Phase 1 Training.

#1
Points of phase one training that need to be improved due to a change in standards of recruits.

1. The course should be extended to allow more PT. The fitness of a new recruit is lower than that of the past. The Field Army standards remain the same so there has to be longer to train recruits to this standard. At present this isn't happening, and the Field Army has to waste time giving recruits extra training to pass a BPFA.

2. Recruits of today are less capable at manual skills and require more weapon training to allow them to pass mandatory tests on their personal weapons, as WHT's are a nightmare and the skills are suffering as a result. APWT's are disasters and there is far too much wastage putting recruits through them who are not prepared for them.

3. More time in the field has to be spent as recruits must "stretch their comfort zone" if they are to be comfortable out of doors.

4. Language skills must be improved for Foreign and Commonwealth recruits, as far too many are passing the RSC tests with an inadequate grasp of English. There should be a course for them after RSC, before phase one as we need the recruits.

5. Illiteracy in recruits should be a RSC problem, not a phase one problem and tests at RSC should be more detailed to recognise these recruits.

6. Majors and above should work closer with recruits and realise how exasperating they can be, especially JE recruits. Mature Section Commanders and other platoon staff should have more Mission Command when it comes to discipling and reccomendations for back squadding and UFAS.

These points are the tip of the iceberg, and require attention if the Army is to retain its current level of superb efficency. The government should place more money in the Army bubget to allow for this, or pay soldiers in the Field Army more, to increase retention.
 
#3
One of the other areas that needs to be addressed is the whole "train in, not weed out" business within the ITG. Whilst it may be good for their statistics, a more discriminating eye needs to be passed over Phase 1 and Phase 2 recruits to weed out time wasters.

We are seeing too many young soldiers who when seeking to bail out whilst under training are being told "Don't worry, it will get better once you get to the unit" only to find out that it does not necessarily improve in the ways that they expect and, all too late, they find out they can do nothing about it. This then places the onus on units and/or the medical system (back to temperamentally unsuited to Army service!) to weed them out.

Passes taken 'at risk' should be reduced and, where there is a doubt with either the training organisation or the individual NOTENG or S Type engagements should be used, rather than having the whole lot coming through on OPEN engagements and having no exit strategy.
 

Captain_Crusty

War Hero
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#4
I believe the biggest problem lies with the RSCs. Too many rcts are coming through the system who should have been weeded out before they got anywhere near an ATR. There are numerous reasons for this but the biggest are medical (how on earth do we get 3 or 4 204s at each initial medical) and F&C with no understanding of the english language.
 
#5
I have to say I disagree with you there CC. Having worked at an ATR, the problems are manifold - fitness, bad attitudes, a willingness to 'work the system', being 3 of the biggest problems instructors at ATR's face. But the biggest problem within the 'system' of the ATR's is the sausage factory aspect of it.

Put simply, once the Army have their recruit through the front gate, they are willing to gloss over and / or ignore almost any failing a recruit might have. Worse, when the 'system' actually realises the recruit is too poor to be of use, they very quickly point the finger at the training team responsible for that recruit. Heaven help the section commander who has not highlighted in his weekly report on each recruit any failings or weaknesses, or having written that, his troop commander will be in for interviews without coffee if he has not raised the issue up the chain.

During my time at an ATR I, and others, saw some terrible recruits go on to phase 2, even though we all knew these soldiers were just not the right material. Very often these recruits want to get out, but are persuaded to wait, to settle down etc. Once they realise they were right, they become everyones problem.

If the army want to retain standards, they should allow training teams more say (but not the complete say) in backsquadding and discharging recruits. That alone would help both them and the army by cutting down on wasted time for the training team and reducing the amount of dead weight getting into working units.
 
#6
'Train In, Not Weed Out' has a lot to answer for; we are simply getting too many recruits into units who are, at best, marginal 'at risk' passes and who then subsequently find that they cannot cut it and who want to throw in the towel or who become admin or disciplinary nightmares.

Whilst this might kep the ITG's stats up, it places an unnecessary burden on the Field Army, where we spend more time in administering the little darlings and less time training or indulging in the fun things in life.

I am afraid I vote for quality not quantity. t least then we have a better idea of what we are getting and can plan accordingly.
 

maninblack

LE
Book Reviewer
#7
There is a move afoot to allow 4 star army cadets to miss a section of training in order to improve receruitment statistics.

I can see a point of view that a 4 star cadet can clean and polish his kit and generally has a reasonable isea of how some bits of military life work(drill is another issue as I have yet to see a cadet who can do any drill properly)

However, in the "good old days" basic training was a team effort from start to finish and the first two weeks created the team, those who enterered later through back squadding or corps transfers were never quite in the team.

What do the rest of you think?
 

scaryspice

LE
Moderator
#8
Maninblack

I can only compare the TA experience, where some units do exempt 4* cadets from parts of recruit training - I believe TA Regs says they are exempt (sure someone will jump in if I'm wrong).

