Training (Lack of)

As every one is aware it takes quite a considerable time to get a recruit through
there first 2 Weekends, and on to 2 Week basic training, in this time what do you
teach a recruit?
I have been told that procedure laid down states that you can only
touch lightly on the subjects that are taught on basic trg, is this right?
If so I am sure this must put a strain on the recruit staff for lesson ideas?
Or do most TACs just teach the normal recruit syllabus regardless.
Or is teaching a recruit only up to lesson 2 on the SA80 before recruit training a
Way of making the recruit look forward to!!
What sort of training is out on parade nights for a pre- basic trg recruit?
Discipline's point is a concern currently. To provoke debate this is what we do:

Recruits are bundled to an Intake night timed to leave 2 drill nights prior to Med W/E. The drill nights are used to complete paperwork and checks correctly, and to brief in detail as to format of Med W/E, TAFS and RT. This isn't inspiring, but reduces the admin mistakes, and candidates are briefed that it is necessary and we cannot allow them to conduct ANY training until they pass the Medical ('We had this bloke once, had had a liver transplant ...' etc.). A plausable and sensible reason, a short time period, and if they won't put up with up to two drill nights of paperwork they are unlikely to stay.

Confirmation of changes to the RT syllabus are awaited. It is intended to add to it to increase interest prior to RT1. Nothing is new, but what I want to do may be of interest:

1. We are an exclusive club - a short gallop through Regt/Corps history, snapshots e.g. what it is like to conduct or receive a charge of heavy cavalry, 'a ton and a half of horse and armoured cuirassier (like the Household Cavalry), see those 2 x 3/4 ton Landrovers? well imagine them driving at you at 20 miles an hour' etc.

Allied to

2. Reasons behind insignia worn (relevance/pride) to enliven how to prepare and wear uniform - so they look and feel the part as soon as it is issued, and they WANT to get it. St. Edwards Crown, a hackle, a tradition (the weirder the better) badge on the reverse of the beret, Tartan/Hodden Grey etc.

3. Wpn Handling - I want to see their reaction to holding a gun as early as possible. But, also a look forward by showing LSW, GPMG, 51mm, 94mm, Chorley, UGL etc. Items can be borrowed and it will capture interest. Show them just enough to make them want more.

4. The rank structure - 'Stripes, who knows where the chevron came from? (heraldic device to denote someone who had been on a Crusade). CSgt - Origin of (escort to the ensigns carrying The Colours) etc.

Allied to

5. Intro to Sect Attack and Pl structure to demonstrate the relevant bits of 4 above and produce interest. The type of unit is irrelevant, they will do sect attacks during RT.

If more is possible:

6. Fitness Assessments - PTI is tasked to produce an outline fitness programme for each potential recruit - heart and lungs/upper body/lower body/endurance/weight. Simplistic but gives maximum time to prepare. Currently this happens later.

7. Principles of marksmanship and shooting techniques. NOT powerpoint, but hands on with a thin pole stuck in the barrel to demonstrate elevation. This is NOT covered sufficiently, and any extra time spent on this will pay dividends later.

When possible, attestations are held in front of The Colours with The Drums piled. The padre says prayers for The Queen, The Regimental Collect, and for all those on Operations. It is really quite moving, reinforces the point about Ops, and is very memorable. Something similar must be possible for all units. Those who have affirmed are asked to pause to reflect whilst the prayers are being said, they have just affirmed allegiance, joined the family, and will probably go on Ops so whether they listen to the words or reflect on the subjects is up to them.

Not a perfect system, nor 'right', but contrary views would be much appreciated. If anyone recognises the above and has been through it, feedback is gold dust.

