An account of time spent at Sandhurst and the TA commissioning process.
My name is 2Lt Richard Clark and I have been with Wales Universities Officer Training Corps for a little over 2 years.
My first foray into the Military was when I was 16 years old. I attended the RCB (Regular Commissions board) now AOSB (Army Officer Selection Board) to hopefully be awarded an Army Scholarship through my 6th form years.
I was successful in this, and later was awarded a Bursary from the Army for my University studies. As part of the award I was committed to joining the OTC and gaining some military experience before I enter the regular commissioning course in September of 2012.
The path to becoming a commissioned officer within the OTC is the same process that all TA Officers must go through. The current system is a modular one with 4 modules needed to be completed before you gain your commission and pass off the parade square at Sandhurst.
The modules are 1,2,3,4a and 4b with further opportunities after you commission to do module 5 as post commissioning training. The first module looks at developing the basic infantry skills needed, which form the bedrock of all your skills and drills.
The second module looks to develop your orders process by using the 7 question combat estimate and the formal orders process. Module 3 is a challenging module testing you on both modules one and two, under mental and physical pressure by means of a 6 day 5 night field exercise.
Modules 4a and 4b are conducted at Sandhurst and conclude the modules needed to become a TA officer. Modules 4a and 4b are both conducted at Sandhurst over a three week period. 4a is essentially a revision phase to consolidate the previous 3 modules and to help revise them and bring all the Ocdts to a similar standard of military skills and drills.
It ends with a 3 day field exercise where the key to success if excellent Infantry skills, and good personal admin. A good sense of humour and a hard work ethic both in and out of command are essential for those wishing to do well on the exercise. My experience of this exercise was enjoyable but tiring at times as we had little or no sleep on both nights - a tactic which ensured the real personality of the person came to light, and one that caught a few people out.
After this exercise we returned to Sandhurst to a welcoming shower, and a good few hours of kit cleaning and admin. The end of the exercise signalled the simultaneous end of module 4a and the start of the assessment phase of the TA commissioning course, 4b, to see if we had the correct qualities to be awarded with a TA commission. Module 4b was a lot harder than the previous week where a few mistakes here and there were acceptable.
From the word go, there were kit inspections, room inspections and the timings we were given to do tasks were tightened considerably. This made sure that our personal admin remained at a good standard and that we could achieve our aims quicker without a reduction in quality. The main portion of module 4b was the 7 day field exercise. As with all exercises at Sandhurst this one was no different to what we had usually experienced.
We were a light role infantry platoon, and had to operate as such. This exercise focused on our abilities both in and out of command, assessing us on being just a private soldier in the section, through to section commander, right the way to Platoon Commander. At times I felt that being out of a command position was sometimes more work than being in one, as the staff were always looking for the team ethos and spirit that drives members on.
By day we did platoon attacks, multiple positions and increasingly harder situations to deal with, and by night we were on recce patrols or fighting patrols.
This daily routine allowed us in the region of about 7 hours sleep in the entire week, an effect on my body which I still cannot forget!
As one of the member of the platoon remarked:
'Once you start seeing blue penguins in the night, you know you're tired...'
It was this sense of humour that kept the sprit light, and ensured tempers never flared. Once coming out of the field exercise, many were relieved to have got through the whole exercise with no injuries.
The next few days were mainly focused around drill and the passing off parade, which would mark us as commissioned officers. The last few days were very enjoyable, and the pace eased slightly, however the onus was still there to perform at a high standard at all times.
My time spent at Sandhurst was an experience I shall never forget. When I leave University I am going into the regular Army in September 2012 and shall visit The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst again, however this time for the full 44 weeks required of regular officers. I hope to join the Royal Engineers, and go on to see active service overseas.
Whatever your course or career in the military or otherwise, OTC is an excellent experience, and will help create the future leaders of this world. The OTC also offers excellent social and adventurous training opportunities, which can help your confidence and leadership develop and ensure you do well in your chosen vocation.