Junior soldiers stride towards new military careers

The Army Foundation College in Harrogate saw more than 650 teenagers march on their way to a new career today when they graduated from the Army’s flagship training establishment for 16-17 year olds.

The College in Harrogate, runs two types of course – a 42-week long course and a shorter 22-week course both of which train junior soldiers destined for a wide variety of Army careers.

The junior soldiers on the longer 42-week course will march off the square to the second phase of their training in the Infantry, Royal Artillery, Royal Armoured Corps and Royal Logistic Corps.

A company of junior soldiers on the shorter 22-week course designed for other cap badges will head for the longer more specialised phase of their training which could include being a vehicle mechanic with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers to becoming a communications system operator with the Royal Signals.

Some of the junior soldiers of Cambrai company, who have undertaken the 22-week course, will have had the opportunity to achieve a City and Guilds apprenticeship for Information Technology users at Level 2, incorporating Functional Skills.

But the junior soldiers from Alamein, Burma and Peninsula companies on the longer course have been able to gain Non-Vocational qualifications such as English, Maths and ICT as well as driver theory training. Many have also achieved a Duke of Edinburgh award.

Lieutenant General Nick Pope CBE, Deputy Chief of the General Staff, was the Inspecting Officer and presented prizes and took the salute as the military parade marched past the dais and told the junior soldiers that it was a day to savour not just for themselves but their families and friends as well. 

“You are about to embark on a challenging and rewarding career in the service of your nation. You should be really proud of reaching this point. You are the Army of the future at a time when the British Army faces the most challenging environment I have ever faced in my 36-year career. 

“Joining the Army is like joining an extended family and rest assured that the teams you will join are part of that family. This is about belonging. Aim high, be positive and have the confidence to challenge things. The Army life is about integrity, courage and selfless commitment.”

Lieutenant Colonel Richard Hall, Commanding Officer of the Army Foundation College, said the day was the pinnacle of the junior soldiers’ career so far and the presence of the Lt. Gen. Pope had been especially satisfying for them.

“The College is a vital component in providing the soldiers of the future and we are operating at full capacity and it is predicted to stay at full capacity for the foreseeable future.”