Last Updated: 08 August, 2016

Royal Marines Lance Corporals on exercise in the hills of Sennybridge Wales, during the 11 week Junior Command Course.1.0     Introduction

The Infantry, along with the Royal Armoured Corps and the Household Cavalry, form the Combat Arms of the British Army.

In 2012, the Capability Directorate Combat (CD Cbt) (encompassing Mounted Close Combat and Dismounted Close Combat) brought together elements of HQ Infantry, HQ Armour and Capability Ground Manoeuvre in one central authority, tasked with developing a coherent approach to land capability in the UK.

On 08 July 2016, the MOD announced that all Ground Close Combat Roles (RAC, Infantry, Royal Marines and the RAF Regiment) would be opened to women by 2018 (British Army, 2016).

2.0     Training Hierarchy

The School of Infantry forms part of the Army Recruiting and Training Division (ARTD), commanded by the Director General Army Recruiting and Training (DG ART), a Major General, who in turn reports to the Commander Force Development and Training (FDT), a Lieutenant General (OF-8).

During the 2013/2014 training year the ARTD was re-subordinated back to the Adjutant General’s Corps (AGC), also under the command of a Lieutenant General (OF-8), and at the same time absorbed the Collective Training Group (CTG).

00,10,01b - Figure 1

Figure 1: Infantry training landscape

3.0     School of Infantry

Catterick is the home of all Infantry Training at Phase 1 and Phase 2, except for Junior Entry soldiers. Catterick comprises the Headquarters School of Infantry, commanded by a Brigadier, and the Infantry Training Centre, Catterick. Also under its command are the Infantry Battle School at Brecon and the Support Weapons School based at the Land Warfare Centre in Warminster, which both provide Phase 3 training for Infantry officers and soldiers.

SENTA (2)3.1     Land Warfare Centre

The Land Warfare Centre (LWC), commanded by a Colonel (OF-5), is located at Warminster on Salisbury Plain and is the British Army’s principal training area.

The LWC is responsible for the development and delivery of education and training to 2,000+ students per year, ranging from Corporals to Brigadier.

LWC comprises a number of distinct entities that support the British Army. One entity is the Directorate of Land Warfare, commanded by a Brigadier (OF-6), which has a number of objectives associated with the development of land-warfare including seeking and learning lessons from operations and training.

The Analysis & Assessment Team (AAT) is a part of the Scientific Advisor (Land) branch (SCIAD(L)) office, based at LWC, and is staffed by civilians within an environment comprising predominantly Army personnel. The AAT generally applies mathematics, statistics and sometimes computer modelling to provide information and advice to military decision makers. The advice can be delivered to customers local to Warminster or further afield within the UK or abroad. The AAT is a small team managed by a Principal Analyst.

4.0     Infantry Training Centre

The Infantry Training Centre (ITC), located in Catterick and commanded by a Colonel (OF-5), trains all the British Army’s infantrymen, producing some of the best infantry soldiers in the world.

Recruits joining any of the Infantry Regiments – including The Footguards, The Parachute Regiment and The Brigade of Gurkhas – complete the appropriate Combat Infantryman’s Course (CIC) at ITC Catterick, which represents their combined Phase 1 and 2 training.

Junior Entry infantry soldiers (aged 16-17) receive Phase 1 training at the Army Foundation College Harrogate, then move on to ITC Catterick to complete their 12-week Phase 2 training programme before joining their battalions.

ITC Catterick runs four versions of the CIC: Line Infantry; Foot Guards; Para’s; and Gurkha and consists of three Battalions (ITC Support Battalion (ITC SB), 1st Infantry Training Battalion (1 ITB) and 2nd Infantry Training Battalion (2 ITB)). Located within the ITC Catterick is:

  1. Pegasus Company;
  2. Army School of Ceremonial;
  3. Parachute Course Administration Unit;
  4. Army School of Bagpipes and Highland Drumming

For more information about an infantrymen’s initial combined Phase 1 and 2 training and the Combat Infantryman’s Course view: British Army Phase 1 Initial Training, Part Five.

4.1     Pegasus Company

Pegasus Company (P Coy) is located at the Infantry Training Centre in Catterick, North Yorkshire and is staffed by serving members of The Parachute Regiment and 16 Air Assault Brigade. P Coy runs Pre-Parachute Selection (PPS) courses for both Regular Army and Army Reserve personnel.

All officers and soldiers who want to serve with Airborne Forces must attend PPS with P Coy. P Coy’s mission is to test physical fitness, determination and mental robustness, under conditions of stress, to determine whether an individual has the self-discipline and motivation required for service with Airborne Forces. PPS is both physically and mentally demanding. Candidates can expect to be pushed to their limits and beyond. The prize, for those who are successful, is the award of the coveted maroon beret and the opportunity to go on to conduct the Basic Parachute Course at RAF Brize Norton.

4.1.1  Courses

All Pegasus Company (P Coy) courses are attended by volunteers from across the British Army who aspire to join the Airborne Forces. The common standards, both in the training and selection of prospective airborne soldiers, form a key part of The Parachute Regiment and 16 Air Assault Brigade’s ethos and culture.

