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Junior Soldiers test skills in five-day training camp

Junior Soldiers have put their infantry skills to the test during arduous training.

Almost 200 recruits from Army Foundation College Harrogate (AFC H) took part in their first tactical exercise practising what they have learned since joining last September.

During the five-day exercise at Otterburn Training Area, which marked the halfway point in their training, they put into practise skills such as section attacks, reconnaissance patrols, field administration and leadership.

Supported by five members of permanent staff acting as enemy forces, and training facilitators to enable section commanders to remain ‘in-role’, a total of 116 section attack lanes were carried out during 54 hours of enemy facing training serials, with a further 20 hours of activity to support recce serials.

When they come out during the day and absolutely smash everything they’ve learned, they realise it is for them. Bombardier Natalia Hudson-Carrier, AFC Harrogate Trainer

AFC Harrogate Trainer Bombardier Natalia Hudson-Carrier said: “As Section Commanders, we want to see that they’re able to live in the field, keep up their hygiene, admin themselves, conduct a section attack and suppress the enemy.

“The hardest part is at night when they’re thinking ‘Is this for me?’ But when they come out during the day and absolutely smash everything they’ve learned, they realise it is for them.

“When you’re in the British Army, you can be deployed for months, so it’s about getting them in the mindset that it’s not going to be just a couple of days.”

Among the most vital skills developed during training is working as a team.

As a person, I’ve become more mature since joining the Army. Junior Soldier Corey Roughley

Junior Soldier Corey Roughley said: “Teamwork is very necessary on these exercises when you’re out for five days. You need people to pick each other up. I’m really enjoying it. There’s good days and bad days but that happens in all types of work.

“I’ve always wanted to join the Army. I found out I could join Harrogate when I turned 16, so I signed up and here I am.

“You’ve got mental resilience training, adventure training, IT, camping out in The Lakes, and the field craft element – camouflage and concealment and why things get seen.

“As a person, I’ve become more mature since joining the Army. I feel I can fend for myself. The biggest challenge I found was being away from home and family, but you get used to it. I’m looking forward to becoming a fully trained soldier in August.”

Having moved from Plymouth to join the intake at Harrogate, Junior Soldier Neave Bygrove discovered a new ‘family’ and home from home among her fellow recruits.

I spend so much time here with my friends, they’ve become like family. Junior Soldier Neave Bygrove

She said: “I’ve learned to stick with it, no matter how windy, rainy, or cold it gets. If you’re wet, just stick with it, you’ll dry off.

“The corps values get drilled into you to the point you’re doing it without realising.

“It’s like home cos home is so far away from me now and I spend so much time here with my friends, they’ve become like family.

“You come together as a team. If you don’t, you’re not getting any sleep. I enjoy the purpose of being a junior soldier, I’m not just any normal person anymore. I have the skills to assemble, shoot and clean an SA80 assault rifle. On civilian street, I’d have no clue how to do that.”

Alamein company will graduate from the college in August 2023 before moving to their initial trade training, learning the specialist skills for their trade prior to joining their units in the wider field Army.

More than 1,000 16 and 17-year-olds walk through the gates of the college every year to take the first step in their Army career.

Based at Uniacke Barracks in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, it has two intakes a year; March and September and runs two types of courses – a 49-week-long course and a shorter 23-week course to train junior soldiers destined for a wide variety of Army roles.