Ok, this is from the latest Bayonet so probably aimed at the Regulars but hope it helps (it may be worth starting a thread in the Inf forum):
The Platoon Commanders Battle Course (PCBC)
PCBC has undergone a number of significant changes in the last year. This is a consequence of innovations in training coupled with a growing acceptance of the increased skill sets required of an infantry platoon commander to meet the challenges of the current operational environment and the future character of conflict. This article updates on the most recent changes and those planned for the near future and to highlight some of the issues and challenges of Young Officer (YO) Phase II training.
It should be noted from the outset that based on experience of delivering PCBC, the quality of Officer Cadet commissioned from RMAS is as high as it ever has been. There are subtle differences in the subject matter and teaching methods, for example the 7 Questions, but fundamentally the product remains fit for purpose. What has changed significantly is the focus of the students; this is not surprising given the current reality that 20 30% of them deploy directly to Afghanistan via a brief OPTAG IRT course on completion of PCBC. This has also had a profound impact on the staff (we too are more focused and driven to ensure that they are prepared) and a positive effect on what can be achieved in a relatively short space of time with student buy in.
Our aim is simply to make them as capable as we can in the time available. This requires a team effort between the students and staff (mentors). The students are relied upon to take ownership of their training and help shape the course for those that follow. The two values that we assess above all others are team spirit and selfless commitment. Due to the varied background of the students (10 15% being from overseas) it is imperative for the progression of training that they bond quickly. It has been extremely encouraging to see up to half the course turn out on a Friday evening to run alongside those conducting remedial physical training (e.g. 2 miler) and to see British YOs devote time and effort to the development of the international students to ensure that they are fully integrated into the course (often the overseas students are seen running with British students in their own time or heading off with them on a weekend).
It is important that our future platoon commanders are Infantrymen First; able to run fast, shoot straight and fix quickly (first aid). This gives them not only confidence in their own skills and drills but also enables them to lead by example. As such every appointment; rifleman, section 2IC, signaller is an appointment and we expect all the students to set the example to the RAAT.
What we Teach
A consistent message from external 1* visitors DInf and Bde Comds to the Infantry Battle School (IBS) has been to resist the pressure to include more in the programme at the risk of undermining the basics. The challenge for PCD has been determining what the basics are and which have changed and should be incorporated into training. Our conclusion is that they have grown in both number and complexity. For example, it is now inconceivable to imagine combat without the presence of the international media and, therefore, media handling skills must be considered a basic leadership skill. Therefore, PCD would argue it only teaches the basics.
Conceptual Training Having seen the estimate done properly and as thoroughly as on PCD can only serve to restore ones faith in the 7 Questions. 2Lt Alex Pickthall, Life Guards, PCBC 1001.
The conceptual development of our YOs is PCDs main focus and engraining an understanding of the Combat Estimate (CE) as the principle planning tool is central to their conceptual development. Our aim has been to build their confidence in the CE by concentrating on their ability to tease out the key deductions which have shaped their plan and that to ensure these have been carried through to their orders. This is delivered through a combination of MAPEXs and TEWTs which have more than doubled in number (from five to eleven) and are linked to physical activity (eg the CFT finishes at the hasty platoon attack TEWT). By utilising the OCs back brief in the field we are also better at ensuring that it is used to come up with field tactical solutions.
The other major growth in conceptual training has been the inclusion of syndicate presentations on the major operations over the past thirty years (i.e. Falklands, NI, Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan). Each one of these is followed by a Realities of War presentation which aims to capture the major tactical lessons from each conflict and inculcate the importance of investing intellectually into their professional development.
Range work has expanded threefold, students qualify on all the Advanced Close Quarter Marksmanship Army Operational Shooting Policy shoots, conduct judgemental training in the DCCT and are trained on all the core weapon systems found in an Infantry Platoon. We have incorporated SIMUNITION during our week long OBUA exercise and aim to utilise this more widely. First aid has doubled and we have progressed CIED training from a standing start with self purchased metal detectors to well worked up battle lessons and exercises culminating in assessed serials during the Battlecamp confirmatory training.
To reflect the growth in capabilities available to the Infantry Platoon Commander, training includes:
Joint Fires training. This incorporates lectures from subject matter experts on Artillery Target Indication (ATI), aviation Close Combat Attack (CCA) and Emergency Close Air Support (ECAS), followed by practise using simulation in the DCCT. YOs also practise live ATI during the Support Weapons demonstration, and one practised and assessed with dry ATI and CCA during the Battlecamp exercise and conduct it live during Field Firing.
Non-Kinetic Effects training. YOs receive lectures from SMEs (when available) on Influence, media, the Military Stabilisation Support Group (MSSG) and PSYOPS. These are then practiced during the Battlecamp amongst a diverse CIVPOP made up of Spanish speaking Belizeans, Gurkhas and families from BATSUB and against a ruthless and unpredictable adversary.
Battle Group assets. From the second exercise onwards, the YOs are introduced to the full range of Support Weapons capabilities that are integral to the battalion. For example on the 1002 battle camp the following assets were available for tasking by the YOs: snipers, FSG, MFC/FST, formation recce (played by two sections from the HCR), visual trackers (played by locally employed civilians), interpreters, tracker dogs, ATO, RESA, Asslt Pnrs and aviation (25 Flt).
Partnering. Our relationship with the Belizean Defence Force has provided PCBC with a prime opportunity to practise partnering at the company to section level.
Moral Training and Development
As part of through life, through career development, moral training consists of syndicate room discussions on leadership challenges, realities of war and on field exercises by using the integrated RAAT infantry platoon to generate exercise serials, such as PTSD and battlefield discipline issues.
A lot has changed on PCBC over the last year but in no way are we there yet. The course must continue to evolve if it is going to continue to deliver YOs which are fit for purpose. Whilst through a number of initiatives and clever programming, PCD has found an additional two weeks worth of training time both in the UK and in Belize to accommodate the additional subject matter into the course, but the tempo is now flat out. We continually ask more from our YOs and must do all we can to provide them with the appropriate resources to achieve it.
The course looks really good, seriously. Its clearly improved considerably since I did it in 2002, and - to be honest, although I realise I'm bucking the cast-iron law of discussing courses - looks a good deal harder too.
In particular, I expect that the tolerance of weight has increased a lot. What seemed like crippling amounts of kit in 2002 after ( a body armour-free ) Sandhurst is probably a given now. Also interesting to note the attendance of Armd Recce YOs, who previously came to LWC to add a bit of tone & scuttle around SPTA in CVR(T) before binging on booze and outlandish orders of dress during their D&M and Gunnery phases in Bovy and Castemartin.
What I find interesting is the simultaneous increase in skills with a continued "emphasis on the basics".
During my course we had no media, CQG or CIED training, COIN theory or TTPs & no more than elementary Joint Fires training. Neither did we have an OTX. But, we were very busy and very tired. It was a tough course albeit one heavily orientated around shooting, tabbing, field firing and fighting Genfor in Sennybridge. In retrospect, it seems pretty primitive.
With that in mind, is the course still 13 weeks or longer? Does it obivate the need for IR OPTAG training prior to deployment?