Thursday, September 10, 2020

20 Life Lessons I Learned from the Army, on my 20th Anniversary


The 20 Year Anniversary 

11th September 2000 was the day 50 odd kids from across the United Kingdom joined Her Majesty's Army.  I had just turned 16 three weeks before and I was overweight, naive and didn't have a fucking clue what I was in for.

I remember the defining reason I decided to join in the end, was because on weekend selection course, one of the training staff came in to the room ripped-as-fuck and I was like "I want that!".  Yup, as innocent as that.

If I could live my life again, it would be back in those first 28 weeks of basic training. It was probably the best time of my life (so far), not because it was easy by any means-it was fucking hard, but, it was just so simple.

  • Do as your told, on time
  • Look clean and pressed (ironed) in what we give you to wear
  • Run over there - do press up here
  • Go to bed when we say 
  • Get up when you're told  
  • Easy (shit) money 
  • Free food and free accommodation

I was in intake 00C ('C' being 'Charlie'), Carlisle Company, Blenheim Platoon.  This was the first time I'd been exposed to other people from other parts of the country.  I could barely understand what the 'northerners' were saying and the 'jocks', I didn't stand a chance.  I was the only South-East boy in the platoon, so used to get taken the piss out of for my 'Eastenders accent'. 

Just before 'passing out', after 28 weeks of basic training

For various reasons I decided to leave after six years, (I'll put it down to immaturity).  In my last two years, I thought at the time it was a load of shit, but looking back,  I had an awesome crack, with some fantastic blokes and I even learned a few things.

Being all nostalgic and that now, I thought I'd give you my top 20 lessons I learned, to mark the 20th anniversary of me signing on the dotted line and becoming a soldier of the British Army...

20 lessons I learned for life from the Army

1.  'Can't means won't, won't mean headlock'

I now associate the word 'can't' as an excuse and hate being told something 'can't' be done.  Find a way - there are always more options than obstacles.  

2.  'Sight alignment and sight picture must be correct'

This comes from the 'marksmanship principles' for shooting a target.  This now reminds me of goal setting and how your 'why' behind achieving your goals need to be align with your values and the outcome you want to achieve.  If you want a six pack for instance, getting pissed every night doesn't align with your goal.

3.   5 minutes before the 5 minutes

Always be 5 minutes early, so there be 5 minutes before the already expected 5 minutes before, or you'll be late.  Get that?

4.  Block out the screaming

When someone is literally forehead-to-forehead screaming in your face what a cunt you are and you can't do anything about but stand still, it gives you discipline to cut out the noise and compose yourself.  In the real world, don't worry about what other people are 'screaming', keep calm and control your emotions.

5.  'Pockets today, pouches tomorrow' 

Meaning, if you neglect to do up your buttons on your uniform in camp, it'll set bad habits to do up your ammo pouches.  If you're running and rolling around when shit goes south and everything falls out of your pouches in battle, you are fucked.  Keep on top of the basics.

6.  'Don't be a Jack Cunt'  

Coming from 'jack the lad', ie don't be a dick, share and work as a team.

7.  Beer equals entertainment  

Drinking alcohol with anyone, for me is the best time to bond.  It's when everyone is loose and reveals their true self.  I'll always go for a drink to meet new people and get know people I work with.

8.  'On the bus, off the bus'  

Basically, it hasn't happened until it's happened.  We'd literally get on a bus to move, to only to get told to get off again minutes later.   Do not take it for granted that you've done 'that' deal until you physically have the money, or the signature.

9.  Hurry up and wait

This is a sarcastic quip about how everything is urgent, but actually it's not.  Don't sweat the small stuff.

10.  A good soldier sleeps when he can

Because you never know when you're next going to be able to.  A great example of this is the recent lockdown.  You can't do much about it, so take advantage of the downtime and develop yourself, rest when you can.

11.  'Snakes with tits' 


12. 'Beg-steel-borrow, adapt and overcome'

Do whatever it takes to do the job and use all the resources you have.

13.  'Righty tighty, lefty loosey'  

How to tighten/loosen bolts and screws.  I don't know, it just always stuck with me.

Best man a my pals 'Bungle's' wedding 

14.  'The first port of call is the section commander'

I had to crawl on my belt buckle in the mud, shouting out "the first port of call is the section commander", for an hour while all my buddies watched.  I fucked up because I went straight to the boss to ask a trivial question.  The chain of command is there for a reason!

15.  Don't ask 'bone' questions  

Don't be the dickhead that asks for an obvious answer to a question (especially when everyone is wanting to get home, you know, 'that' guy).  Shut up and think first!

Afghanistan 2005/06


Our training instructor used to scream this at us (with good reason).  If you don't want to be an easy target- keep moving.   I apply this to business and personal growth, always keep moving and unpredictable-never stay static.   

17.  "Sympathy is between shit and syphilis in the dictionary" 

Only the closest-of-close people care about your problems, no one else gives a shit.  Everyone's got stuff to be cracking on with.  Sorry but true.

18. 'Get amongst it'

 Just get it done and sharpish!  What are you waiting for?

19.  No matter how shit it gets, have a laugh

When I got sent to Iraq, our location was hit with a missile.  By the time I got to cover, there was literally no space in the bunker.  Me and another lad had to sit under the angled side of a skip, one meter outside of the bunker and wait for the next missile to hit.  We were just amused at the situation and couldn't stop laughing, that we going to potentially going to die under an empty skip.

20.  You will get better with age 

Nuff said.

Getting ready for a room inspection-what a mean warrior!

I'd like to give a massive shout out to all the boys I joined up with, a few of them (you) are still in and grafting.  Hang in there fellas, it's only two more years until your pension. 

I'd also like to pay my respect to boys and girls that I served with and those I haven't, that have made the ultimate sacrifice for Queen & Country. 

Keep it real folks and Arte et Marte, super REME.

Snowbitch out

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