Saturday 20 March will remain fondly etched in the memories of three female Officer Cadets who became the first from their respective countries to march up those famous steps and into the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst’s Old College to become commissioned officers.
This was the passing out parade for Commissioning Course Short No. 211 which saw 19 cadets graduate to become commissioned army officers. Among them were Officer Cadets: Chuki Wangmo from Bhutan, Midya Masti from the Peshmerga Force of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and Firushana Thaufeeq from the Maldives; the first women from those countries to attend the Royal Military Academy and become commissioned officers.
The parade was inspected by Major General Celia Harvey, herself another female first, being the first Army Reservist female to rise up to the rank of Major General.
The Commissioning Course Short (CCS) is a specially designed compacted training schedule that is conceived around the requirements of Army Reservists and professionally qualified officers such as dentists, lawyers, veterinary doctors and members of the clergy. It can be completed in multiple stages across several months, but for CCS No.211 they all achieved their ambitions in one eight-week long stretch.
Bursting with pride the three ladies marched onto the famous parade square with that iconic back drop that is the façade of Sandhurst’s Old College as Major General Celia Harvey was there as the senior officer to inspect them.
The parade, conducted with strict adherence to the Covid-19 social distancing stipulations, was led by the Old College Adjutant, Captain Daniel Gregory astride Boris, his charger and music provided by the Band and Bugles of The Rifles. Addressing the parade Major General Celia Harvey said, “You have been judged ready to be officers. You can expect to be involved in operations around the world. Holding a commission will not be easy at times, but it will always be rewarding.”
For Officer Cadet Firushana Thaufeeq (28), her commissioning parade provided an extra special surprise as it was announced she had won the coveted ‘International Prize’. This is an award to the international officer cadet who in the view of the staff at the Academy was the best performing cadet of their intake. Firushana received her prize of a leather-bound history of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst from Major General Celia Harvey.
Speaking of her experience at Sandhurst she said, “I never realised quite how cold it would be here; when I left the Maldives it was 28° and when I arrived here it was only 2°. The training was challenging because of the weather and the hills – in the Maldives we have no hills so that was difficult. My Mum and Dad are so proud of me and they tell me the whole of my country is proud of me too. I’ll remember Sandhurst for the friendship and how we all helped each other in our teams.”
Officer Cadet Midya Masti (30) serves as a doctor in a military hospital back in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, she too found the cold one of the more challenging aspects to the course. “The first two weeks were quite difficult especially sleeping out in the cold. I would never have thought I could finish a course such as this, perhaps had they told me I would not have come, but then I wouldn’t be the person I am today; I am very proud to be honest. I’ve met amazing people here and I’m honoured to have graduated from here.”
For Officer Cadet Wangmo (39) she loved the setting of the Academy and enjoyed long walks in the grounds. “I was so lucky to be nominated by my government to represent my country and come to Sandhurst. I will be going into the Army full-time when I return to Bhutan. It still feels like a dream for me to be here; only yesterday did it sink in with all the band and everything – oh my, I’m really commissioning from Sandhurst, my journey has been good here. I think it’s changed me; I look at things in a different way and I’ve learnt a lot of things.