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Platoon Tactics Course (PTC)

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This is a teaching course. The days of pointless beastings are over. That said, it is also not physically easy. This is a three tier course and you will be grouped into sections with officers, seniors and juniors. In the field you will be in command appointment appropriate to your tier, or a rifleman.

Preparation

You need to arrive fit. Infantry fit. 5k and 10k runs at good speed will improve your cardio. Don't forget tabbing, but don't overdo it either. You need to be used to cutting around with at least 25kg on your back, but there's no point in injuring yourself either! Here is the proposed fitness training plan from the JIs. It mentions running with a rifle, obviously just speak to your PSI and he will just dish one out whenever you fancy.

Week Day Exercise Dress/Kit/Remarks
1 Mon PFT The programme to be interspersed with exercises designed to develop good upper body strength.
Tue 30 mins run/walk
Wed TA CFT Keep this as close to the actual CFT as possible. Get a PTI if you are so inclined.
Thu-Sat 30 mins daily, running and walking Combat kit, skeleton order with helmet and rifle.
2 All 30 mins daily, running and walking Combat kit, skeleton order with helmet and rifle.
3 All 30 mins daily, running short sprints including uphill work over rough ground As for Week 2, but with 25kg
4 Mon-Wed As Week 3 As Week 3
Thu PFT

You need to know your way round the orders and estimate process appropriate to your level (for seniors this means the full orders), and how to explain your way through the thinking process. (Possible females in compound. - SO WHAT? - Need female searchers. - SO WHAT? - Liase with RMP c/s.) You don't need to be a ninja, but you need to be at the level you were at when leaving Sandhurst. Seniors are recommended to get some tuition time under their belt before turning up as it may be a bit of a culture shock.

Navigation/Command and Control/Other platoon commander stuff: If you don't know how to do this already, don't go to Brecon.

Kit

By and large the DS don't seem to get a massive sad-on about any particular bits of kit. (Apart from trops, but you're not in the jungle, so don't wear them!)

You get a locker, a cage, a soldier box and a bedside cabinet. That's why the JIs say 4 padlocks.

You need 2 black water bottles with you, as they will be checked.

50m green string / 100m paracord. Pointless figures. Take some, but don't go mental.

Take a laminator! You will be given a massive wedge of paper when you rock up and will need it all fablonned. Take enough fablon for 2 maps as well. You will be issued maps of Sennybridge and Caerwent.

Mess tins / hexy. As long as you can get warm scoff and brews the DS don't care.

Stuff you will probably need to sign out and take with you:

  • TAM
  • Silva compass
  • Rifle sling
  • Rifle cleaning kit
  • Zinc oxide tape if you can get it
  • A sense of humour (the stores in Brecon are always out)

Conduct of the course

My memory is shite, so maybe someone else can put days and timings in amongst this.

Rock up Fri/Sat (if you arrive Fri make sure you phone ahead as some guys ended up kipping in corridors and cars as there weren't enough bunks to go around). CFT on the Sat and it's a cheeky one. Get your phys sorted and save yourself the embarrassment of getting RTU'd on day one. You have a written test that evening. (Different ones for officers/seniors/juniors) If you know your Pams/TAMs/Mnemonics inside out you will be fine.

You then spend the first week largely in camp. There are classroom lectures, sometimes as a course; sometimes as respective tiers. For officers and seniors you will have TEWTs which range from sitting on a hillside overlooking the ground and talking through each part of the estimate and orders process to the whole course walking through a DS led Advance To Contact and an explanation of each level's considerations at that point in time, and how they can best anticipate higher's next move. The most useful are the ones where you are given time in the classroom with maps and airphots to come up with the “perfect” plan, and then taken out to the ground and in slow time/non-tac recce your routes in/FRV/FUP/FSp locations and then decide for yourself whether it was a good plan. (It generally wasn't.)

Juniors and seniors are either with the officers or … (I heard they had a bouncy castle.)

Near the end of the first week you go for a stroll starting at one side of the Pen y Fan and ending on the other. In the words of the OC: “It's not a bad little walk, there's just a bloody great hill in the way.” If you can't manage it, have you considered the REME?

The second week is in the field, with over nights sent in FOBs/PBs. You will spend most of your time as a rifleman, and probably love it. Stand by to carry lots kit and tab wearing body armour and helmet. There is a lot of emphasis on operations in a Contemporary Operating Environment i.e. Afghan/FIBUA. You will be wearing Osprey for this. Stuff your command kit down behind the front plate and don't waste your money on an admin pouch. (There is no IED threat here and you will be issued an MTP admin pouch on ops.) The exercise culminates in a pretty awesome night attack with live overhead from the Gurkha GPMGs.

You get back late Thurs night/Fri morning and Friday is admin, speeches and debriefs etc.

Dismissal

We were away by 0800 Saturday morning.

Top tips

  • If you are a betty, buy/steal an UBACs; it makes Osprey just a little bit more comfortable.
  • If you can can't pass the course, don't try again. Just join the REME and save everyone a lot of hassle.
  • Make sure you look ally. The DS love it!

As always, this is the internet so heed your CoC and take this with a pinch of salt.