22 October 2016


With a permanent influx of new adult instructors, a number of which will have aspirations to go ahead and become an officer in the Army Cadet Force. The first step is to attend a Pre Cadet Forces Commissioning Board (CFCB). The Pre-CFCB is to give a potential Officer the skills and knowledge to assist them through their Commissioning Course at Westbury.


On the 7th October 2016 Oxfordshire Battalion lead the first joint Brigade Pre-CFCB. It was the idea of Oxfordshire Battalions Training Officer, Major Graham Cook and the Battalions Deputy Commandant, Lieutenant Colonel Alan Holder to hold a Brigade Central Course. Up until now each Battalion has held their own course once or twice a year. With the new scheme the Brigade is able to hold one course every other Month!



The Course began with 16 candidates arriving at Fort Blockhouse Gosport. With the “nitty gritty” administration out the way it was time for the Board President ‘Lieutenant Colonel Alan holder’ to give the introduction and brief on the weekend. With the candidates full of information and eager to get started the syndicates broke down and each person gave a short introduction into who they are and what they do. Once everyone was finally acquainted, it was heads down for bed.


With a 0700 wakeup call, breakfast was served at Fort Blockhouse Officer’s Mess. With stomachs full it was time to get on with the hardest part of the Weekend…. PLANEX! A PLANEX is a desktop planning exercise where students are given a complex problem to solve in a fairly short time frame. The students then go on to present their solution and to also come up with a group solution, before they are then given the DS solution. With nerves high each candidate gave their PLANEX to the group. The syndicate worked together to devise the solution which was then given to the DS and finally the DS gave their solution to the task in hand. With the day drawing to a close, the directing staff, Board Members, and Candidates were invited into the Officers Mess for a formal dinner. Candidates are welcomed into the Officer’s Mess at this time so they are able to familiarise themselves with the surroundings and etiquette of being in a mess as for many this will be their first time.


With the sun rising on the final day Command Tasks were up first. Command tasks are the best way to bring out true leadership in a person. It takes control, determination and forward thinking to get a team working well together, just want you need in an Officer! The last order of the day was an introduction into an Officers development in the ACF from Commission to Commandant we each have a role to play in planning and leading Cadets forward in their own progression!


A word from AUO Michelle Holgate (Oxfordshire ACF) “Although initially nervous I found it to be great preparatory experience. Doing all the tasks that are expected at Westbury meant that I feel well prepared to go there; it also helped to dispel all the myths around going and also what it takes to be an Officer! It was also wonderful to meet and share experiences with other Potential Officers/ Senior Officer from across the South of England, and to see old faces once again. I’d recommend it to anyone thinking of going to Westbury!


The Course was an overall success with lots of lessons learned. A massive thank you to the Board Staff (LT COL A HOLDER, LT COL P BROOME and MAJ G Cook) also to the 2 Syndicate Commanders (MAJ M Batin and MAJ N Baigent).