Training to lead

From infantry attacks to leadership theory, airborne gunners have been put through their paces to show they are ready to take the first steps up the British Army’s promotion ladder.

7th Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery (7 Para RHA) run a demanding leadership course designed to give junior soldiers the skills and experience to promote from Gunner to Lance Bombardier, and on from there.

The three-week course (14 Jan – 2 Feb) started with lessons about command, leadership and management, before moving to the rugged terrain of Sennybridge in South Wales. The troops were challenged to apply what they had learnt in the classroom to carrying out infantry operations and living in the field.

we’ve all pulled together to help each other through the course LBdr Stevens

 The course finished with a stretcher race around Colchester’s Friday Woods, followed by a pass-out parade attended by Colonel Andrew Jackson, Deputy Commander of 16 Air Assault Brigade.

Lance Bombardier Connor Stevens, 20 from Sittingbourne in Kent, was named best Junior Non-Commissioned Officer and Gunner Billy Holdsworth, 23 from Swadlincote in Derbyshire, was named best Potential Non-Commissioned Officer.

LBdr Stevens, who has served for four years and attended Westlands School, said: “It’s been a really tough course, particularly for the field phase in Wales. I’m really pleased and surprised to be named as best student, because we’ve all pulled together to help each other through the course. I’ve learnt a lot about leading soldiers and the orders process and I do feel that I’ve developed myself and am a different person.”

Gnr Holdsworth, who has served for two years and attended The Pingle Academy, said: “The course has been hard-going and it’s a huge relief to finish, but I’ve got a lot out of it. I didn’t expect to be picked out for award, and it’s a real honour. This course has developed my confidence and given me the ability to step forward to lead a section of soldiers.”

Captain Phil Wright, who ran the course, said: “I’m really proud of the soldiers’ performance across the course, particularly in Sennybridge where the arduous terrain and unpredictable weather made for a challenging time for everyone. These soldiers have taken in a lot of learning about leadership, but most importantly they’ve learnt a lot about themselves. The experience will make them better soldiers and great junior leaders able to lead others in high tempo and high stress environments, and they are now poised for promotion.”