Soldier to Officer: Week Two
Hayley Larcombe served in the British Army as a qualified nurse for nine years. After a successful career, including deployments to Afghanistan and Kenya, she decided to apply for a commission into the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps as an officer.
She was successful at the Army Officer Selection Board and has recently started the Professional Qualified Officers course at the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst. For 11 weeks she will be in Dettingen Company, 47 Platoon.
This blog will follow her progress: week in week out.
We are now in the second week of the course and we are all shattered! Waking up at 0530 every morning is definitely taking its toll on us! We are still being inspected every morning at the moment. If an Officer Cadet is picked up for having a dirty room, dirty kit or failing to have the right kit and equipment then they are given press ups. Needless to say, some Officer Cadets are making serious gains in the upper body department. In week 3 this will change. Press ups will be replaced with show parades. Show parade takes place every evening at 2100. The Officer Cadet is to parade at Old College, in immaculate dress, ‘showing’ the piece of kit or equipment that they were picked up on.
Physical Training (PT) this week has been great. We had a functional circuit in the gymnasium at the beginning of the week, which was really enjoyable. The Royal Army Physical Training Corps (RAPTC) are really encouraging functional training at the moment, a classification of exercise that involves training the body for the activities performed in daily life.
Functional training helps provide you with strength, stability, power, mobility, endurance and flexibility. As a keen CrossFitter, I thoroughly enjoyed this session! I believe we have a few more of these sessions whilst at The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS), which I am looking forward to.
We also had our first outdoor navigation session this week with our Platoon Commander. This involved walking out to the training area, orientating our maps to the ground, taking bearings and identifying key features on the map. We have been working hard in the classroom on our map reading skills, but actually going out on the training area really brought all the training together.
We also had an orienteering exercise this week, where we were put in pairs. Orienteering is a sport that requires navigational skills using a map and compass to navigate from point to point in diverse and usually unfamiliar terrain, normally moving at speed. Participants are given a topographical map, which they use to find control points. This exercise enabled us to consolidate everything we have learnt from the navigation lessons, whilst encouraging team spirit.
We have now started our Counter Improvised Explosive Device (C-IED) training sessions. Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) were used heavily in Afghanistan by insurgent groups, and caused more than 66% of coalition casualties. Therefore, it is of the upmost importance that we get these skills and drills right! Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) training has also begun this week. Chemical attacks are becoming more prevalent. With recent reports that chlorine and mustard gases have been used in Syria, CBRN training has never been more relevant.
We also completed our Weapons Handling Test this week, in preparation for our first exercise which starts on Sunday. Stay tuned for next week’s progress!