GH - Interested to hear about your early recruit training, though a little concerned. I assume that your recruits are not attested before their medical. In which case they shouldn't be doing any formal training that early on with the exception of their Recruit Selection Weekend. Until a recruit is fully attested and TOS he's only covered by the general MOD liability insurance provided for 'look at life' type events such as Ex Executitve Stretch and this places limitations on what you can do with them. Also, until their paperwork has been through APC and their basic sy check is done they should be considered visitors and escorted as such. I may have misunderstood the overall process you use, however, as it seems my lot do things differently

With regard to weapon handling - from an instructors point of view I fully understand your desire to see their reaction to handling a weapon as early as possible, and in my personal opinion basic skill at arms lessons early on are retention posative. However, and this is policy quoted from the lips of a very senior staff officer at a study day last year, "Thou shalt not teach subjects which are on the syllabus for the Part 2 CMSR(TA) 2 week basic training course run by ATRA at unit level during TAFS". They require a virtually blank canvas on which to start. Part of the reason put forward for this is to ensure consistency in training standards particulalry with respect to weapon handling. Apparantly there have been some horror stories of recruits turning up having been taught SLR drills on an SA80. Of course, the swell of opinion from the floor of that meeting was that if TA personel have qualified as SAA instructors then let them teach. The point was not conceeded.

Now rules is rules and my mob have been obeying them, but often my sprogs come back from their 2 week course having found it more intense than others because it seems many units are ignoring the rules and teaching them SAA on TAFS weekends. Since my guys are therefore at a disadvantage I'm forced to consider breaking the rules aswell. A few instructors at ATR have indeed been quoted as agreeing that we should introduce them to weapon handling before the 2-week-er, after all it does make it a very steep and intense learning curve for some of them otherwise.

Anyway, at the risk of a very long post, the outline of how we process our sprogs goes thus:

After one or two visits and the initial reception interview the completed forms are fed into the system, whilst the contact is nurtured by personal contact and mail shots. About once every six weeks we run a Recruit Reception Morning when the Doc does his medical bit, and we give each recruit a formal interview and a mock written entrance test. This is timed to feed into a Recruit Selection Course a couple of weeks later run at Regimental level. Until the RSC they are called potential recruits and treated still as visitors, though if they wish to attend drill night they are allowed to sit in on lessons for interest and generally 'buttered-up'. On the Sunday of the RSC they are formally attested in a ceremony with all the trimmings (less the Padre - good idea, I'll suggest that one to the boss).

Their first drill night as new recruits they receive a Troop Commander's address covering very very brief introductions to issues like H&S, Sy, PT advice, etc, with a big emphasis on drill night routine and values and standards. They then get the 'users' tour of the TAC to orientate them (having only had the 'visitors' tour before which excludes the armoury etc). Finally one of my JNCO instructors shows them how to clean boots & iron kit etc.

The remaining training night lessons before their 2-week-er, to answer D's original question, comprise mainly interest lessons which either reinforce the limited TAFS syllabus or are not on Phase 1 training at all. They are aimed PURELY at retention and nurturing interest, leaving the formal training to the weekends. For example, we'll get the NVGs and CWS out and let them have a go, introduce them to basic VP etc as signals doesn't clash with phase 1 trg. Also - Hand signals for guiding B-vehicles, mines awareness, Sqn & Regt history, foot drill, introduction to the bayonett and pistol (no drills), introduction to support weapons (again no drills just a lecture on parts & capabilities and 'feeling the weight'). vehicle camoflage drills, basic recognition, a briefing on how mobilisation works, introduction to survival skills, mini-command tasks etc etc. Also I get heads of sheds to get someone from their department to run an interest lesson on each career stream, 'Look at life - Chef' for example, where they find out what its like working in a particular job from the guy thats doing it now and have a go at some very simple bits. This helps them get an idea of what jobs are available to them and allows heads of departments with lots of vaccancies to 'sell' their department.

I must admit we've had to be very inventive to keep comming up with fresh ideas and keep them interested, but its a great way for the JNCOs to practice their teaching skills, because if they make the odd mistake the recruits won't take the piss and potentially damage their confidence as the trained soldiers might.

End of long scribble - hope this is useful

To confirm, no 'proper' training is done prior to attestation, certainly no running about. However in a 'passive' way interest themes can be developed.

