So, the past weekend has been Remembrance Sunday, and so far the past weeks, I have been working hard to get my section ready.
I'm a member of the OTC, that's a little like the ROTC in America, we're a TA (Territorial Army) unit specifically for students. Newly amalgamated into the NWOTR. We just train, not deploy, but OTCs represent about 1 in 10 applicants to Sandhurst, and 1 in 3 graduates. I joined in my first year of university, and I'm now a JUO (Junior Under Officer).
Before I get on to griping, there is good news. Due to taking a years leave last year for my industrial placement, I was the only person who'd passed both MOD1 and Mod2 (part of the commissioning course for the Territorial Army) who wasn't a JUO. I had the pay increase (based on passing exams), and I was given a command position (Section Commander), but I wasn't a JUO. I was the only one who wore a 3rd year rank slide. Fun for confusing pretty much everyone, but people being surprised by knowledge, assuming I was a 2nd year or having a 2IC who was a 'higher rank' (we all remain Ocdt's in the unit, the same rank as a student at Sandhurst, JUO and SUO are internal promotions) got very annoying.
So I finally got told to get my correct rank slide on for inspection parade
The Austrian Knot, or 'Swirl'.
So, I have a section of first years to get up to scratch for parade. None of them were really idiots, and so with a few extra lessons, my own section's only real failing was promptness, something we hate in the unit. But the worst offender was in a different section of my platoon. He came to my attention when I was Acting Platoon Sargent (advantages of having done first year with the SUO and some of the platoon commanders: more work), and he arrived 1 minute before parade, sidled into the front rank, and slouched in nothing resembling 'Stand Easy'. His Beret was unshaped, his uniform unironed (not a crease in it to be seen, just crumples). And his Boots! Unpolished! The trousers tucked into the Tops! He stood there, fidgeting at 'Attention' and I'm bloody glad there wasn't our regular platoon commander to see it, (I remember the dressing downs he could give when he was just a JUO). I kept him behind after the parade, and had some 'private words'. First time I've actually given someone a chewing out. His own section commander was actually shocked I could do so, as I'm usually reguarded as one of the units eccentrics (strange tattoos, odd hobbies, eating wild food in the field and knowing far too much odd knowledge). She did agree it was what he needed. It's been remarked to me from several people that he's been a 'Mong' since the selection weekend. However, I had end my talk with some words of encouragement, and I offered again after the days final parade that I could help him with his uniform. That's when he said:
'Oh, I know how to do it all'
Which really, are the wrong thing to say after his actions. His excuse for ot having done it if he knew how was even worse.
'I've not had time, I'm really busy on my Course'
'Economics.... It's reading intensive'
So, I let him go. He can swing on his own gallows.
The Next Week, he was given a dressing down by the Platoon Commander (a Student who has gotten their commission), after having shown up with the most marginal of efforts. Trousers still not bloused, beret still unshaped, boots unpolished, kit, crumpled, but with some marginally visible crease lines No tramlines, so It's a fair bet he only ironed it once.
It took the dressing down from the CSM (a Regular Army, experienced NCO, this is usually a cushy retirement posting) on saturday to convince him to ask for help, and I tried a different tack with him. I tried to convince him that I thought he could be a good Ocdt, told him how much I sucked in first year (Stories like how I ended up cleaning the barracks on me tod, or getting told by the CSM he'd drum me out of the unit.) I demonstrated on one half his kit, and had him copy untill the other half matched. It ended up taking over my dinner break, but there were Canapes and Free Gin and tonic at the compulsory cocktail party that night, so I did alright, getting advice from a visiting Colonel and chatting to my own Companies CO. And 'Mong' Had his kit ready enough to just scrap through inspection, and the promise he'd do more work on it tonight, and come in early in the morning.
So, I was in Barracks an hour before first parade, to assist with his kit. But, instead, he arrived with 15 minutes spare, and was only passable. Being available to teach him hand't worked, shoutings and dressing downs hadn't, and investing him with my trust hadn't. His Drill was appalling, but I stuck him in the centre rank, where he hopefully wouldn't be to obvious. He did fidget during the ceremony, but I was one row back, and could keep him from ruining it. With his general attitude and slackness, I think he's just waiting to get paid at Christmas, and then leave. Or maybe that's just wishful thinking. He's not long for this company I hope.
Of course, that wasn't the only fun in the Unit. It's technically possible to get a Commission in one year, if you devote every hour not actually in lectures, and pass every selection first time. One of the young officers did exactly that. Forming up before parade, the Officer Cadet made a wise crack to one of his (banters), and he'd not seen who, after enquiring who it was, he accused me, already knowing I was a bit on the slatendiculer. A good bit of Banter ensued, about The Core Value of Integrity, and Respect for Others. He demand I tell him who it was if not I, and I retort with uncertainty.
'Come on now Boarhunter, Remember your Core Values, Integrity' - Subbie
'In the Name of Integrity you want me to Rat out a Comrade'
This Banter continued, with the concluding line from me.
'Well sir, the thing for me to do with integrity and Respect for others, is to Lie and Say I said it'
'What's that?' - Subbie
'I'm Spartacus, Sir'.