The P Coy programme takes students beyond their own appetite for challenge, testing their physical and mental robustness, and in doing so, assessing their commitment and suitability to serve with Airborne Forces. P Coy delivers the following courses:

  • All Arms Pre-Parachute Selection
  • Recruit Test Week
  • Army Reserve Pre-Parachute Selection
  • Army Reserve Combat Infantryman Course
  • Exercise Airborne Student

4.1.2  All Arms Pre-Parachute Selection

All serving officers and soldiers who wish to join an Airborne Unit must attend All Arms Pre-Parachute Selection (AAPPS). The course lasts 3½ weeks and is split into three phases:

  • Phase 1: Screening – held on the first Monday of the course, comprising the Combat Fitness Test, an eight-mile squadded march carrying a 35lb bergen (plus water) and weapon, conducted in the standard British Army time of 1 hour 50 minutes. Trainasium – aerial confidence course. Basic Fitness Assessment – 1½-mile run, which must be completed in under 9½ minutes.
  • Phase 2: Build Up – this phase lasts 2½ weeks and is a progressive physical build up to Test Week. It also includes a military skills package, which delivers the most recent operational tactics, techniques and procedures in order to prepare students for service with their Airborne Unit.
  • Phase 3: Test Week

4.1.3  Recruit Test Week

P Coy delivers Test Week to Parachute Regiment recruits in Week 21 of the Combined Infantry Syllabus. The Test Week undertaken by recruits is identical to the one undertaken in Week 3 of the AAPPS.

4.1.4  Army Reserve Pre-Parachute Selection

P Coy delivers a condensed 4-day Pre-Parachute Selection course tailored to the requirements of the 4th Battalion, The Parachute Regiment (4 PARA) and other Reserve Airborne Units. It differs only slightly from the Regular Army’s Test Week – the main differences being one less event (endurance march), extra time allocated to the 10-miler (10 minutes), the steeplechase (1½ minutes) and the two-miler (1 minute).

4.1.5  Army Reserve Combat Infantryman Course

P Coy delivers a 12-day Combat Infantryman Course (CIC) to recruits from the 4th Battalion, The Parachute Regiment (4 PARA). The CIC includes instruction on fieldcraft, shooting, platoon-level tactics and a five-day exercise. The CIC is immediately followed by the Army Reserve Pre-Parachute Selection Test Week.

4.1.6  Exercise Airborne Student

This is a 9-day intensive course for officer cadets from the 19 University Officer Training Corps. Exercise Airborne Student includes tuition on field craft, section-level tactics, patrolling and a two-day confirmatory battle exercise. Exercise Airborne Student culminates with Army Reserve Pre-Parachute Selection Test Week.

4.2     Army School of Ceremonial

The Army School of Ceremonial (ASC) includes the Drumming Wing and the All Arms Drill Wing:

  1. The Drumming Wing teaches musical skills from scratch.
  2. The All Arms Drill Wing runs courses covering drill for Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs) and senior NCOs.

Over a typical year, 400 students attend courses at the ASC.

4.2.1  All Arms Drill Wing

Drill is still a huge part of the British Army’s role – smart, disciplined and together. It is a big part of the Army’s values and standards, and involves role modelling, team cohesion and presentation.

4.2.2  Courses

The All Arms Drill Wing runs the basic drill course which lasts 13 days and is aimed at junior NCOs getting ready to be posted to an Army Training Regiment or Recruit Training Centre, or senior NCOs attending Royal Military Academy Sandhurst Cadre. The basic drill course runs six times a year.

The advanced drill course, of which there are four each year, is aimed at Senior NCOs and Warrant Officers who are taking on the role of drill instructor at unit level. The advanced drill course also offers the student the chance to take up a BTEC level four qualification in teaching. There are also Army Reserve and Drum Major courses which run twice a year.

4.3     Parachute Course Administration Unit

The Parachute Course Administration Unit (PCAU) is based at Royal Air Force (RAF) Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.

PCAU has a long-established relationship with the RAF’s No 1 Parachute Training School. We provide support for students of all ranks, and support RAF Instructors to enable courses to be conducted smoothly. This allows both students and instructors to concentrate fully on the main objective – that of producing trained military parachutists for operations. PCAU also provides manpower and resources for the airborne equipment demonstrations conducted for a wide range of VIPs who visit the school. The demonstrations seek to introduce visitors to the world of military parachuting. Most visitors rapidly gain an insight into the demand for high standards of fitness required by paratroopers when invited to don complete ‘Jumping Order’ with parachutes, heavy-weapons load and full-issue kit. PCAU also maintains the tri-service database for all service parachutists. This database is consulted by a variety of establishments seeking information for reasons ranging from pay entitlement to historical interest by veterans’ groups. The data is also regularly consulted by Service Police in cases of suspected fraud and/or non-entitlement to wear parachutist’s wings. With electronic records dating back to 1967 and a card index back to the 1940s, no-one slips through the net.

