A career as an Army soldier
Brent has been an infantry soldier for the past three years – joining the local regiment from school.
How did you decide which unit to join?
I joined 2LI (2nd Battalion, Light Infantry) as it's a local regiment – other soldiers come from Yorkshire like me. Signing up locally makes it easier and helps you make friends initially as most people come from the same area.
What have you been doing recently?
I've just returned from Cyprus where we helped to protect military installations. We were on patrol in a Land Rover with bars over the windows for extra protection. There were four of us in a vehicle, with a lance corporal or corporal in charge and a signaller so we could keep in touch with others and respond to orders. We had shields and body armour to wear and we carried SA80 light support weapons and baton guns.
What do you do when you're not out on patrol?
We work a month-by-month rotation system. When we're on our month's standby, we get up-to-date with our training in public order control and weapons, as well as basic military skills like drill, first aid and signals. We have to make sure all our vehicles and equipment are well maintained too.
Has the army lived up to your expectations?
Yes – I always wanted to join the Army. When you live and work together you make very close friends. But it's more than that – our lives may depend on one another.
What about any downsides?
Army life has its ups and downs and I miss my family. In Cyprus we got leave every three months. Sometimes I get really tired and need a break. It can be hard when we're on exercise and don't get enough sleep. But I think you get out of it as much as you put in. The opportunities and rewards are there.
Don't you have to be super-fit?
You need a good level of fitness which the Army helps to develop and maintain. I play football for the Battalion, so I train twice a week. There are almost endless opportunities for different sports. If you are good at something the Army will encourage you and pay for the training. There are courses available in any sport and adventure training, too.
What are your prospects for the future?
My next step is to be lance corporal. It's a question of when I feel ready and when my platoon commander and sergeant major think I'm ready. Of course, promotion means more pay!
Brent's Soldier tips
- Try to join a local regiment – you will find common ground with the other soldiers.
- There are plenty of opportunities – be aware of them.
Becoming a Soldier
- After basic training, infantry soldiers undertake specialist infantry training at Catterick. Additional military skills are taught and fitness is developed even further.
- Completion of the course includes a NVQ Level 1 qualification and allows you to take your place in a battalion on operations.
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