This week has been a mind-blowing week. Our ‘academics’ have picked up even more and now we are balancing CABS, DIA and War Studies. This was also the first time we met our War Studies lecturers; my gosh, can they put the fear of God into you. The academics at Sandhurst are world-class, and this can be clearly comprehended by the sheer volume of information that flows strait out of their mouths.
We have also now started the orders and estimate process. For those who do not know what this is, it is what the officer brings to the table during a battle. In a platoon, the soldiers and non-commissioned officers have the experience and capability to fight, but the officer has the planning and co-ordination to control the battle space. Therefore, much of what we do here at Sandhurst will now be directed into Platoon Command. So, we have done some TEWTS (tactical exercise without troops), which is where we are given a problem – for example: a group of enemy trenches dug-in to stage three, armed with AK47 variants, a PKM and AGS 17 Grenade Launcher – and then we are expected to create and develop a plan using our TAMs (Tactical Aid Memoirs). It is very easy to slip into the mind set that this is nothing more than a pimped out version of Risk, but ultimately, in the battlefield, people’s lives depend on the success of the plans we construct, and therefore our attention during the lesson.
One thing I have not mentioned much throughout this is the amount of shooting we do. There are many reasons why officers need to be good shots. You could argue that it is leadership by example, or that you can coach your soldiers better if you yourself are a marksman. But, the view I agree with is that in the modern battle-space, it is so complicated and congested that a ‘no-frontier’ theology also means that we can find ourselves alone and facing the enemy. Therefore, it is pivotal for our survival.
This week we moved to CQM, or close quarter marksmanship. This is where you realise why there is a firm dis-interest in the forces to the air-soft and COD mentality, because firing three rounds to the head, chest and groin in a busy environment is not as easy as it may seem. However, it is vastly more satisfying than practising the firing positions on the ranges as the targets are more life-like, the scenario is a faster pace and we feel like we are really moving closer to becoming Army Officers.
On the Saturday night our platoon went out for a meal. It was really nice to get to sit with my pals and not talk about the army – as much as we love it, the conversation can become rather dry at times. So it is nice to just relax and enjoy a good quality meal… at least that is what the rest of the platoon experienced. I, on the other hand, was told that I would be the Platoon Commander for the forthcoming exercise and would be expected to deliver a set of orders for an advance to contact. We have not even done an advance to contact yet! But, this is Sandhurst, and at Sandhurst, you have to learn quickly!