I am Sergeant Jonathan ‘Griff’ Griffiths, I have been in the REME for 14 years, during which I have been an Armourer and Metalsmith, completing two basic courses and two class one courses. I am currently training to become an Artificer.
The British military has an abundance of tough courses to attend. The REME Artificers course is definitely one and the selection process is extremely hard. The key difference between this and most other courses is that the course is not physically challenging. There is only one organised PT session a week (annoyingly). No-one chases or checks that you are attending it, or that you are completing your own physical training programme – and rightly so, with me being a senior non-commissioned officer.
You must maintain your level of physical ability and demonstrate that you can pass the military fitness tests to scroll (complete the course). In fact it could be said that the course provides the perfect environment to become physically lazy.
The arduous side of the course presents itself in a mental format. For 40 weeks of the 68 week long course, and for 36.5 hours per week (exclusive of meal times and breaks), the student is in the classroom sat behind a desk learning from a mixture of whiteboard calculations and PowerPoint presentations. Mingled in with this intense tuition is a variety of exams and written assignments that must be completed to progress further on the course. The majority of these come with deadlines that can be pretty gruelling or tight revision schedules that are barely achievable, not to mention platoon duties that must be carried out.
It is so easy to see how physical training can fall down the priority list, amongst all we have to juggle. The trick, I have found, is keeping it on the list of priorities to complete, treating it as a deadline to complete PT sessions in your own time each week. If you’re not naturally fit, it is an extra hurdle to overcome.
My brief description of life in the Engineering and Science Department (ESD) just does not accurately describe daily life. Planning a routine is so difficult and often futile as so many disruptions occur, and simply have to be addressed during the working week. The whole package of the course is what makes it so mentally challenging and draining.
The will to carry on is strengthened if you possess a clear, defined personal goal to achieve at the end of the course. You don’t put yourself through it for no reason, and you will need one to remain motivated. With changes to pensions on the way, money for future generations of ‘wannabe Artificers’ will cease to be a motivating factor; you will have to find another.
Good to go
On the 12th of May, our 17-strong team from 10 Training Battalion REME, called ‘GOOD TO GO’, took part in the tough mudder event held in Kettering, Northamptonshire. Tough mudder is a physically demanding event that challenges all who participate. Even though the concept has just arrived in the United Kingdom from the United States of America, it was designed by ex-British Special Forces members. The course consisted of 23 obstacles spread over a 12 mile cross country course.
Dyno Rod, Mudder Samaritan Award
The obstacles varied in difficulty, but in general they were pretty extreme, ranging from high cargo nets to electric shock obstacles; my personal favourite was the ice dip. If the severity of the obstacles wasn’t enough, the running route in between each of them was, at times, beyond painful. Our team performed with excellence, finishing together and winning the ‘Dyno Rod, Mudder Samaritan Award’. Which, translated into military language, we think means best team work.
An all round good time was had by all. Tough mudder is a diverse event, in the fact that if you want to challenge yourself physically and mentally, you can, although it has to be said that I felt the true challenge presented by tough mudder is testing team cohesion. For this, I struggle to think of anything more effective. Why does the British military not have one of these courses?