine. Unfortunately some recruits on stag were caught asleep and we knew trouble was coming. All of our Troop were marched out into the field where our Corporal explained the severity of sleeping on stag – something I have come close to doing myself to the point but thankfully not! Willpower and coffee granules work well for me. Halfway through the Corporal threatening to have the next sleeping stag thrown off the exercise, the scene was then topped off by a sudden thunder-storm hitting us. Not a cloud had been in the sky throughout the entire exercise and it seemed quite fitting for the weather to change at that precise moment.

Absolutely drenched, we set up our bashas in the dark and went about trying to get our heads down for 0315 for a mission which now had an extra level of difficulty attached with the sudden climate change!

Saturday

It felt like my eyes had only just closed when suddenly the place erupted. “STAND TO!” – the enemy had launched an attack on us! We all got into our positions and began to fire upon the enemy lurking in the treeline trying to approach our position. Smoke grenades had been thrown into the harbour area, enemies were everywhere and the place was generally hectic! We managed to push them back, but we knew it wouldn’t last long.

After a while I heard a crunch of grass eerily close to my basha and I looked to the right. About a hand’s distance away was an enemy’s silhouette –  I roared “enemy on my position” and began to open fire, thankfully causing the enemy to flee back into the woods.

The firefight continued for ages until eventually trip flares lit up our harbour area and the sound of loud explosions simulating mortar fire were upon us. Our Troop Sergeant screamed at us to get our kit on our backs as we were moving out. We grabbed our stuff rapid time and evacuated the harbour area, keeping on the move until we were well away from our previous area. After a personnel check, it seemed a recruit had lost his rifle! It turns out that the rifle was taken off him during his sleep in order to instil the habit of having the rifle at arms distance – in the sleeping bag with you if sleeping!

Eventually all our Troop and their rifles were accounted for, and section by section we moved off. Our section came under attack on a path and we used the peeling method in order to push up and then back down the path whilst providing effective fire towards the enemy. This we were pretty good at and marked the end of attacks for the exercise. We had a chance to change into dry kit and pick up any brass cases we could find from the attack. We made our way towards some woods, set up some covering bashas and went to work on morning routine whilst waiting for the coach.

After hot scoff and a futile attempt at cleaning the rifle, we made our way back to the coach. Back at camp, we started washing all our kit for a kit inspection on Sunday. This took a good portion of the day, with mud and dust in high abundance back in our block by the time we had finished. After sweeping the floors numerous times, our area began to return somewhat back to normal. Hopefully the effort put in would be recognised tomorrow.

Sunday

Our kit inspection wasn’t fantastic, with my webbing still having some dirt in but some others had crimes much worse. We felt the wrath of our corporals and were informed of a full locker inspection on Monday. Straight back into the swing of things it seems!

After some admin time, we were given the magazines and BFAs from the exercise, which had to be cleaned. After one glance it was clear why. A few days in the field and they were infested with rust and carbon. We took 3 each and went to work on cleaning. Just like the rifles, I’m not great at cleaning magazines and by the time I had cleaned three to a high standard, others had completed 6 and above. I’m praying I can improve on simple tasks like this soon. Overall it’s been a tough week but I’ve managed to get this far and I’m determined to go the whole way with extra effort going into the areas I lack in. Starting with rifle cleaning!

 

Visit Recruit Vaughan’s page and read about his journey

Find out about joining the Army

Find out about ATR Winchester

You’re in the Army now: Pride on parade before hometime

My name is Andrew Vaughan, I am 25 years old and this is my story so far. I have just finished my sixth week of Phase 1 training at ATR Winchester where I hope to go on to join the Royal Artillery.

Week 6

Monday

Recruit Vaughan

Recruit Vaughan

We started the morning by getting sized up for our No 2 Dress, the uniform we’ll be wearing for pass out. Very smart!

Next was a lesson with the Padre on the ethics of the Army, and shown a clip from Platoon highlighting the vast difference of what’s right and what’s wrong as military.

More drill with 2 section commanders who corrected minor mistakes a lot of us are still making.

Finally a code of conduct lesson with our Troop Commander who informed us what we can and can’t do during our long weekend.

Tuesday

Today was spent mostly on the ranges zeroing our rifles to ourselves. Apparently my grouping was pretty good, which I’m happy about.