In the "bad old days" my unit used to exempt them. This had several effects:

1. They thought they were "special" - some of them never got over it and became a right pain in the arse.

2. Some of them were not as good as they thought they were and carried on doing things in the "old way" which they mistakenly believed to be the "correct way"

3. Exactly as you say, it destroyed the teamwork aspect of Phase 1 training, which I'm sure is even more vital for the full time soldier than for the part time.

We stopped this automatic exemption some time ago. As someone wo was involved for some years in TA Phase 1 recruit training, I used to tell ex-cadets that I valued their input as they had more military experience than the brand new boys and that I expected them to use this to everyone's benefit. Those that did not heed this did not last long. Those that took notice usually became excellent TA soldiers - quite a few went on to get "best recruit" on their two week course.

Ultimately I guess the same would be true for the Regulars.

Couldn't agree more that "train in, not weed out" is complete bollocks for us too. Our problem is that TA soldiers can and do walk out the door if they want to. So it makes a nonsense of recruiting stats when you are only retaining a tiny percentage of those you recruit because half of them should really have been binned before the end of the selection weekend and never been enlisted in the first place.

Rant over.
 
#9
Why not be like the police and impose a two year probation on all new recruits, that gives you time to "train in" (if neccessary extending the probation period to do so) and allows you to weed out at a weeks notice if the guy or girl still cannot hack it.

Trotsky
 

Captain_Crusty

War Hero
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#10
Noone should be given exemption on a generalised basis. There is, after all, a fast track option available for rcts who have covered parts of the CMS(R) before.

In a recent troop I had a cadet RSM who was arrse and had to be UFASed...
 
#12
cap crusty: what is this fasttrack option? Ive never heard of it. I was under the impression when your in training your init for the whole phase, unless you fail. ???
 
#13
The biggest problem we have at any ATR is the Instructors hands are tied as to what can be done discipline wise CMSR iS A WEAK TRAINING STRUCTURE THAT NEEDS TO BE ADJUSTED to be told as an Instructor you need to be away from the recruits by 2000hrs every night is a joke if all the instructors stuck to that nothing would get done Instructors are told to spend more time with Commonwealth soldiers to overcome the language Barrier I spent two years at an ATR and had some very good Commonwealth recruits but i also found a Commonwealth recruit who does not want to do anything will play on the language barrier to assist himself
We have had the Cream of the recruits from The Commonwealth countries we need to stop bringing in the bad ones Of course this is just my opinion
 
#14
I had a recruit who arrived at Phase One Training with an RSC report stating "should pass Phase One training with some TLC". Didn't realise that was in my job description!!!!!!!!
 
#15
Agree with you wee_face phase 1 needs a shake up. Maybe in other armies quantity has a quality all of its own, ie China, Russia in WW2 but not in todays British Army. To quote the yanks "We need a few good men" not a bunch of half trained halfwits with a smattering of good lads being dragged down by the dross.

Few ideas that have come up over a beer or 5 in the past.

Split Basic down in to parts. Obviously selection is part of this so that is the first phase, if they can't speak english then they should be put on a course prior to basic and taught. This course would be of the Fixed Mastery Variable Time variety. As for numeracy and literacy, they only need a basic level of this for basic, and Sect Cpls can help really bad ones. Then load them on to suitable course ASAP after Basic/Phase 2.

The next part should be a softly softly approach to getting them ready for what lies ahead. Lots of PT, bit of health and hygine, lectures on everything from the Clap to credit cards (yes i know this is just make work) but keep the little buggers busy and the devil keeps his nose out.

During this phase (call it 3-5 weeks) start increasing fitness, with PT upto 3 times aday and sport. Also a bit of Adventure Training, get em out on the hills camping and some command tasks to improve team work etc. I appreciate this sounds like Duke of Edinburghs award but this phase can bring them up to fitness levels and other levels ready for the next phase. Progression to the next phase is based purely on their fitness, ie testing and weather it is believed they shoud be allowed to.

Next stage, Hard Tac in your face military training. They carry CEFO, rifles and helmets all the time, and start things like aggressive assault course runs and bergan tabbing proper. As the phase progresses they spend more and more time out in the field until they go out on Monday and return on Friday. Again when they reach the standard move them on.

After that put them on a good hard test exercise, run by different people, maybe even the SASC! :twisted: (anyone seen tigerland?). Which tests all the skills they have learnt including things like teamwork and how to keep going when you want to quit.

After this, they get to remove cnut caps, and place upon their heads their regimental headress of their respective unit. Then a quick polish up of drill put them in 2s or even 1s (and not degrade them by letting them pass out in 95s!!!) and put them on the square with a proper band for mummy and daddy to see.

