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Sandhurst Colour Sergeant – A Personal Profile by CSgt M I Cooke

Prior to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst I was a Sergeant with the Prince of Wales’s Division Training Team in Tidworth from February 2006 to August 2007. I was offered a number of career- enhancing courses namely the CBRN instructor’s course, the AAA Drill course and the BCDT course. I was also sent on a course at the Academy itself called the Sandhurst Look at Life Course, in preparation for the instructor’s cadre. It is worth pointing out that, at this time, I was still unsure about a posting to Sandhurst as an instructor post at Brecon appealed most and felt like a more natural choice as I saw Brecon as a second home. Looking back now, I would not have changed anything.

Upon arrival at the Royal Military Academy for the Cadre, you generally do not know what to expect as everything is kept under wraps and the existing instructors are briefed to keep away. There were about 60 applicants for 30 places. At first, there was much self-induced pressure and also much hype about the cadre and candidates kept their cards close to their chest refusing to reveal themselves completely. The Household Division tend to dominate the cadre in terms of numbers and there is definitely a feeling of safety in numbers. However, I was very proud to represent a regiment not in the Household Division and specifically The Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment as the last SNCO to come through the cadre before Formation of The Mercian Regiment. The days when all of the Directing Staff at Sandhurst were Guards are over. The cadre is now a little different. There is less of the self-induced pressure and less of the

unknown as you receive a timetable of all the lessons on day one.

Following selection from the cadre, you report mid-August to start the first of six terms. The terms are 14 weeks long and, generally, the first term at the Academy is spent in the Skill at Arms Wing teaching cadets from all three of the terms. Lessons vary from weapon handling and marksmanship principles to grenade ranges and the APWT. The Wing offers the opportunity to engage with the cadets and to work closely with other CSgts. The perk is a fair bit of down time when not taking lessons or ranges when you can get away from the office.

Once you have spent some time at Sandhurst getting to know how things work, you will be moved to one of the Colleges and given a Platoon of Officer Cadets. This is when you find out what Sandhurst is really about. You work very closely with the cadets and also the other two Platoon CSgts in the Company, the three Platoon Commanders, the CQMS, the CSM and the Company Commander. The Officer Cadets you instruct are an absolute pleasure to work with. They are fit, motivated, interesting and well travelled but you still get the ones that slip the net to become the Platoon clown. They react effectively to criticism and praise alike and they take on information very quickly. The Junior Term is spent in Old College and this term is busy and is a very “hands on” term as far as the cadets are concerned. As the cadets move through the Commissioning Course and into the Intermediate Term this relents slightly and you can begin to trust the cadets to be responsible for themselves

A Colour Sergeant’s Perspective of RMAS

by CSgt W M Spiers-King “An officer will always remember his Colour Sergeant at The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst” was a statement often made during my time here at RMAS - not by me, my peers or by any of the Warrant Officers here but by serving Officers: this alone should inspire fellow MERCIANS to want to continue the tradition. Indeed, RMAS is the only Academy in the world where non- commissioned men mentor and train the soon-to-be-commissioned officers. After a little gentle persuasion from my Battalion (then 1 STAFFORDS), I found myself on the Assistant Instructors’ Cadre in the summer of 2007. The cadre is intense but this sets the aspiring instructor up well for a fast-paced

The Mercian Eagle

appointment as was briefed on the cadre: RMAS has two speeds… Full tilt and STOP! This is not entirely true, but I will allude to why later on.

The cadre enables the individual to pitch himself against a very strong peer group and this often fazes people out. It is uncharacteristic of soldiers, not in the competing part, but the very business of putting themselves in the spotlight, to the degree where they are not so much assessed as analysed in every aspect of ability. Herein lies the greatest myth; they are not looking for the super fit, the most diligent instructor, the “stickman”. They want to see suitability to teach, relate to and get the best out of a

highly motivated, intelligent group of young men and women. Indeed, better instructors than I were unsuccessful not because those of us who were chosen were better but just simply more suited to the rôle.

Prior to attendance on the Cadre, there are a number of prerequisite courses: CBRN, BCDT, RMAS Look at Life and everyone’s favourite - Senior Drill - which was actually a good instructional course! One piece of advice would be to integrate as early as possible as a large proportion of attendees on these courses are Pre-Cadre and whilst some may form cliques, it helps to transcend the myth that the cadre is individual best effort. A strong team member is definitely more suited

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a little more, freeing up more of your own time. There is a real variety in the training as the course covers so much in one year. Exercises vary from conventional offensive and defensive ops to FIBUA, public order and live firing. You can expect to spend, on average, three terms in the Wing and three terms in the Colleges as a Platoon CSgt.

Whilst at the Academy, there are plenty of opportunities outside the Commissioning Course such as sports and sports tours and overseas competitions. Recently, the Academy rugby team toured the USA, the football team went to Spain and all required a number of DS to assist in admin! There is also an opportunity to get involved with the annual Sandhurst Cup Competition which takes place at Westpoint, the US Military Academy in New York. This was something I was heavily involved with during my time in the Wing and it involved 14 weeks of extra training for the cadets. It did offer perks such as Altberg boots, North Face bags, extra supplements and two weeks in the USA (three weeks as a CSgt!). It truly was a very rewarding experience.

To recap, I did not want to come here because I knew so little about the place. Once settled in, however, the system is easy enough to grasp. The facilities at Sandhurst are second to none so make an effort to use them as you will generally not see them in the everyday Army (Pentathlon, Fencing, Clay Pigeon Shooting... whatever tickles your fancy!). A posting as a Sandhurst Colour Sergeant Assistant Instructor really is unique and worthwhile.

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