Pre-Potential Non-Commissioned Officers Course
To the relief of many, Monday morning saw no rain outside the block when we rose. We signed out our weapons from the armoury, and were able to get reasonably comfortable as we journeyed via bus to STANTA.
Waking up and getting off the bus left us nervous about what was to come, but luckily the insertion TAB was not too far. Once we had established our harbour area, the fun began!
The main goal of a Pre-Potential Non- Commissioned Officers Course (Pre-PNCO Cse) is to prepare soldiers for a PNCO Cse; a course every soldier needs to pass to become eligible for promotion to Lance Corporal. This meant that everyone on the course needed to prepare and deliver lessons, as well as refresh their infantry skills. This was aided by our two Section Commanders, Cpl Cox and LCpl West, giving us numerous lessons and guidance. This then gave us the practical knowledge to carry out section attacks and patrols, as well as enabling us to step up to act as a Section Second in Command (2IC) and Section Commander.
The first day was mainly filled with lessons and adjusting to the back crippling body armour we had to wear. This became less evident as we brewed up and had flasks full of hot chocolate (thank god for Jet-boils). On the second day we were issued with radios; two radios per six man section. The Troop had revised how to use the equipment prior to being deployed on the exercise, though these lessons did not include learning how much you sweat carrying the radios, especially during a section attack! In the evening we carried out a night navigation exercise, where SSgt Dicken taught and refreshed the Troop on the best way to navigate at night, even teaching us how to use the stars to locate the direction of north. This was a valuable and interesting lesson, and his enthusiasm made the lesson different from the usual dull classroom lessons on navigation – no offence intended to those who have to deliver dull classroom lessons on navigation! It was also safe to say that the lesson was absorbed by most, as there were no embarrassing stories of anyone getting lost (unfortunately).
Wednesday came with more lessons, followed by section level patrols and section attacks. The whole Troop did well, and our section attacks and infantry skills certainly improved as the day went on. By 1630 the sky was dark, brews had been made and we were ready to participate in a close target reconnaissance mission. This provided us with intelligence on the enemy for the following day’s activities.
The following day we set an ambush for the enemy. Lt Mistry gave orders and showed the Troop how the process works, and what would be expected on the PNCO course. Once this was complete we occupied the ambush site. The enemy drove straight into our trap and all hell broke loose; it’s a good feeling when you are lying in the prone position, with your SA80 set to automatic, and the Troop Commander gives you the signal to open fire on the enemy.
The final day saw an early start, and within fifteen minutes of waking up we were ready to move to the final troop level attack. After the TAB in, we were in a field with derelict tanks scattered about, where we then proceeded to find, fix and destroy the enemy. The atmosphere was great and after all four positions were destroyed, we had a much needed hot breakfast and promptly all fell asleep on the bus back to Wyton.