This article provides an overview of the British Army’s Basic Close Combat Skills (BCCS), which can be simplistically termed ‘the skills required for basic soldiering’.
2.0 Defining the Terms
Before moving on to describing what BCCS is, we must define the various terms from a military perspective.
- Close combat means a violent physical confrontation between two or more opponents at short range, usually within 50-600 metres.
- Mounted combat means fighting an opponent whilst riding an animal or vehicle.
- Dismounted combat means fighting an opponent on foot.
3.0 What are Basic Close Combat Skills?
- Those military skills that are currently not taught at Phase 1 (basic training), but are the next progressive step to the basic field-craft skills taught to military personnel.
- Collective tasks at team, squad and section level, both dismounted and mounted.
- Lessons that have that have been identified by the Field Army on operations around the world.
Infantry recruits (aka Combat Troops, CA) will typically complete BCCS as part of their Combined Infantryman Course (CIC). Combat Support (CS) and Combat Service Support (CSS) troops may undertake BCCS towards the end of their Phase 2 (employment/trade) training.
- All Phase 2 soldiers leaving 10 Training Battalion, Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers (REME) will complete the BCCS programme which has the Military Annual Training Tests (MATTs) included.
- All Phase 2 soldiers leaving the Defence School of Communications Information Systems “must complete Basic Close Combat Skills (BCCS) at the end of their course…” (British Army, 2018a).
- All Phase 2 soldiers in the Royal Logistics Corps (RLC) attend BCCS delivered by the Military Driver Training Squadron (MDTS) located at the Defence School of Transport (British Army, 2018b).
- “This 48 hour exercise is designed to develop the skills learnt at Phase 1 and test your ability to execute Basic Close Combat Skills and operate as a member of a section under field conditions. The exercise must be undertaken by all trainees prior to joining the Field Army.” (RSME Matters, 2013, p.21).
These soldiers are typically loaded onto the BCCS course after completing their trade training and before departing for their first regimental assignment. The BCCS programme prepare soldiers for further military training with the Field Army.
4.0 Why are Basic Close Combat Skills Important?
It is extremely important that soldiers possess the military skills necessary to fight, survive, and win in an operational environment so they can perform their trade tasks, whether as an Infantryman, electrician, driver, clerk, or chef.
5.0 Outline of Basic Close Combat Skills
- Learning/developing basic military tactics starting with individual skills.
- Orders process.
- Fire team, section, and platoon level drills.
- Vehicle drills.
- Casualty evacuation (CASEVAC) drills.
- Live firing.
Personnel will generally start off with a walkthrough of the various drills taught by instructional staff before completing them as part of an ongoing assessment.
It is important to note that personnel undertaking BCCS will be wearing helmet, webbing, combat body armour (CBA), personal weapon, and any other equipment listed by the instructional staff.
BCCS are assessed on specific courses such as the Potential Non-Commissioned Officer (PNCO) and Command, Leadership & Management (CLM) career courses (The Sustainer, 2017). In 2017, the Royal Corps of Signals (Heathcote, 2017, p.12):
- Junior CLM “BCCS was reduced from 8.5 to 3 days.”
- Senior CLM “BCCS reduced from 3.5 to 1.5 days, including BCCS Round Robin practical skills to achieve Supervise BCCS critical TO [training objectives].”
6.0 Basic Close Combat Skills Instructor
The All Arms Basic Close Combat Skills Instructor Course is for personnel from any Arm or Service, except for Infantry personnel who attend the Section Commanders’ Battle Course (SCBC, aka ‘Junior Brecon’).
For attendance on the course, candidates require to be a Corporal, DTTT v2 qualified, ACMT and WHT pass. Experience in writing EASP/RASP is also useful.
Training takes place at Sennybridge Training Area (SENTA) and is two weeks in duration. Generally, the first two days of the course are classroom-based, then into the training area to ‘enjoy’ rations and running! Simplistically put, the course involves planning and conducting various Battle Lessons (BL) and Battle Exercises (BE).
Candidates will be taught basic Infantry skills and tactics, including:
- Contact drills.
- Patrol discipline.
- Room clearance drills.
- CASEVAC drills.
- Individual, pair, fire team, and section drills.
It is a challenging but worthwhile course, and it is advisable to:
- Take a good-quality daysack.
- Two water bottles/camelback.
- Have webbing ‘squared away’.
- Ensure weapon handling is refreshed.
- Ensure navigation/map reading is refreshed.
- Ensure section battle drills are refreshed.
- Take a laptop, with printer and A4 paper.
- Lamination machine.
- Nirex/water proof folder(s).
- TAMs (tactical aide memoires).
- Ensure 7 questions are refreshed.
- Brush up on EASPs.
- Train on hills as a number of the drills are performed uphill.
Those in command positions will also be carrying command equipment, e.g. binoculars.
The first week concentrates on basic tactics, culminating with 3-4 days in the field. The second week concentrates on the ‘M Qual’. Candidates conduct a live firing package and receive the ‘M Qual’ (the SA (M) (07) qualification to plan and conduct for blank firing activities with Infantry weapons systems and pyrotechnics).
There was a requirement for candidates to be an All Arms Skill at Arms (AA SAA) instructor, but this was removed around 2007.
7.0 Basic Tactics Course
The Basic Tactics Course (BTAC) was designed to train junior and senior NCOs, from other Arms and Services, in basic infantry tactics and qualify them to conduct low-level infantry training on return to their unit. Students must have completed the Defence Instructional Techniques Course prior to starting BTAC.
This course has since been superseded by the BCCS Instructor Course.
8.0 Useful Publications
- CLM Policy Handbook: Appendix J – Medical Standards for Basic Close Combat Skills (BCCS) Training.
- British Army (2007) Chief of the General Staff’s
- Briefing Team Report 2007(2). Available from World Wide Web: http://data.parliament.uk/DepositedPapers/Files/DEP2008-1202/DEP2008-1202.doc. [Accessed: 03 September, 2018].
- 2011DIN07-015: Army Basic Close Combat Skills (BCCS) Training Policy.
British Army. (2018a) Phase 2/3 Communications. Available from World Wide Web: https://www.army.mod.uk/who-we-are/our-schools-and-colleges/signals/. [Accessed: 03 September, 2018].
British Army. (2018b) Defence School of Transport. Available from World Wide Web: https://www.army.mod.uk/who-we-are/our-schools-and-colleges/transport/. [Accessed: 03 September, 2018].
Heathcote, H. (2017) DSCIS Update. The Wire: The Magazine of the Royal Corps of Signals. April 2017, p.12.
RSME Matters (Royal School of Military Engineering Matters). (2013) Soldier to Sapper. RSME Matters. Issue 12. May 2013, p.21.
The Sustainer. (2017) 152 (North Irish) Regiment. The Sustainer: The Journal of the Royal Logistic Corps. Winter 2017, p.49.