If soldiers are trying but failling then they can just be recycled in the particular phase they are at until they are good enough to move on. And also bring back the bad old no going to the shop or bar. Why are recruits allowed to go to the bar in basic? Have heard sprogs say "It was only after the week 7 or 8 big inspection by the OC" you what? There should be "Big" inspections every blo*dy day!!!

These thoughts would make basic longer, possibley as long as 20 weeks! But at the end of it would be quality matierial that could be moulded by the phase 2 establishments. There is little point in either doing half a job or doing it so poorly that the resulting product is naff. (This isn't a slagging of the blokes that do that job, I appreciate how hamstrung you can be at times!)

Training in is a good idea, but must be balanced with a ruthlessly effiecient weeding out of those that will never make the grade at all stages.

And i definitely like the idea of probation. Maybe not a fixed time though. How about all through training, and until 2 years or maybe at class 2 level? After all the definition of Class 2 is a soldier who can work unsupervised. In my corps a recruit could be posted to a unit after probation with our 1 year long+ training courses!!!
 
#16
I must say that chocolate frog has come up with one of the best ideas I have ever heard. I had the displeasure of working at ATR Bassingbourne a couple of years ago on a short attachment as a nurse in the med centre. Here I met some top blokes in the instructor cadre (some of which I served with in the R. Sigs years ago). Speaking to and living with them identified just what a poor apporach was being taken to recruit training. Recruits allowed to drink beer/go to the shop, there was little in the way of organised evening activity for the recruits and the NCO's were worked into the ground. If that were not enough we had no bar or meeting place for ourselves while the recruits enjoyed a revamped naafi. There was a very nice jailhouse on camp which went unused as the NCO's/WO's could not resign troublemakers to heartbreak hotel for a couple of hours to contemplate the error of their ways. Recruits today are, I feel, let down by a system that does not prepare them for the rigours of service life. To work on fitness and character prior to undertaking military training is a superb idea. Give these youngsters hard work and allow them to see how rewarding achievement can be. This ethos they can then apply to their military training and army career as a whole. Too much is handed to youngsters on a plate in these days and society does not challenge them and that is not their fault. We need to redress this while not vicitmising them. To be allowed these opportunities would be rewarding in the extreme for the instructors and good for the army. Might cost a few quid ,though.
 
#17
Ref my last.

Before it starts, I am aware that it would cost a few quid to train the phase 1s like this. However, you pay peanuts you get monkeys. If the recruit selection is hard enough and checking the correct things then most of the no hopers should get turned away with a minimum of cost.

Look at the Gurkhas, they have practically no wastage in training and 15 years service out of all their recruits. I know this would never be the case in the British side of it, but with thorough scrutiny at all levels, hopefully, we could create a system that emulated it.

Also a bit of thought about continuation training. All phase 2 establishments should be looking at taking the standards realised at phase 1 and polishing them up and building upon them depending on the requirements of that CEG. In my opinion many phase 2 establishments, merely bolt on the trade aspects and off go the trainees in to the cold wall of a working unit, complete with Op tours. CMS(R) should continue in to phase 2 training and into the unit. Up until the class 2 maybe.

I think the yanks have work books and exams to sit to progress through their stages. Perhaps a few workbooks in the Phase 2 establishment and the unit could really iron all the creases out. Covering subjects such as duties of sentry, at home and in the field, convoy drills, basic vehicle maintainence and similar in conjucntion with ITD (A)s.

These subjects would probably be picked by the corps' or arms depending on role, and could include practical aspects. Like a specific Cpl/Sgt signing that said sprog had actually been on stag on the gate or seen to carry out correct first works!!! Some units do things like this, my old one did, other don't.

Also (quickly donning tin hat, body armour and b*llock protectors) I strongly disagree with training the men and women together. Split them up. All women could attend a fully feminine training company with all female staff. In this way they can be nurtured and trained with out any hormonal urges (male or female) and on a level playing field. Instead of always being at the rear of the squad they could be pushed to get to the front in a realistic contest and feel the benefits of such achievements.

I am one who never tells a lad that he should be embarressed to be behind a girl in a run. Why should she be made to feel like it is not her place to be there when she is doing what he should be doing. Working hard. That is the flip side of what is being implied.

I believe the USMC do it this way and also I beleive our own mighty RMAS train women in single sex platoons under female staff. Why not for the non-commisioned personnel too.
 
#18
Good point about female training. I would have given anything to have ditched the girls when I was a young apprentice at harrogate. How demoralising for the girls to be the party that brings down the average. How much more challenging it could make some of the physical aspects trianing for the blokes (not to mention cutting down the loafing). Also, removing male training NCO's may cut down some of the imorallity that creeps in with female recruits. I think it needs to be specific for corps/roles though (I am in the QARANC now and we are really short of guys). I suppose my Corps is a special case.

And yes I do support the wires - 20 years, man and boy. An outstanding devotion to mediocrity if you ask me.
 

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