After cleaning our rifles and handing them in to the armoury, we had drill. Here we practised what would be happening on Thursday and our last attempt was really good according to our Troop Sergeant. Happy with that!

Troop Commanders locker inspection tomorrow. I hope we impress him!

Wednesday

Our locker inspection didn’t go too badly today. However, a spare locker some of the section use for storage was also inspected and let us down.

For PT, we had another indoor assault course in preparation for the outdoor assault course, which we would be tackling next Monday. The session was, as usual, intense but rewarding – apart from somehow getting a drawing pin in my toe, which stopped me completing the last lap. My luck is horrendous.

Functional skills and then last bit of drill before the big day tomorrow. So excited to see my family and I’m praying I pass my drill test! Long weekend to look forward to and a well earned rest!

Thursday

Huge day today; one we had been looking forward to for some time. In the morning we got into barrack dress, making sure we looked immaculate. Due to time constraints I only managed to properly bull one shoe, I hoped it would be ok though.

After a kit inspection, and a quick iron of my sleeves, we were marched to the square for our drill test. Our troop were first to do this test and we all wanted to pass with flying colours.We were put into open order and had a kit inspection from the Regimental Adjutant. My kit was apparently quite good other than one shoe being evidently shinier than the other. Damn! Despite a couple of hiccups our Troop all passed! Morale soared and we knew we were getting our cap badges in front of our families, a great feeling.

The recruits on parade.

The recruits on parade.

We completed some admin to kill time and then back to the square for the ceremony. We marched on as a squadron, marching past our loved ones without daring to look at them lest we make a mistake. Thankfully nothing of the sort occurred, and one by one we received our prized cap badges to rounds of applause. The self pride is indescribable and I can’t imagine how I’ll feel at pass out!

After matching off the square, we were finally allowed to see our families. After lots of hugs, each troop then had to put on a demonstration to our families giving an insight into the sort of things we’ve been learning the past 6 weeks, from our different uniforms to ration packs to setting up a basha on exercise. It’s a nice touch to be able to show off our newly acquired knowledge.

A quick change into our civilian suits and we were free to go! A 3 hour drive home and a curry with my friends to cap off one of the best days I’ve had in a long time.

See you on Sunday Winchester!

 

Visit Recruit Vaughan’s page and read about his journey

Find out about joining the Army

Find out about ATR Winchester

You’re in the Army now: First Step, football and feeling good

My name is Andrew Vaughan, I am 25 years old and this is my story so far. I have just finished my fifth week of Phase 1 training at ATR Winchester where I hope to go on to join the Royal Artillery.

Week 5

Monday

Recruit Vaughan

Recruit Vaughan

Today was spent on the ranges, only this time we were firing at ranges of 50m and 100m. Going by my previous poor efforts I wasn’t feeling very confident. Before we got started however we were given the opportunity to bore sight our weapon to line up the sight to the aperture. Mine was way off! Hopefully this would explain my woeful accuracy.

We were divided into two groups and our group were first up to go behind the range as “Butts Party” which involved raising the targets and patching up the holes. This gave us the opportunity to relax for a while and have some coffee on a wet Monday morning, which was awesome. I’ve never enjoyed Mondays before in any previous job; this is a refreshing first!

Our time came and we took turns firing at the different distances in different positions. I later found out that I was hitting the white patch of the target more often than not at 100m, which has filled me with confidence that perhaps I’m not as terrible as I thought.

The rest of the day was spent waterproofing our kit and packing our bergens for Exercise FIRST STEP. A good few hours went into this, forgetting kit for exercise isn’t advisable!

Tuesday

We spent the morning unpacking our bergens and showing our Section Commanders that we had all our kit. Once all was confirmed, we set off for Exercise FIRST STEP.

We arrived at our harbour area and were taught how we occupy one, then proceeded to do so. We were also taught about fire control orders, snap ambushes and sentry duties to name a few. We set up our bashas, cooked our rations on our hexi cookers (which tasted awesome) and began stag rotation. My shift was 0100-0300 hrs. Staying awake was hard work but not as hard as finding my way back to my basha in the pitch black! A long, fun and educational first day.

Setting up our bashers

Setting up our bashers

Wednesday

Reveille at 0430 hrs and after ‘stand to’ straight into morning routine. This involves cleaning your rifle, wash/shave, boots and breakfast. It hadn’t stopped raining and the mud hindered us slightly. We failed our morning inspection and were debriefed by our Section Commanders; a good start to the day.

