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Army Adventurous Training Groups new wing in Halton

Royal Military Academy Sandhurst Officer Cadets have been the first students to use the brand-new facilities at the Army Adventurous Training Group’s new wing in Halton, Lancaster.

This marks the start of a new era for the Joint Service Mountain Training Wing of the Army AT Group that had been based at Deverell Barracks in Ripon, North Yorkshire for over 30 years, until late 2021 when the move began.

Picking up the keys to their new home last month, the staff at JSMTW(H) have been busy setting the facilities up and unpacking the 5000 items of clothing and equipment that were moved.

With 48 new student bed spaces, the 2000 students who undertake AT with the wing each will take full advantage of the 1578 square metres of new, sustainable, adventurous training space that the wing has to offer. It is certainly worth noting that these are the first ever purpose-built Adventurous Training facilities, as all other wings around the country have repurposed existing buildings.

Commander of the Army AT Group, Colonel Neil Wilson said: “This long-awaited move of the AT Group’s Northern English wing will bring numerous advantages and create many opportunities.  The brand-new purpose-built wing will give us a superb base from which to exploit all that the Yorkshire Dales and Lake District have to offer the outdoor enthusiast, especially cavers.  It will cut our travelling times to training areas by half and enable us to benefit from being collocated with the recruit training Soldier Development Wing.”  

JSMTW(H) now boasts new offices, stores and a combined Headquarters which features a briefing room and classrooms. Furthermore, an existing building has been refurbished to create an activity centre to accommodate the specialist indoor training equipment, including a high ropes facility, 6m climbing wall and a caving simulator.

Commanding Officer of the Joint Service Mountain Training Centre, Lieutenant Colonel Jennifer Painting, said: “The completion of the JSMTC Halton AT Wing marks a really important milestone. Many people have worked many hours to find a new home for this important facility and it is testament to everyone’s personal investment."

“The new facility will enable our top-class AT instructors to deliver even better training. The new build shows that the Army is committed to ensuring that AT endures and prospers, and it shows a wide recognition of the value that AT has. Through this training we make a real investment into the personal and professional development of the Armed Forces Personnel”.  

Leadership and resilience fundamentally underpin the delivery of Army AT, which aims at making our people better soldiers and making our soldiers better people. This is driven by the Army AT Group’s Adventurous Leadership and Resilience Training (ALeRT) program which is embedded into all Army AT courses. Delivering physically & mentally challenging training helps Soldiers & Officers deal with uncertainty thereby contributing to operational capability and these new facilities will enable the Army AT Wing to push students physically, mentally and emotionally further than ever before.

providing training in coping strategies and resilience, building confidence and mental strength" Lt Col Painting

Regarding the important part Army AT plays in the development of our personnel and in preparing them for serving on operations, Lt Col Painting added: “Adventurous Training develops moral courage and increases understanding of our values and standards, as well as providing training in coping strategies and resilience, building confidence and mental strength and facilitating leadership development.” 

The 24 Royal Military Academy Sandhurst Officer Cadets at Halton this week were gaining AT qualifications within groups of six. Each group were learning vital military skills whilst undertaking one of either Mountaineering, Climbing, Caving or Kayaking. 

Officer Cadet Pestille, who was gaining her Rock Climbing Single Pitch Foundation observed, “It's kind of controlled stress under pressure, isn't it? The more time you can spend stretching your limits and pushing up every day the more comfortable you’ll become with being uncomfortable. I got a nice rush of adrenaline at the top!”

I got a nice rush of adrenaline at the top!” Officer Cadet Pestille

Captain Gareth Maslin, Officer Commanding of JSMTW(H) reinforced the importance of AT for our military personnel by saying; “AT is proven to instil within, and build upon, the skills required by our personnel to serve on operations. This includes taking them out of their comfort zone, putting them in purposely challenging situations and locations which pose an element of risk to build on their ability to overcome adversity and make important decisions in testing conditions.

The investment by the Army in working with the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) to deliver this £9M project shows its commitment to Adventurous Training and faith in the high calibre of leadership and resilience training AT provides our personnel.

The opening of the Army’s first purpose-built Adventure Training facility at Halton Training Camp is a significant milestone that marks the delivery of the Army’s first infrastructure project under the Defence Estate Optimisation (DEO) portfolio.

Belinda Lunn, DEO Army Programme Director said: “The success of the project is testament to the close collaboration between the Army (DEO) and DIO with their delivery partners, Galliford Try and Tetra Tech. The team managed to deliver this project on time and on budget, despite the challenges associated with the pandemic. All involved are delighted to see the new Joint Service Mountain Training Wing is already being used and enjoyed to the benefit of its first students – the officer cadets from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.  

With the new wing now open and operational, the team are busy delivering world class Adventurous Training to all ranks with a busy Summer ahead.