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    Rachel Huber

    Bram Connolly

    Regardless of who you are or where you come from, the journey towards becoming an Australian soldier begins in the same manner for everyone.

    From all over Australia, from different walks of life, prospective Recruits are drawn to the main staging points of Sydney or Melbourne, from where they are then transported by bus to Wagga Wagga, where the 1st Recruit Training Battalion (1 RTB) is located.

    From the moment you first interact with uniformed defence force staff, you are being monitored. A Recruit Instructor (RI) is dispatched to both Sydney and Melbourne to act as an escort in the accompaniment of each intake of recruits. The instructors sent on escort duties will not be part of your own platoon, however you can be certain that they are actively watching everything you do, listening to everything you say, and will be informally reporting back their observations to the instructors awaiting at 1 RTB who will take the lead on training your platoon. It is within the best interests of all trainees to conduct themselves in an appropriate, respectful manner, from the moment they turn up at Defence Force Recruiting.

    After a few hours of nervous and excited chatter down the highway, the buses will take you in through the front gates of Blamey Barracks – the Home of the Soldier. Generations of soldiers have passed through these same gates over the years, entering first as raw recruits, and leaving upon achieving the endstate of becoming one of Australia’s newest soldiers.

    As you are driven towards the drop-off point at 1 RTB, you will notice pillars by the roadside which read – COURAGE, INITIATIVE, RESPECT and TEAMWORK.These four simple words, form the underpinning organisational values of the Australian Army.

    Finally, the buses will stop just outside the Boughton Centre, the induction building which you will be directed inside to once you have alighted from the bus with your personal belongings. It is here that you will meet the Recruit Instructors of your respective Platoon for the first time. Each recruit training platoon is structured the exact same way – it will have a Platoon Commander (Lieutenant, a commissioned officer – “Sir” / “Ma’am”); a Platoon Sergeant (Sergeant, a Senior Non-Commissioned Officer – “Sergeant”), and up to four Section Commanders (Corporal / Bombardier, a Junior Non-Commissioned Officer – “Corporal” / “Bombardier”).

    Within the induction building, each recruit intake will be broken down into Platoons and the smaller sections which make up each Platoon. The surname of each individual will be called out, and you will be introduced to and allocated a Section Commander to follow. The most influential member of staff throughout your time in recruit training will be your own Section Commander. Under the guidance of your Section Commander, you will be lead to your barracks accommodation as part of a newly formed section, there can be up to sixteen trainees per section. These are the people you will be relying upon the most throughout your time spent in recruit training. Your Section Commander will briefly orientate your section to the surrounds of what will become your home whilst in training, and from here, your training begins.

    There are five recruit training companies – Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta and Echo. Every week, all year round, there are recruit training platoons marching in and marching out of each Company.

    For full-time soldiers, there is a graduated tab identification system, which denotes differing stages of training that each recruit is at, and what requisite skills and knowledge they are expected to have for each stage. The first is Red Tabs, followed by Blue Tabs, and finally, Gold Tabs. Each tab also has certain priviledges linked to it which must be earnt – at any time priviledges can be taken away by staff for poor behaviour or performance. You will learn throughout recruit training that individual wants and desires are subservient to those of the team. Training is about 100% commitment to everything that you do, putting others before yourself, and assisting those who may be experiencing difficulty to overcome personal challenges. The team is stronger than the individual. Therefore it stands to reason that the faults of one person can also be inextricably linked to those of the team – on the battlefield, regardless of race, gender, sexuality, religious belief, or any other characteristic which otherwise defines personal differences, you could very well find that your life depends on those around you. Your team. The military will teach you that success and defeat are linked to the team, all working towards one purpose, and in any case – bullets do not discriminate.

    There is a lot to learn during recruit training. Over the first few weeks, you will be given introductory lessons which will help prepare you for the rigours of training which lay ahead of you. Within the first few days you will be issued uniforms, shown how to march, how to maintain and clean a barracks block, and begin to learn to work as part of a team to achieve directed tasks within allocated timeframes. You will receive lessons on service discipline, after which you will then be subject to military law. Days will seem like a blur, and you will have very limited capacity to communicate outside of training with family and friends.

    Things can seem a little overwhelming at first, however perseverance is the key. It helps to remember that every single Australian soldier has begun their journey the exact same way. Even your instructors – you can not be a Recruit Instructor unless you have been a recruit yourself and dedicated the years of your life which follow to training. You will never be asked to do anything that is not unachievable – what would be the point of that? Since federation, Australian soldiers have earnt a formidable reputation throughout the world as soldiers, and this is the legacy you will carry forward upon marching out as an Australian soldier.

    You will receive a mix of both formal and informal styles of instruction and lesson delivery, covering a wide array of subjects. Some of these include ceremonial drill, small arms operation and maintenance, applied marksmanship, night fighting equipment and living in the field in austere conditions. You will partake in physical training sessions to build your physical resilience, and learn about the history, ethos, customs and traditions of the Australian Army. Training starts at the most basic level where nothing is assumed, gradually building in intensity and expectation as recruits progress throughout the course. You will receive weekly counselling by your section commanders, who will assist you throughout all aspects of training provided you are able to demonstrate desirable soldierly qualities – physical and moral courage, determination, integrity, loyalty, selflessness, physical and mental resilience, initiative, respect and teamwork. You will have an expectation placed on you that you give nothing short of your best effort at all times, in everything that you do, and are beyond approach in upholding good soldiering qualities.

    With the right mindset, attitude, and motivation to succeed as a potential Australian soldier, you will march-out at the end of your training as one of Australia’s newest soldiers before progressing to Initial Employment Training (IET). Dedicated application of effort and personal qualities are the most important aspect of military training in terms of what is demanded of you – skill and knowledge is trainable, coupled with experience.

    Of the few things that can be guaranteed in life, there is no greater honour, no greater priviledge, and you will not make any greater mates for life than what you will as an Australian soldier in the Australian Army.

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