Once you have passed the UK Armed Forces Assessment Centre the next step is to meet your Unit. It is important to meet your Unit, and start to get embedded in military culture as soon as possible. This will put you in a strong position ahead of the modular training programme you need to complete to become a trained solider.
The UK Armed Forces Army Reserve training programme is divided into three blocks:
- MOD1: Foundation weekend (this post).
- MOD2: Skills development.
- MOD3: Battle camp.
In between each of these blocks you will need to undertake distance learning via an online distance learning environment (which is accessible via Defence Connect). Once you have passed your MOD3 you are a trained solider and ready for trade training.
I have just finished MOD1 foundation weekended, and wanted to share my experience. So here goes.
You can undertake your MOD1 at multiple training establishments. But for me, my training was undertaken at ATR Grantham; which is the prime location for reserve training in the UK. The course was delivered by Reservists. This is different to Pirbright, where is it delivered by the regulars. Keep that in mind when you’re booking a course, as your experiences will be significantly different.
Day 0 (Friday): I arrived at 1900 via a hire car my Unit provided. I was directed to reception where I was checked in and was directed to the bunkhouse. Once I arrived at the bunkhouse, I was provided with a briefing, issued with a hydration belt and directed to my section room.
A section is defined as 12 persons. You’re all in the same room, have a main locker and a footer locker for all your items. I was first to arrive so picked the bunk furthest to the door. I unpacked all my gear, walked around the block to understand the layout and started to mingle with the recruits.
Day 1 (Saturday): Waking was 0515, with us needing to be at the cookhouse for 0600. I made sure I was up promptly at 0515, had a shave and shower and dressed in my civilian clothes. You do not wear your uniform until you’ve had your briefing later in the day.
After breakfast we returned to the block where we had a full kit check. This means you’re asked to show every item of kit your Unit has issued you. If anything is missing, you’re asked to keep a note and report it to your Unit. This was a very long process, but useful to benchmark what kit you have compared to your peers.
After kit inspection, we were shown how to iron our kit, and then told to report, in uniform, outside for inspection. We were then shown some basic drill and marched to our first lesson of the weekend. For the remained of Saturday you’re in a lecture-style room and taught the basics of military life, this includes military law, conduct and personal security.
Day 2 (Sunday): As with Saturday, you’re up at 0515, and at the cookhouse for 0600. Unlike Saturday Sunday is designed to be more hands on, and get you excited for military life. You started the day by having an introduction to physical fitness and the physical standards expected of you. You then move on to undertaking some exercises. This is where you’re guided on how to perform the correct physical exercises, and the importance of the physical pathway leading up to MOD2 and MOD3.
Don’t worry, you’re not expected to give maximum effort nor are you tested. It is purely designed to ensure you understand your own limits.
After the fitness session you’re then marched to have your first weapons familiarisation session with the SA80 assault rifle. If you’ve not seen a rifle before, it can come as a shock, but it is great fun and you learn a lot.
After the weapons familiarisation lesson you then head to the drill square for drills and marching. This is an hour and you’re taught some basic military terminology and marching technique. I was terrible but enjoyed it nonetheless. After drill, you’re sent to clear our your bunkhouse and sent home.
Overall I really enjoyed Foundation Weekend. It was a great introduction to military life, and really helps prepare you as you start your military career. For anyone who is attending the weekend, embrace it, and enjoy your time on camp.
Below are some bullet point key messages I’d recommend taking onboard:
- Be prepared for inconsistent messaging by different staff. While frustrating it all contributes to your learning.
- Urgency is the priority in the military.
- Take extra food such as snacks.
- Take a pen and notepad. You are expected to make notes.
- Grab sleep when you can.
- Make sure you take a shower (with flip-flops) daily.
- Be clean shaven as you’re attested.
- Fill your water bottle to the brim at every opportunity. If not, you’ll need to drop and do press-ups.
- Do not try to BS or lie to the staff as they will call you out.
- Take an iron. This will save you time.
- Take an extension lead as plugs are limited.
- Leave sexism at the door.
Header photo by Roberto Catarinicchia