CWO Chubb from 211 (Newbury) squadron recently completed the Junior Leaders courses run by HQAC and has provided an account of her experience on the course. Remember that the next Junior Leaders course is available to apply for if you meet the requirements so speak to squadron staff to get more information.
“All the training, practice and evaluation led to this moment. You’d think most people would be excited the end was in sight however I was thinking I am about to embark on the hardest week of my life by choice. I was not wrong. Covering many kilometres day and night along with the miniscule amount of sleep. Even the sleep we did get was all too often interrupted for the duty of stag. Every Junior Leader was given a minimum of one lead as section commander and one 2IC and for the rest of the week we played the role of a hardworking subordinate. As a section commander we had to extract needed information from the squadron commander’s orders and create our own. With the aid of a model made by our 2IC we delivered the orders to our section consisting of a plan the team had to execute. Throughout the week we orchestrated section and sqn level ambushes, clearance patrols, recce patrols, fighting patrols and my personal favourite missions were taking two forward operating bases from the enemy. These squadron level operations were amazing, fighting in built up areas to take compounds and houses. The level of noise was huge with each section having different individual missions yet the command and control from the Sqn Cdr was inspiration. Being section commander you had ultimate responsibility for the welfare of your guys, and girls, but also the responsibility to fulfil the mission. Enthusiasm, command, control and instilling determination in your team were just 4 ways to do this.
I found section 2IC the hardest. Not only did you have to sort all your own admin out you had to sort everyone else’s out. That consisted of weapons cleaned, water bottles filled, webbing prepared, scoff eaten and cam cream applied. The phrase ‘if they still like you your not doing your job properly’ stuck with me and soon learnt the truth in it. Model making sounds fun in practice but when everyone else is all cosy sleeping in their bag and your out on the ground for an hour making a model using string, grass, labels and a junior leaders best friend; chalk, its a different story.
One thing that really did shine through was even though this was a leadership course I believe teamwork was the most important aspect of the week. We all had to work for each other. When someone was feeling down or wanting to give up it was up to us to pick them up as no doubt later in the week we would be the ones contemplating quitting. It’s surprising how much a crème egg can boost the morale.
For me fitness was the hardest aspect of junior leaders. Transferring from the RAF fitness test, which I passed on each occasion, to the applied fitness in the field was a shock to the system. Running with webbing, rifle, boots and even a helmet required a lot more training and running in my spare time but one the benefitted me greatly on test phase.
For me this course allowed me to test my leadership under immense pressure. Making decisions quickly and communicating QBOs or fire control orders was testing but beyond fun. Telling my body to carry on fighting even though my feet were throbbing and my legs about to collapse was a huge test of mental strength and I think coming out of this course I am a stronger person because of it.
Handing in that application in summer was the best decision so far in my life. I have an experience I will remember forever and friends for life. It sounds cheesy but it’s true!
Graduation Dinner & Awards
A three course meal featuring steak as its main course was bliss after a week of rat pack food!
The evening in the officer’s mess at RAF Honington was a real tribute and great ending to JL 15 and one I will remember forever.”