Junior Leaders is a course which is designed to train cadets in advanced leadership and field craft. It is largely based on giving cadets an insight into what life is like as an officer within the armed forces.
The course starts in September with the applicants having to pass a series of tests at a selection weekend and ends in April the following year with a test week. Cadets must attend one weekend of training every 3 weeks at various locations around the UK and in the test week you are “deployed” into the field for a week and must put all of your training into the one week in which you will deal with various scenarios ranging from casualty evacuation to assaulting an enemy village.
The course itself is split up into 3 different phases with phase 1 compromising of the basic training before you are sent into the field. Phase 2 is where you are introduced to life in the field and start to actually put your training into practise whilst being taught some of the more practical elements of the course such as patrolling. Phase 3 is the test week whereby you are assessed and if you pass the course then you attend a graduation dinner at the Officers Mess in RAF Honington.
The course is extremely challenging and very mentally straining however it is also very rewarding and offers a unique experience for those who attend it. Throughout the course I personally found it very difficult to take all of the new information on board, and then be able to not only apply it in various different scenarios, but also lead a group of strangers who in some circumstances had more experience than I did. In addition, I found very difficult to keep focused outside of the course because you must constantly revise everything you have been taught as well as complete extra work, and this is especially distracting when you are studying for your exams at school and have commitments elsewhere.
Despite this I found the course to be extremely rewarding and one of the best experiences of my life. This is because some of the people I attended the course with have now become very close friends and the opportunities on offer are unique to the course. Some of the moments on the course I particularly enjoyed were being deployed into the field on test week by an RAF Merlin helicopter, the formal dinner at the Officers Mess at RAF Honington and going home to enjoy a proper hot shower and not having to eat any more ration packs!
Flight Sergeant Foxcroft.