All cadets have the opportunity to take part in the Number 8 rifle training which teaches you the safety procedures that are required to take part in a range day and enter competitions. To obtain a Squadron Marksman Badge you must accurately group 20 shots on 4 different targets at a range of 25 metres. Once you are proficient with the Number 8 rifle you are then able to progress on to the L98A2 training course. In order to participate in rifle training you must be a first class cadet and to train on the L98A2 you need to be over 14.
Fieldcraft is a range of activities which take place outside of the squadron. These include the basics of fieldcraft, camouflage, concealment, communications, cooking in the field, constructing shelters and movement techniques. There are fieldcraft camps where you can live in the outdoors for a few days. These skills can be transferrable to Duke of Edinburgh expeditions.
Junior Leaders Course 2017
The Junior Leaders course is a demanding field craft course that aims to improve leadership and management skills of cadets providing them with a better understanding of different leadership styles while working in high pressure situations. The course took place from September 2016 through till April 2017 consisting of 1 selection weekend, 8 training weekends and 1 Test Phase including the graduation dinner.
The selection weekend is the first step on the course and aims to test the cadets who are selected for the course to see if they are suitable in a variety of areas including fitness, navigation, field craft and critical thinking. Upon completion of this, the selected cadets move onto Phase One. This phase is made up of the first 4 training weekends, one a month, where the fundamentals of field craft and leadership are taught in order for them to be able to lead and survive in the field environment. These weekends are mainly theory based and aim to give the cadets the knowledge they need. After this, they move on to Phase Two; this is the last 4 weekends of the course and is very practical based where the cadets spend each weekend in the field in order to practice and consolidate the training that was covered in Phase One.
The last part of the course is the Test Phase. This is a week-long stay in the field where cadets are assessed on 3 roles; Section commander, 2nd in Command, and Subordinate. As section commander, they have to be able to lead the team effectively whilst coordinating with other section commanders and the flight commander. As a 2IC, they are responsible for making sure that everyone in the section is okay and also managing the ammunition state. They have one of the hardest jobs as they maintain the squadron and look after all welfare issues. Finally, as a subordinate, they are responsible for making sure that their personal admin is okay and that they do their job in order for the 2IC and section commander to do theirs. Because of this, they must stay switched on, putting maximum effort in each day, all day long. Each day starts at 6am and involves 3 different patrols. These patrols are either; deliberate attacks, clearance patrols, or recce (reconnaissance) patrols, which are briefed to the new Section Commander whilst the last patrol goes out. A deliberate attack is a planned out attack to be carried out at a certain time in order to clear a certain area and ‘destroy’ an enemy position. A clearance patrol is where the section patrols through a certain area in order to bait the enemy into attacking them, at this point they perform section battle drills in order to ‘destroy’ the enemy. Finally, a clearance patrol is where a section goes out, usually at night, in order to gain information on an enemy position to use for a deliberate attack. The Section Commanders are then given time to write and prepare a full set of orders before their next patrol to be delivered to the section before they go out. This includes any administration and creation of a model, usually managed by the section 2IC in order to allow the Section Commander enough time to prepare for the patrol.
After the orders, the section goes out on patrol. These usually last a few hours but can be longer if they stay out for multiple and have their lunch or dinner in the field in a hasty harbour. Each section runs on a strict time schedule and must make sure that they stick to it. Because of this, there is little free time and any that they have is usually spent completing administration and cleaning weapons. In the evening, forced rest is at 11pm or whenever the section returns from its evening exercise, at this point the section puts people on ‘stag’ (guard), to defend a set position in case of attack, this is done on a staggered rota, hence the name stag, to ensure that there is always one fresh pair of eyes but two people on watch at all times throughout the night.
On the final night, 4 cadets were selected to run a flight level exercise. This was an amazing opportunity for me as it allowed me to further test my leadership on a flight level instead of section level. Myself and another cadet were the flight tactical Sgt’s and 2 other cadets acted as the flight commanders. A flight level attack is essentially what we had been doing all week but on a much larger scale and with a few more complex tactics. This made things harder and only added to the pressure, however we had a lot of help from the staff in order to make sure that we got the most from it. After this attack, we made our way out of the field with all of our kit and cleaned our rifles. After a week of use they were in need of a good deep cleaning to keep them working for the next people to use them.
The next day we had an individual debrief on how we did and if we had passed before we went on for dinner at the Officer’s Mess of RAF Honnington.
Overall, this course was an amazing experience and a once in a lifetime opportunity that not only gave me a great qualification and helped to develop key skills that will be useful later in life, but it also allowed me to meet people and make some great friends that I will stay in touch with in the future. To conclude, I would highly recommend this course to anyone that wants to further their leadership, teamwork, critical thinking and gain many more skills.
By Cadet Warrant Officer D. Shaw.