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RMAS & Platoon Commanders Battle Course

After passing Main Board you are ready to attend the finest military academy in the world, the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. More about your time at RMAS can be found using the links on the right.

At RMAS you will be put through your paces during the demanding 44 week course. It's hard work but The Royal Anglian Regiment expects any potential officers to be in the top third of the intake - tough but achievable.

The Regiment currently has a Platoon Commander and CSgt instructors, all of whom have a vast array of experience and knowledge to pass on to the cadets. The Regiment commissions 8-9 OCdts a year, split between the three commissioning course intakes.

A view of Sandhurst by 2Lt Rob Purse

I started Sandhurst as a complete 'military virgin' following a degree in Sport and Exercise Science and a year travelling and working in Australia. I looked to a career as an Army Officer, and particularly that of an Infantry Platoon Commander, as an opportunity to work in a challenging environment with like minded people whilst being able to pursue sport and adventure training.

There is no doubt that the comissioning course at Sandhurst has its ups and downs, but it is undoubtedly a varied and enjoyable year. I always intended on joining the infantry and got the most enjoyment out of the military exercises which vary from basic infantry field skills and trench digging to riot control and counter IED training, culminating in live fire platoon attacks.

Sandhurst has offered opportunities to pursue new sports, skills and interests and gain adventure training qualifications, having organised and led an expedition which climbed Mont Blanc. Boxing and dinner nights are a highlight of the year and enough can't be said for the laugh and bond you have within your Platoon as you progress together through the course.

The comissioning course is a tough but enjoyable 44 weeks which brings together military skills, physical training, academia, the values and standards of the British Army and the role and importance of officership within it. It leaves you in a position ready to further your skills and training at the Platoon Commanders Battle Course and, ultimately, to command your first Platoon

Platoon Commanders Battle Course

Once commissioned, you will go to the Infantry Battle School in Brecon to attend the Infantry Platoon Commanders Battle Course. This is where the real work of being an Infantry Platoon Commander is taught. Your fitness, navigation, shooting and leadership are all tested throughout the 4 month course, culminating in an overseas exercise in Kenya.

Arrival at the Infantry Battle School

Following commissioning from RMA Sandhurst into The Royal Anglian Regiment, 2LT Monk, 2LT Peters and I arrived at the Infantry Battle School (IBS) Brecon to attend the Platoon Commanders’ Battle Course (PCBC). The course is split into two phases; the first covers tactical training and lasts for 11 weeks, the second phase is Live Firing Tactical Training (LFTT) and lasts for 5 weeks.

Tactics

As with the rest of the courses at IBS, the majority of tactics is spent on exercise both in and out of command appointments. It initially confirms and adjusts what was learnt during our time at Sandhurst. This is foundation training, and the focus is on the combat estimate and orders process. Much of the teaching is conducted through assessed TEWTs and formal lectures.

I found that these set me up well for conducting the process whilst under field conditions. Other elements of foundation training included Weapon Handling Tests (WHTs) on the platoon weapon systems, numerous lectures and practicals varying from joint fires to the CASEVAC procedure. Some of the physical tests were also conducted during this early stage including the 2-miler, 5-miler and CFT.

Developmental training was conducted on weeks 4-7 of the course. This was the exercise phase in Brecon and it focussed on tactical actions. During each exercise command, appointments were given for every position in the platoon. PCBC ensures that we leave with a thorough understanding of the responsibilities and pressures experienced at every rank

The first exercise

The first exercise focused on offensive actions, with numerous attacks and raids conducted over a more realistic timeline than that experienced before at Sandhurst. The exercise was also very instructional as the debriefs allowed discussion and a thorough walk through if necessary.

The next weeks were focussed on enabling actions, defensive actions and stability actions. During this time we spent a period learning more in-depth Fighting in Built Up Areas (FIBUA) techniques, as well as the finer details of infanteering that the commissioning course at Sandhurst does not have time to teach.

We finished this stage of training with the Fan Dance. This, as many will know, is a pretty gruelling event that tests not only the platoons’ endurance but also teamwork. I found this to be the hardest physical test at Brecon, but luckily we did not lose so were spared the curse of being the baggage party!

Exercise Grim Warrior in Cyprus

The culmination of training was Exercise Grim Warrior in Cyprus. For this exercise we had A (Lincolnshire) Company, 2 Royal Anglian join us as the enemy troops. For this they filled a number of roles, ranging from exercising troops to CIVPOP and enemy.

The exercise itself was well resourced, utilising support such as military working dogs and RAF helicopters throughout. After a brief RSOI package, the exercise started with conventional operations being the initial focus. The scenarios that we encountered were complex and the ground in the Lima training areas was a shock for some.

The missions moved from platoon level operations up to company group with the final attack being launched onto Paramali Village. The focus then shifted to contemporary operations and this is where the knowledge and understanding of the A Company NCOs and soldiers excelled.

In this stage we were operating out of FOBs and PBs and were trying to control the mess CIVPOP/Enemy were creating in the village. This stage was testing and saw everyone become worn down with the never-ending patrols/guard/QRF cycle. However, the professionalism of all the Poachers was commented on by others on the course.

Battle Camp came to an end with a company dawn attack onto an ammunition compound with a number of enemy positions. It was fairly complex and tested the command and control, CASEVAC procedure and prisoner of war chain to a high level. Exercise Grim Warrior was a good exercise that tested us in many areas.

Having A Company as our enemy troops was brilliant and their professionalism and competency was noted throughout. The CO of IBS said that the Poachers were the best exercising troops that they have had on a PCBC exercise.

Live Firing Tactical Training (LFTT)

After finishing tactics we expected a relaxed 5 week course with plenty of visits to the local pubs - unfortunately we were wrong; LFTT is very busy! The course is well structured and gives a lot of time to practice the running of a LFTT range.

After the initial lectures that taught us the theory behind planning and running ranges and Weapon Handling Tests on the GPMG (SF), we spent time in the classroom making templates and constructing traces to allow us to do the practical work in the following weeks. The traces were frustrating, often taking hours, as the slightest mistake meant that they had to be done again.

Once done though, it was into the field to gain the qualification. I enjoyed this part of the course as it was the most live firing that we had conducted and we had a lot of ammunition available to us.

The 16 weeks spent at Brecon was hard work but we learnt a great deal. The learning curve was steep but the directing staff were very good.