Lessons came thick and fast where we were taught hand signals for patrolling, firing manoeuvres, monkey runs, and casevacs to name a few. We were able to practise firing manoeuvres with blank rounds which was good fun and were also treated to a demonstration on how to suppress the enemy; something we can look forward to during Exercise HALFWAY.

After dinner and lessons I took my position for stag duty at 2100 hrs. Stand-to was called and I had forgotten to pack my roll mat onto my Bergen. Others had made similar mistakes and we were all disciplined by our Section Commanders. Lesson learned however.

Once we’d finished our ‘re-education’ we went straight onto a night patrol; using our hand signals to keep silent and also incorporating our map reading skills, which was useful. After the patrol, I had the job of setting up my sleeping area in darkness, a skill I need to get used to sharpish! With casevacing, leopard crawling and furious note taking, I was out like a light once I finally found my sleeping bag!

Thursday

Up again at 0430 hrs, this time with more sleep and a better understanding of what needs doing when. A frantic morning routine took place and I thankfully wasn’t scrutinised too heavily when inspected. Phew!

Before we left our harbour area to head back to camp, we had to erase any evidence we were ever there. This meant taking down our bashas, destroying the sentry positions we had made and removing tracks. After that we set off.

When back at camp, we were tasked with completely cleaning our rifle of carbon, dirt and rust. Carbon gets everywhere. Every time we thought we had our rifle clean, our Section Commander would instantly find more carbon!

Eventually our rifles were to an ok standard and returned to the armoury. We then had PT which was an intense swimming session. Muscle-ups and in-outs (in and out the pool quick-time) were the name of the game and we were even more exhausted than before.

The final task was to climb up the diving board, turn around and fall backwards. For some reason, the idea of doing this didn’t agree with me at all. I couldn’t breathe and began to violently shake. My first panic attack – brilliant. The PTI saw me and managed to calm me down, but I now felt like a wimp in front of my troop, not a great feeling. Wanting to face my fear, I ended up jumping off the board a few times normally. Still felt like a let-down though!

After swimming we had drill to try and polish up our skills for our drill test next Thursday. We want to pass, but we also want to be the best troop. Fingers crossed!

Friday

In the morning we had sports for PT where our troop played football. I prefer this sort of exercise as you’re not as aware how much running you’re doing. The downside is I’m horrendous at football. With a last minute winner (which I even contributed to – sort of), our team won 7-6. Happy with that!

Afterwards we had another lecture on military law where we were told about chargeable offences such as falling asleep on stag. Must make sure not to let this happen to me.

We had an evening drill lesson, again just to brush up our skills. The downside to evening drill is the uniform. A heavy green jumper which itches like mad and made me heave just putting it on – a sight my section enjoyed immensely! After drill our time was our own. Admin it is.

Saturday

In the morning we weighed our webbing and bergens for our first 10kg TAB (Tactical Advance to Battle). This is basically a fast-paced walk with bouts of jogging thrown in. None of us found this too bad, which is a good sign, although we all know this won’t be the case for long!

After this was more drill, something we’re all now not too shabby at.

Sunday

Today was our first opportunity to deal with the public as the face of the British Army. We were to act as marshals during a 26-mile charity run for Naomi House Children’s hospice in Hampshire – a very worthwhile charity.

Me and another recruit had checkpoint 28, five miles from the finish line and so would be trying to give the runners that last bit of encouragement needed to get them to the end. During our stint as marshals, we had kids waving at us, adults smiling at us, a local resident even brought out coffee and homemade cookies to us. It’s a really good feeling doing a job which is appreciated by so many and I’m prouder than ever to be doing what I’m doing.

Despite being a long day, I’m glad we did it and glad we were able to help out towards such a good cause.

 

Visit Recruit Vaughan’s page and read about his journey

Find out about joining the Army

Find out about ATR Winchester

You’re in the Army now: Realities of War

My name is Andrew Vaughan, I am 25 years old and this is my story so far. I have just finished my fourth week of Phase 1 training at ATR Winchester where I hope to go on to join the Royal Artillery.

Week 4

Monday

Recruit Vaughan

Recruit Vaughan

Week 4 began with PT in the morning. Today involved outdoor circuit training which is increasing in difficulty each time. The session was tough and together with the heat, we produced a lot of sweat!

