With face to face activity now possible, the need to ensure our adult instructors are trained, up-to-date and ready to support and inspire their cadets in person is essential.
A series of training days have been established to provide training and refresher courses to many of our CFAVs. These weekends have taken place at Bassingbourn Barracks and have been made possible by the dedicated planning of County Training Officer Major Morris and the invaluable support of SSgt Dan Marsden, the Quartermaster Sergeant of the Mission Ready Training Centre at Bassingbourn. SSgt Marsden’s support, with the blessing of the Centre’s training team, has allowed us access to superb facilities at the site, including well equipped briefing rooms and classrooms, cook house, parade ground, ranges and an exceptional training area. This is all the more important due to the loss of our own training ground at Waterbeach. These impressive facilities have potential to support tight groups of CFAV training in the future.
SSgt Marsden of the Mission Ready Training Centre briefs the CFAVs. SSgt Marsden's support made the weekend possible. (Picture; Doug Stuart)
On Sunday 18th April, Training Safety Advisor WO2 Lunan re-qualified key Exercise Conducting Officers which was necessary to allow further activities to take place and the adults also undertook the Adult Radio User course. The second weekend took place on 24th-25th April with the third to take place on 8-9th May.
Ex army officer PI Adrian Sharman instructs in the use of the L98 A2 rifle. (picture; Doug Stuart)
All training was conducted in a Covid-secure manner, CFAVs were split into training bubbles, many events took place outside with social distancing, and indoors events were socially distanced with the CFAVs wearing masks as required.
Returning to training after such a long absence was widely welcomed. SSI Phil Swadling said: ‘It was evident after the first 5 mins that we hadn’t forgotten each other - and the banter was back! Light-hearted joking and laughing about our uniforms not fitting etc, like the first day back at school!’
PI Emily White takes part in a blank firing exercise on an outdoor range. (picture; Doug Stuart)
Over the course of the weekend there was a range of superbly organised and professionally run activities and training sessions for all adults; from the brand-new Probationary Instructors (PIs) to the senior instructors including Company Sergeant Majors and above. These activities included ensuring adults could use the PRC 343 and PRC 710 radios correctly and also bringing all staff up to date with Weapons Handling Tests (WHTs).
SSI Bullman gives instruction in archery. (picture Rylan Ray)
Further re-qualifications courses were run in archery on the training ground. There was also the opportunity to train with the Dismounted Close Combat Trainer (DCCT) a computer simulated firing range which was run by SSgt Marsden.
The DCCT computer simulated firing range. (Picture; Dan Marsden)
The new PIs had a range of backgrounds from experienced military personnel to those with no military experience at all. With the assistance of the more experienced members, all learned or re-qualified in Radio, WHTs, used the DCCT, learned to strip the L98 A2 rifle and took part in a navigation exercise. Further training was conducted on the outdoor range where PIs and more senior colleagues took part in blank firing exercises to practise the skills and drills for fire and movement in pairs. This activity was led by the highly professional RSMI Russ Power. On Sunday afternoon the Commandant visited to award promotions and address his CFAVs.
SI Andy Litt takes a bearing during a navigation exercise. (picture; Dale Irving)
SSI Rylan Ray said: ‘The weekend was a perfect way to safely get the adults back together and ‘in date’ so we can deliver a great experience for the cadets. We were lucky to be able to use the incredible facilities at Bassingbourn Barracks which allowed us to do all of our training whilst adhering to COVID restrictions due to the additional space available.’
PI Dave Britchford, Lt Richard Nicholson and SSI Adrian Johnson after taking part in fire and movement drills. (pictures; Doug Stuart)
Text by PI Doug Stuart with thanks to SSI Phil Swadling and SSI Rylan Ray