Every recruit in the Reserve Forces goes through basic recruit training. The only exceptions to this rule are soldiers, sailors or airmen with previous military experience. During this stage you will learn basic soldiering skills on training weekends, midweek drill nights and finally a two week course. This is normally run by the regular army at a Recruit Training Centre for the TA, but is run within the unit for the Royal Auxiliary Air Force. You will learn about such things as, tactics, physical fitness, fieldcraft, First Aid, weapon handling and map reading.
Once you have completed your basic training you will then start your trade training, say as a driver, radio operator, electrician or mortar operator. A mix of classroom and hands-on training will have you performing your specific tasks effectively, efficiently and professionally within a year. The test of your new skills comes when you go out on exercise and contribute to your unit's success or are mobilised to serve alongside your regular counterparts.
A unit is built up of many teams. After a year or so, you may be chosen to lead a small group, and you will be invited to attend additional training to develop your personal skills and prepare you for the additional responsibilities of promotion.
Whatever your background, if you have the aptitude, you could be selected for officer training. The Queen's Commission rightly commands respect, as those who hold it have passed a rigorous selection programme. Initially your unit will select you for officer training which will lead to attendance at a Territorial Commissions Board (TCB) or the Officer and Aircrew Selection Centre (OASC). There you will be assessed through a series of mental and physical tasks and if successful you will receive further leadership and development training. You will be given every possible opportunity to develop your analytical, management and leadership skills, before attending the commissioning course at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst or at the Royal Air Force College Cranwell. If successful, you will be granted a probationary commission as a Second Lieutenant or Pilot Officer. If you have previous military experience with the Regular or Reserves Forces, including the Officer Training Corps or the University Air Squadrons, you may be eligible for a Direct Commission.
MobilisationOnce you have been trained as a soldier, sailor, airman or officer you may be mobilised for operations. This gives Reservists an opportunity to put their skills into practice alongside their regular counterparts, often in testing conditions. Generally, a tour lasts for six months with about two months of intensive training prior to deployment, and a further month of post tour leave and acclimatisation back to the civilian world at the end. Over twelve thousand reservists have seen service in Iraq in the past three years, and for the majority it has been a very positive experience.
Training for civilian life
Many of the courses you attend will give you vocational qualifications which could be relevant to your civilian career, for example City and Guilds Hazmat certificate, Food Handlers certificate. A category C+E driving licence is an essential part of many trades - another useful qualification to pick up along the way.
The Reserve Forces place great emphasis on training, and all those who are already qualified are expected to teach the next generation of recruits. You will be taught how to instruct others, and this not only develops your self confidence, but is also a very rewarding activity.
Making the most of yourself
Every unit can tell you a story of someone who gained a military qualification that gave him or her the skills and the confidence to change their civilian employment for the better. Whatever your rank or status, in the Reserve Forces the practical skills and leadership training you receive will encourage you to try for the next step and to realise your true potential.
Basic Rates of Pay
When you are on duty as a volunteer with the Reserve Forces you receive the same basic rates of pay as your Regular counterpart. You may also be entitled to travelling expenses. You receive:
· A quarter day's pay for attending duties of two to four hours duration.
· A half day's pay for duties of four to eight hours duration.
· A whole day's pay for duties of eight hours duration or longer.
Pay is subject to tax and the deduction of National Insurance contributions, which under certain circumstances, may be reclaimed. Pay varies according to rank, trade and type of commitment.
In addition, you can receive a tax free bonus, known as a bounty. The bounty varies depending on your unit and commitment. In order to earn your bounty you have to attend a minimum amount of training, including your two week annual camp, and have passed certain basic military tests.
Juggling a civilian career, home life and the Reserve Forces can be difficult at times. But those who belong to the TA, RNR or RAuxAF get a lot of enjoyment out of what they do. There are many reasons given for joining, but if you ask members why they stay, most will tell you that it is because of the camaraderie and the sense of achievement. The lifestyle is a great part of what being in the Reserve Forces is all about.