When planning a squadron combat exercise, I was inspired by a program on TV called SAS: Who Dares Wins, a show which aims to put 25 civilians through a gruelling training regime over 2 weeks that closely resembles the selection process used by the SAS.
Additionally, the show highlighted the recent legal changes to the armed forces that allow females into the Special Forces, showing how far equality has come in the military. This is especially encouraging to women in the forces, as well as our female cadets. In fact, one of the winners of the show was a Lou, a female surgeon aged 40!
Within the air cadets we are always striving to prepare ourselves for the demands of being part of the RAF, but also to teach ourselves skills that can be applicable in real-life situations, such as first aid or survival techniques. My combat exercise night, nicknamed ‘2473: Who Dares Wins’, was influenced by all of these things and became a really enjoyable experience for those involved.
The cadets were told that they were stranded, their crew members injured and equipment lost. Their aim was to treat the casualty they found with skills taught on cadet First Aid courses, and travel with them around a course, collecting ‘lost equipment’ from their air crash to be brought back to the rendezvous point. To make things more exciting, we wanted to challenge cadets to a scenario in which they were captured by enemy forces, as shown in SAS: Who Dares Wins (except ours was slightly more PG!). When ambushed, they were informed that they had to choose one member of their team to leave behind and to give the ‘enemy forces’ a good reason for it. We hoped to highlight to the cadets the importance of teamwork, not leaving a man behind and the valued role every person plays in a team. I was inspired by some of the cadets who chose to volunteer themselves to be left behind for the betterment of their team.
Overall, the exercise was a success with all those involved completing the course in the allotted time. We hope that the leadership skills picked up and the first aid practice they received will be transferred, and that using radios for communications can convince them to switch from mobile phones!