British Army training chiefs have been examining the lessons from a pilot leadership course, which saw aspiring non-commissioned officers (NCOs) from across the Infantry train together for the first time.
Although this mental and physical test of command is usually carried out in regiment, the one-off change was made due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
It meant troops from 22 battalions converged on Brecon for the Junior NCO cadre and the School of Infantry is now examining how the delivery could be used in any future training.
In all, 141 (out of 149) aspiring leaders completed the courses – a pass rate of 95% – while the best performing soldiers were instantly promoted.
Chief of Staff Lieutenant Colonel Mike Potter (Royal Irish) said the coronavirus situation had required a training rethink. “While a number of organisations had suspended their programmes, we were open for business,” he added. “We also had some spare capacity – and with the experience we have in Brecon we felt it would be a good opportunity to help with a cadre.”
Candidates were put through three weeks of instruction before venturing onto the demanding Sennybridge training area for 14 days of exercise.
The Potter continued: “Our instructors are experts in teaching infantry skills and mixing the different cap badges was also good – it meant that soldiers were able to meet their colleagues from several different Armywide battalions.”
In a move endorsed by their chain of command, the top student in each of the four platoons received promotion to Lance Corporal.
Colonel Andrew Hadfield, Commandant of the School of Infantry, was also pleased with the way the course had been rapidly assembled and delivered. A formal exercise report is being compiled for senior command, he said.
Meanwhile, the initiative also impressed senior soldiers including Army Sergeant Major WO1 Gav Paton, who went to see the troops in action. He added: “The Corporals, in particular, on the training teams really made this work and they again showed why they are one of the most important ranks in the Army.”
Soldier. (2020) Junior NCO Cadre Points the Way. Soldier: Magazine of the British Army. October 2020, pp.12.