We had functional skills after to brush up on our presenting skills prior to our presentations tomorrow during our Realities of War trip. We’re all looking forward to leaving camp for the day and being in the outside world for a while!

After that was DCCT where we had to take shots in the sitting, kneeling, squatting and standing positions. These were killer and again I failed on my first attempt, however, I passed on my reshoot. I’m still gutted I couldn’t pass first time and will have to practice these positions in my own time.

The evening was spent preparing for our trip tomorrow and I was sound asleep by half 8!

Tuesday

Today was our Realities of War trip and after breakfast we all boarded the coach to the Army Medical Services Museum.

After a quick snooze on the coach, we had arrived. We filed into a classroom where our Troop Commander and one of our Troop Corporals spoke about some of their experiences of human losses from tours they had been on. This was to tie in with the theme of the Realities of War and that death is unfortunately a huge part of war.

We were introduced to a retired Major who had spent “36 wonderful years in the Royal Artillery” (our chosen cap badge) and who gave us a lecture on the First World War. His knowledge is incredible.

Our Realities of War trip to the Army Medical Services Museum.

Our Realities of War trip to the Army Medical Services Museum.

Off then to the Museum itself where we learned how far the Army has come medically since the First World War. A fact I found fascinating was that if you broke your leg in WW1, you had an 80% chance of dying. Wow.

From there we went to Brookwood cemetery, the largest military cemetery in the UK. Despite being a place of great sadness, it’s also absolutely beautiful and I had a lump in my throat the whole way round. We had a small remembrance service with the Padre and were then shown around the cemetery. The cemetery is split into different sections depending on the nationality of the deceased and after visiting them all, we were given a small cross to place in front of any grave we saw fit. I placed mine in front of Captain G.M.R Vaughan-Sheehan.

We returned to camp and gave presentations as sections using prior research and information gained today.

Wednesday

With our webbing packed from the night before, off we went to Worthy Down to tackle the ranges for our first live firing session!

Unfortunately, the Army carries out almost everything alphabetically and as my surname begins with V, I’m always last! This time was no different and had a while to wait, I spent this time however, brushing up on my BCD drills. There’s always something to do here, being idle is looked at as a sin!

During the Realities of War visit.

During the Realities of War visit.

My turn arrived and it was time to fire Roy with live ammo for the first time! My DCCT sessions have shown that I’m awful at shooting and nerves quickly set in. After carrying out safety checks we were given the command to LOAD, MAKE READY and get into the various firing positions. The recoil caught me off guard the first few times!

Live firing on Worthy Down Ranges.

Live firing on Worthy Down Ranges.

After completing our firing, our groupings were measured and I managed to pass all except prone and sitting and straight after I retook them. Thankfully, I managed to pass this time and felt a huge sense of relief!

Ended the day with an inspection with one tomorrow to follow!

Thursday

I started the day with my second and final dentist appointment. This unfortunately conflicted with our PT session of the day and I’m surprised to hear myself say that I’m actually gutted I missed PT!

Next up was drill – in a thunder storm! We gathered under shelter until it died down a little, but watching rain bounce off the parade square was a strangely beautiful sight. Just praying it doesn’t do the same on our pass out!

After drill was another lesson with the Padre who spoke to us about loyalty and selfless commitment – two huge values in the Army.

We finished with a BCD lesson on bleeding and breakages. We practised applying field dressings on each other and that was us done for the day.

Friday

First up today was SAA where we were taught about how to shoot crossing targets. I currently struggle to hit stationary ones however!

After was PT – our first boot run! This included hill sprints, static runs and push ups for our lack of enthusiasm! Very hard work, but no pain no gain and in this particular instance I gained a lovely blister for my efforts!

We concluded with a map reading lesson where we took grid and magnetic bearings with a compass. It’s all starting to make sense now and I’m looking forward to applying these skills on our next exercise.

Also as an added bonus, we received our peak caps today. They look awesome!

Saturday

Today was very relaxed in comparison to the week.

We started off with PT. Saturday Circuits! We warmed up in a humorous way, with our PTI getting us to imagine we were kayaking to a private beach where we could order a cocktail from a barman. This scenario involved several exercises such as steering the kayak, climbing a tree, throwing down a coconut and smashing said coconut. By the end of it our water tasted as good as a cocktail! We then entered the gym and saw a multitude of mats on the floor. Each mat consisted of an exercise including squats, sit ups, press ups and, of course, burpees. A gruelling hour and a half later and it was over. Although horrific at the time, I am beginning to feel good after PT!

