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Saturday, November 1, 2014

British Soldiers

The British Military
Seeing the title of this blog you may wonder why exactly I’m writing about the British military since I’m an American.  To be honest, this all came down to a video game for me.  It’s a game called Company of Heroes.  It’s a fairly graphic World War II military simulation thing where you control squads of men as they run around killing each other.  So what does this have to do with the British military?  Ok, where to begin?

In this video game American soldiers run around and shoot at the enemy.  They can use grenades and mortars and all kinds of things.  There are also British units you can use, but they operate differently in the game.  I played a short tutorial mission with a British unit and found out that they perform better and get a few bonuses if you create a Leftenant (Lieutenant) and assign it to the British unit.  As a veteran myself, this insults me!  Yes I’m an American veteran, but British soldiers aren’t just a bunch of back alley morons who won’t do their duty unless someone is keeping a close eye on them!

I realize (Realise? English folks spell things differently sometimes. *chuckle*) that this is just a video game and the “lieutenant” is just a part of the gameplay element, but it still seemed a bit insulting to me.  I mentioned this to an English friend of mine and he suggested I write a blog about it.  So being the diligent lad I sometimes like to be (sometimes I honestly need a leftenant to be behind me making sure I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing, but aren’t we all like that sometimes?) I began to look into the real British military.  I wondered how it compared to the American military that I know.  Let’s take a look at what I found:

Boot camp.  What can you say about that?  To me those two words represent a huge amount of things.  British Army boot camp is 14 weeks long.  That’s if you’re going into a job other than infantry.  If you plan on being in the infantry and being an English infantry soldier your training will last 24 weeks.  That’s a good amount of time for training.  So what goes on in British Army boot camp?  Let’s take a look at the promotional video!

Let’s take a look at a US Army boot camp video.  Right away you’ll see quite a difference.

What the hell is with all of the loud music?  Is this boot camp or some rock and roll concert?  This video talks about the army’s “core values”.  It doesn’t tell you a whole lot of what kind of training you’ll get, it just says “you’ll do this” and “you’ll do that”.  There’s more to being a soldier than just firing a weapon.  Personally, the British military video looks better to me.  If you’re joining the American army for lots of excitement and loud music, you really don’t have your priorities straight.

Now before I continue, let’s take a look at Marines.  When we talk about training there will always be someone screaming about how US Marines are the best trained in the world.  The English have their Royal Marines.  Are they less well trained than the US guys?  I don’t think so.  But from what I’ve studied, US Marines and Royal Marines are two different animals, no pun intended.  Here is a Royal Marine video.  They go through 32 weeks of training and not everyone makes it through.

British Royal Marines go through 32 weeks of training.  Conversely US Marines go through a 12 week boot camp.  Are the English better trained?  Honestly, I don’t know, but 32 weeks is a long time!  Another difference is that in American boot camp, be it Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine, we’re always being yelled at.  There always seems to be some psychotic drill instructor, or training instructor, or whatever you want to call them screaming like a maniac.  The English don’t appear to yell as much.  In some training videos I watched you can tell that they don’t have to scream as much to get through to their soldiers.  Yelling isn’t always the best option.  In America, we’re used to yelling.  It’s common place to have some idiot yelling as loud as he can in your direction, so I guess that’s why we incorporate it into our military training.

Don’t think that because the English don’t yell and scream as much in their military training that they aren’t as well trained.  Screaming and yelling doesn’t necessarily make for the best training environment.  Yes, you have to learn to work under pressure if you’re going to be a soldier in a war zone, but screaming doesn’t have to represent pressure.  I saw one comment on the British military where a lad wasn’t happy because he didn’t have enough “free time”.  Sorry kiddo, when you’re military your life belongs to them.  They aren’t required to give you time off for some billiards and pints down at the local pub.  If you think joining the military is like getting any other job in the civilian world, you’re dead wrong!

 Anyway, getting back to the subject I was supposed to be writing about in the first place, I was looking into the British Army.  (Or I was writing about some video game or something? I don’t remember.)  Going to the British Army web site, you can see some of the jobs you can get when you join up.  One of the career fields in the British Army that drew quite a bit of interest from me was the Intelligence Corp.  While in the US Air Force I was a Communications Analyst.  My job was pretty much an office job.  At the end of my fabulous 4 year military career I was stationed at Kelly Air Force Base in Texas and was in a “mobile unit”.  I never actually went mobile, and most of my time was still spent in an office.  Considering I was also Air force, my job would differ a bit from an army job.  Anyway, a British Army Intelligence Analyst does way more than I was ever trained to do!

Starting out, British Intelligence Corp folks go through 2 years of training.  Yes, I said two years.  They are taught another language and are in part not only analysts, but also translators.  They’re also kept up on how to be regular soldiers.  That’s a lot of training for these young boys and girls!  If you want a nice white collar job with computers and communications though, I don’t think there’s a better career path than being in the British Intelligence Corp.  And since you get so much training, you might even think about staying in the military until you retire.  But after all your training and your four year enlistment let me tell you there’s no better feeling than applying for some position at a company and being able to say, “Yes, I was in the military and served in the Signal Corp.”  (Trust me, don’t tell civilians you dealt with “intelligence”, it just draws too many questions.  *chuckle*)  Take a look at this:

Have I promoted the British military enough yet?  *chuckle*  And all of this came out of a video game.  So I guess to end this long, ranting blog I’ll just say that I really don’t think British soldiers need a leftenant to keep them in line.  Company of Heroes is still a really fun game, don’t get me wrong.  I just disagree with how they presented the English soldiers.  And of course before I go I’ll show a bit of Company of Heroes.  Here’s the tutorial for playing the British Army.  I have nothing against real life British Lieutenants (Leftentants?), but I do think a British unit should be able to work just as well without one.  Enjoy this video, but beware; parts can be a bit graphic when fighting is shown.  After all, it’s World War II.

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