Week thirty-eight brings about more academics and more physical demands. We kept looking at integrated operations and counter insurgency; after a while at Sandhurst you gradually begin to realise that insurgency may not be our greatest threat, but it is most certainly our most consistent one! We also went onto the confidence course again and one thing stood out to me, that is coping mechanisms for fears. I will openly admit that when I started Sandhurst I had a slight discomfort when it came to heights, ‘slight’ meaning near panic attacks! However, through our training we have each developed a coping mechanism to dealing with our fears. This is important as it is these coping mechanisms that we will no doubt use in the future as an officer, whether it be jumping out of an aeroplane, running out the rear of a warrior infantry fighting vehicle or charging onto an enemy position; everybody has fear, it is just how you manage that fear. Needless to say, we all managed to do the confidence course a lot faster than we used to.
But, the main part of week 38… The march and shoot!
The march and shoot is a series of events which leads into the Sovereign’s Banner competition. It is one of those famous and eternal events that every generation of officer has been through, and it will stay for good reason: it assesses every element of battle.
It starts with a two-mile tab, mostly up-hill, but as it is a competition you will be hard-pressed to find a platoon tabbing, everybody runs. Everyone is carrying 16kg in webbing and daysack, plus rifle and helmet. After the initial two miles a further two-mile casualty extraction goes through bog and through some obstacles. Once that is complete the casualty is dropped and you begin the assault course. I have no idea how long the assault course is, but from my limited experience it is longer than the average one. You start at a twelve-foot wall, which as one of the larger members of the platoon means I am responsible for getting every one over. Then there are more walls, windows to climb through, barbed wire obstacles, river runs, a cargo net, a “wet tunnel”, some ropes to scale, elevated planks and other objects. By the end everyone is in “turbo cliput”, a lesson as an officer. We draw our shoulders back, stand upright and try not to puke. Take a deep breath and then move onto a further one-mile tab to the rifle ranges. We then go through a 400m, 300m, 200m and 100m shoot, all with sprints to each stage.
There is no way to put it, although in hindsight it was pretty good fun at the time, you are just in clip. Sodden wet, bruised, scarred and legs cramping up to the max. But it is great fun and has really got me waiting for the next time I get to do something similar at the infantry battle school on Phase 2. Yes, we are now all starting to look forward to our phase two, the end is dawning…
Oh, I will also give a brief shout-out, follow RMAS on Facebook, they can upload better photos and videos than myself!