We were then given our first CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear) lesson which taught us the basic theory on what these all are and their devastating effects.

After that was pure admin for the day! We spent some time in the Welfare Centre and enjoyed having some time to relax!

Sunday

A whole day of admin today. We spent it preparing our bergens for Exercise FIRST STEP which is coming up on Tuesday. Can’t wait!

 

Visit Recruit Vaughan’s page and read about his journey

Find out about joining the Army

Find out about ATR Winchester

Halfway and holding in there – no obstacle too big

Sgt Griffiths

Sgt Griffiths

I am Sergeant Jonathan ‘Griff’ Griffiths, I have been in the REME for 14 years, during which I have been an Armourer and Metalsmith, completing two basic courses and two class one courses. I am currently training to become an Artificer.

The British military has an abundance of tough courses to attend.  The REME Artificers course is definitely one and the selection process is extremely hard. The key difference between this and most other courses is that the course is not physically challenging.  There is only one organised PT session a week (annoyingly). No-one chases or checks that you are attending it, or that you are completing your own physical training programme – and rightly so, with me being a senior non-commissioned officer. 

You must maintain your level of physical ability and demonstrate that you can pass the military fitness tests to scroll (complete the course).   In fact it could be said that the course provides the perfect environment to become physically lazy. 

Sgt Griffiths navigates one of the many obstacles

Sgt Griffiths navigates one of the many obstacles

The arduous side of the course presents itself in a mental format.  For 40 weeks of the 68 week long course, and for  36.5 hours per week (exclusive of meal times and breaks), the student is in the classroom sat behind a desk learning from a mixture of whiteboard calculations and PowerPoint presentations.  Mingled in with this intense tuition is a variety of exams and written assignments that must be completed to progress further on the course. The majority of these come with deadlines that can be pretty gruelling or tight revision schedules that are barely achievable, not to mention platoon duties that must be carried out.  

It is so easy to see how physical training can fall down the priority list, amongst all we have to juggle.  The trick, I have found, is keeping it on the list of priorities to complete, treating it as a deadline to complete PT sessions in your own time each week.  If you’re not naturally fit, it is an extra hurdle to overcome. 

Wannabe Artificers

My brief description of life in the Engineering and Science Department (ESD) just does not accurately describe daily life.  Planning a routine is so difficult and often futile as so many disruptions occur, and simply have to be addressed during the working week.  The whole package of the course is what makes it so mentally challenging and draining. 

The will to carry on is strengthened if you possess a clear, defined personal goal to achieve at the end of the course.   You don’t put yourself through it for no reason, and you will need one to remain motivated.  With changes to pensions on the way, money for future generations of ‘wannabe Artificers’ will cease to be a motivating factor; you will have to find another. 

(Left to right) Sgts Field, Griffiths, Walker, Cowell, Pryce, Jones and Tongue.

(Left to right) Sgts Field, Griffiths, Walker, Cowell, Pryce, Jones and Tongue.

Good to go

On the 12th of May, our 17-strong team from 10 Training Battalion REME, called  ‘GOOD TO GO’, took part in the tough mudder event held in Kettering, Northamptonshire.  Tough mudder is a physically demanding event that challenges all who participate.  Even though the concept has just arrived in the United Kingdom from the United States of America, it was designed by ex-British Special Forces members. The course consisted of 23 obstacles spread over a 12 mile cross country course. 

Dyno Rod, Mudder Samaritan Award

The obstacles varied in difficulty, but in general they were pretty extreme, ranging from high cargo nets to electric shock obstacles; my personal favourite was the ice dip.  If the severity of the obstacles wasn’t enough, the running route in between each of them was, at times, beyond painful.  Our team performed with excellence, finishing together and winning the ‘Dyno Rod, Mudder Samaritan Award’. Which, translated into military language, we think means best team work. 

An all round good time was had by all.  Tough mudder is a diverse event, in the fact that if you want to challenge yourself physically and mentally, you can, although it has to be said that I felt the true challenge presented by tough mudder is testing team cohesion. For this, I struggle to think of anything more effective.  Why does the British military not have one of these courses?