Junior soldiers march towards a new military career

More than 650 junior soldiers have marched their way towards a new military career, following graduation from the Army Foundation College’s flagship training initiative for 16 – 17 year olds.

The Harrogate-based College currently runs two courses of varying length, both of which specialise in the training of junior soldiers.

Those attending the 42-week course will now advance to the second phase of their training in the Infantry, Royal Artillery, Royal Armoured Corps and Royal Logistic Corps.

A shorter 22-week course has seen students progress to a more specialist phase of training. This might see them become a Vehicle Mechanic with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers or a Communications Systems Operator at the Royal Signals.

Both courses combine basic military and vocational training. It’s a great opportunity for the junior soldiers. Some have completed a City and Guilds apprenticeship for Information Technology, while others have attained a Duke of Edinburgh award.

Lieutenant Colonel William Strickland, the College’s Commanding Officer, said: “Eleven months ago the men and women of Alamein, Burma and Peninsula Companies embarked upon this journey and they were joined six months ago by Cambrai Company.

“It has been long and hard, and sometimes emotional. I congratulate all of the Junior Soldiers and their instructors on a job very well done. The majority proved equal to the test, and they are the future of the British Army. We are proud of their achievements and we are looking forward to their bright futures.”

A graduation parade, held at Uniacke Barracks, marked the finale and thousands of friends and relatives looked on as the Junior Soldiers made their way through the square.

Lieutenant General James Bashall, the Inspecting Officer, scrutinised the Junior Soldiers, presented prizes and took the salute as the military parade marched past the dais. He said: “It is a great privilege to be invited to take the Salute at Army Foundation College in Harrogate and to be able to congratulate over 650 newly trained Soldiers on their transition to the British Army. Joining the British Army is a huge decision in an individual’s life, especially for those who are as young as 16 when they decide to join, and it takes dedication, commitment and effort to be successful enough to reach the end of Phase I training. The journey in the British Army has now begun and I wish them all every success in the future careers which lie ahead of them.”

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