Understand ref the training syllabus. Last year we lost a lot of recruits in Phase 1 who stated they did not feel confident with weapons, and wanted more familiarisation and training. They felt under pressure on RT W/Es, and did not feel they were safe. My term 'weapon handling' is similar to your definition. The specific reason for wanting to see a weapon in their hands is to see their reaction (Rambo, frightened etc). Wpns are not a part of TAFS 2 (command/leaderless tasks, fitness tests, intro to foot drill at the halt etc)

The aim of what was outlined will be to provide passive support to what is to be taught in Phase 1, then to confirm what has been taught. Agree that it is a very fine line. Please note the numbered points are what I want to do in the future, NOT what happens now.

Thank you for clarifying so many points in detail, it is very easy to be an amendment behind. I will look at what we do to ensure that we do and will comply especially ref insurance.

I will PM with some specific points.

Thank you gung-hobo, Rockbasha

Some great training ideas for training nights and starting points to elaborate on, much
appreciated, just a case now to try and drop it into conversations,
Just out of interest those units that do teach the recruit syllabus prior to basic training do they
generally outshine others, not every recruit can turn up to basic trg with a blank canvas as in
knowledge, ie ex cadets or ex regulars, so if that is the case maybe a few boundaries could be
moved slightly ref training for others.
Just one other thing, not quite sure ref horror stories why would a SAA instructor in a TA unit
be any different to the SAA instructors on basic trg, surely the instruction methods and weapon
pamphlets if updated are the same

Definitely think I misunderstood a good deal of your first post. I suspect mainly because of the differences between Inf and Corps and also because of terminology. We definitely appear to agree on the weapon handling issue though. When I got into training recruits I guess I just assumed that everybody did it in exactly the same way but I am rapidly discovering that there is a very wide variation indeed. Will reply your PM with more detail.


Not sure that recruits who've had some part 2 and part 3 training before their 2-week-er shine as such. The impression I get is that they simply have an easier time of it because they've had a more substantial 'heads up'. Of course this is only the view I've gained from little 'snap shots' and post course interviews with my sprogs.

Must admit I was baffled by the 'horror stories' bit. I think it was probably a great deal of bluff and bluster about one or two isolated incidents. Though it does make you wonder whether there's just a teency weency bit of ARAB-like attitude that TA instructrors aren't up to the job. I very much hope not as this would make a mockery of the one-army proffessional standards stuff so many people are trumpetting.

Part of the issue is that when the current three part system was introduced in '03, the idea was to take the regular army training process and superimpose it on the TA - hence TAFS being introduced to reflect AFS the regs do. The problem is that yet again the fundamental differences in the psycology of TA and regular recruits were not fully understood. A regular recruit will be prepared to wait around for the next stage and to jump though various hoops before getting to actual basic training because its a career decision. As we know, however, the average TA recruit just wants to get into green kit and go running around a training area blatting off blanks and being war-like at the earliest opportunity.

When I asked what we were allowed to do with recruits on drill nights before they go to an ATR the answer was drill and PT. Well given a severe lack of qualified PTIs the later is almost impossible. With our lot it takes at least four weeks to get them through RSC, TAFS-1, and TAFS-2 assuming they can actually make three weekends in sequence and don't have to wait around until the next cycle. Add to that the four to six weeks minimum flash to bang time bewtween submitting a CMSR(TA) course bid to Upavon and actually starting the course (you're not supposed to bid until they've completed TAFS, though some units bid before). With all this you're looking at an absolute minimum of eight to ten weeks when were expected to give them nothing but drill and occasional PT! Our survey said "Ah ah"!

This I think is why were having to scratch our heads and run around magic-ing up stuff to keep them occupied. Lets hope the new system for delivering Phase one training sorts some of these things out when it kicks off later this year. I won't be holding my breath though.
hello gentlemen
i am currently serving as a regular section commander at a CMS(R) training establishment that trains TA recruits 10 / 12 times a year
i personnally have completed 10 courses and have a new course on friday,
i teach SAA,BCD,CBRN and MAPRIC so if you want the opinion of the inst then please ask and i'll be happy to give you my observations of the previous ten courses
cheers nutty,

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