WEEK 19: Allenby’s Advance

· DIA Exam
· War gaming
· Army Fitness Test
· Prep for Allenby’s Advance

Week nineteen is without a doubt the silence before the storm, which will be ALLENBY’s ADVANCE. The program is more orientated around pushing our minds than our bodies. Nevertheless we still had a minor thrashing with the physical training wing. On the Monday morning we had a defence and international affairs exam on whether the world is unipolar, to which I will hide my view and let everyone debate this on the blogs Facebook or LinkedIn posts.

We had our introduction to war gaming too, which was very interesting. Now, many people may get the comic impression of a group of old men stood around a table moving figurine Soldiers around a map, well, that is how it feels at times. It is a very useful tool in planning operations, with one side role-playing the enemy, it can bring the battle estimate more to life and add complexities which are otherwise hard to come across.

During our introduction lecture, we were given an overview of war gaming in the military context, how the Prussian Army, which is in my opinion, one of the finest military machines that has ever existed, invented war gaming. It was also used by the German military for the very successful invasion of France in 1940.

It could be suggested that more effort should be placed on actual battle exercises, but these can become too expensive logistical, and when some of the other armies such as the Chinese are investing heavily in war gaming, and when its context historically is so pertinent, you really understand the importance of that map and those unit ID cards. It did however cause some tension amongst my Platoon when I destroyed one of my friend’s armoured personal carriers.

Mid-week we also undertook the Army Fitness Test (AFT), this was without doubt one of the easiest PT sessions we have had in a long time, which is very encouraging. The aim of the PT staff is to train you to such a level so that when it comes to testing, it is actually relaxing and not challenging.

The confidence course, which is an aerial obstacle course also comes under the jurisdiction of the PT staff and we began lessons on that. Now, I have no problems with heights, but I am not the most coordinated person in the world, so I do find walking across a scaffolding pole at 30ft somewhat disconcerting, not due to the height, but more due to the fact that I am nearly guaranteed to fall off! I do really enjoy it though; it educates one in how they should react when faced with the door opening on a Warrior IFV or about to storm into a compound in a comparatively very safe manner. Nevertheless, my balance is still atrocious!

All of this week was however in prep for Ex ALLENBY’s ADVANCE. The first round of command appointments have been released and I will be deploying as the Company Sergeant Major (CSM). The roles of a platoon sergeant or CSM are not natural to an Officer Cadet like they are as a Platoon Commander. I have no doubt in my mind in the fact that my stress levels are about to sore through the roof!