4.3.1  Courses

Courses are always heavily oversubscribed. The Parachute Course Administration Unit does not routinely accept bids from individuals. Course bids, for entitled personnel only, should be made via Unit or Formation air staff.

To attend a Basic Parachute Course (BPC), soldiers and officers must have completed and passed one of the following:

  • Pre Para Selection:
  • Special Forces Selection
  • Royal Marines Commando Course

This includes servicemen from all Reserve Forces.

Only members of the Parachute Regiment and Special Forces (SF) are guaranteed places on basic courses. All other students are loaded on courses in accordance with Ministry of Defence guidelines, which take into account Unit role and the number of personnel within selected Units entitled to parachute. Specialist parachute courses are also conducted for both SF and Field Army/FLEET Units to train students in the skills of Static Line Square parachuting and Military Free Fall parachuting.

4.3.2  Basic Parachute Course Content

The Regular Forces BPC lasts for up to three weeks. Reserve Forces students arrive at the school partially trained, so their course last only two weeks.In the first week the basic skills of a parachutist are taught. These include aircraft drills to enable students to properly exit the C130 Hercules aircraft, and landing and emergency drills for all situations that may arise during a descent. The first week is very intensive and requires 100 per cent effort from all students. Those who reach the required standard could find themselves making their first descent by the fourth day of the first week. During the next two weeks, students are taught all the additional skills required to become operational parachutists. These include equipment packing, emplaning and drop zone drills. To qualify for the Military Parachute Wings, students have to complete a number of parachute descents. Each descent is a progression from the last, starting from 1,000ft with equipment to a final descent from 600ft with full equipment, at night. Students who fail to reach the required standard during each phase have to repeat that descent.

5.0     Infantry Battle School

The Infantry Battle School (IBS) in Brecon, Mid-Wales is part of the School of Infantry. It delivers trained officers and soldiers to meet the operational requirements of the Infantry, the Army and Defence.

IBS conducts realistic battle training for officers who have passed out of Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS) and for Warrant Officers, SNCOs and JNCOs. This encompasses Phase 2 training for officers (who do not attend the ITC Catterick, but undergo their Phase 1 initial training at RMAS) and Phase 3 training for NCOs and Warrant Officers. IBS has a permanent military staff of approximately 250, including a company drawn from the Brigade of Gurkhas which provides realistic opposition for those undergoing training at Brecon.

IBS delivers competent and confident commanders for the Field Army by running command and leadership training, infantry tactics training, weapons training, and live firing range qualifications. It also provides specialist training teams to assist foreign forces in their development, and allocates some places on courses to overseas students.

All courses are delivered by four distinct divisions within IBS:

  1. The Platoon Commanders’ Division:
    1. Platoon Commanders’ Battle Course (Phase 2).
  2. The Senior Division:
    1. Infantry Warrant Officers Course (IWOC).
    2. Platoon Sergeants Battle Course (Senior Brecon).
  3. The Junior Division:
    1. Tactics (Junior Brecon).
  4. The Infantry Weapons’ Division, consisting of:
    1. SAA (Skill at Arms) Wing for SAA Instructors and Range Supervisors.
    2. LFTT (Live Firing Tactical Training) Wing for Platoon Commanders and Platoon Sergeants Battle Course.

Table 1 highlights the courses offered by the IBS: Table 1: Infantry Battle School Courses

6.0     Support Weapons School

The Support Weapons School (SWS), based at the Land Warfare Centre in Warminster, forms part of the School of Infantry.

The mission of SWS is to provide trained officers and soldiers in order to meet the operational requirements of the Army. While most students at the school are from across the Infantry, the SWS trains personnel from other Arms and Services. Over the past few years, students from the Royal Armoured Corps, Royal Marines and RAF Regiment, as well as a number of overseas students, have trained on support weapons at SWS. SWS comprises three training Divisions:

  1. Mortar Division.
  2. Direct Fire Support (DFSp) Division (Since 2014, formerly the Fire Support Group Division). DFSp consists of:
    1. Anti-tank Wing: delivers training on Javelin & Heavy Machine Gun (HMG)
    2. MG Wing: delivers training on GPMG SF, HMG and Grenade Machine Gun (GMG)
    3. Both Wings deliver a Tactical Vehicle Commanders Course (TVCC)
  3. Communications Information Systems (CIS) Division

Most SWS courses are promotion-qualifying career courses and as such, all three Divisions train command, control and leadership (CLM) at all levels in all specialities.

7.0     Driver Training

The Defence School of Transport (DST) has a Northern satellite location at the ITC Catterick providing car license acquisition to Infantry soldiers.

8.0     Cost of Training

In 2012, it was estimated that the cost per soldier recruit for Phase 2 training (including Infantry Battle School) for the Infantry was £17,420 to £29,000 (HC, 2012).

9.0     References

HC (House of Common Debates) Daily Hansard – Written Answer, 12 June 2012, Column 449W. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 12 March, 2014].

British Army (2016) Ground Close Combat Roles Open To Women. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 08 August, 2016].


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.