I found the course very interesting. We lived in the Officers mess as our mess was being rebuilt and it was suggested that future courses would continue to stay in the Officers Mess.
If you ever wondered what happened to all of the Captains and Majors that you used to know then you will find them all as Majors and Lt Col's hiding away at Shrivenham, there are hundreds of the blighters, all dressed completely differently.
Facilities are second to none, it is an awe inspiring place to study and obviously the course is very grown up. Accommodation/Food/Beer is excellent as you would expect.
The course itself is a real eye opener, obviously dependant on your background. It is very much geared towards working in a Joint environment. Hopefully you will have a good mix from all 3 services to even things out but it is likely to be Army heavy. It is a very busy couple of weeks with few breaks and lots of lectures, but they aren't boring. A lot of subject matter could not be discussed on here and you get the info straight from the proverbial horses mouth.
Lectures/briefings are normally followed by a group discussion. it is definately worth looking over the recommended pre-course reading, if only to have an idea of some of the topics.
Dress is CS95 or whatever your working dress is. Suits are required as you will have a couple of dinners. There is a good scruffs bar which does exactly what it says on the tin. You will also be required to give a Service briefing to your RAF/RN/RM brethren (this may have changed).
The course Staff are top notch. If you give the RAF WO a call he will be very helpful. The Lt Col who runs the course is barking, but in a good way and he REALLY knows his stuff. You will be split into syndicates on arrival and if you get the RN Lt Cdr as your syndicate leader it's a bonus.
Don't be surprised if you find yourself "chatting" to 1SL or CGS, and saying what you really think. It is very much a course of discussion and a good chance to find out what others really get up to, there is no competing to be done.
I suggest you go with an open mind as I guarantee that this course will change you in some way, hopefully for the better.
If you have any specific questions then let me know and I'll try my best.
I did the last one (July) and it was excellent. Two weeks of being treated like a grown up and discussing pertinent issues, such as political strategy and lots of stuff which is all too often confined to the Officers' Mess.
The facilities there are outstanding, as you'd expect when the place is heaving with senior officers. Plenty of opportunities to wreck your liver in the bar! On the first night we met the Commandant and his single-service Asst Comdts in the bar (didn't have a clue who they were but they sounded pretty switched on!) and spent the next few hours shooting the proverbial and drinking their port. Huzzah! The instructors were all good eggs (I had the Navy Lt Cdr as my DS and he was quality) and the lecturers and subject matter expert presenters were all on the ball. Oh and I also totally agree with floppyjocky's comment about the SO1 DS - he's a pure diamond and more than a little eccentric but he's a great person for the job.
I'm not sure if other guys who have attended JSWOC will agree but I felt that most of the the RAF blokes sat there and contributed nothing for two weeks. There were one or two exceptions but I wasn't really impressed, which is surprising because you might expect those guys (many in their 50's) to have picked up some opinions along the way. The Navy lads were excellent and far more on our wavelength as well as being of similar age!
Overall I thoroughly recommend it. I would hark back to the aim of the course though - it's intended for people in a joint service post or about to go to one. I would agree with that. If you're never going to serve tri-service then you might be wasting your time from a professional perspective. I might also suggest that it proved very edumacational for a couple of WOs who are going for LECB later this year (not me - I'm too thick). Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
"Sticky" W - the Course Director shown in the article is good bloke - got an MBE for the Berrill Valley "Rolling Bridge" concept and to be remembered for signing his memos with a happy/unhappy face depending on tone of memo, regardless of recipient.