Instructor Flight Sergeant Anthony Makins has just graduated from No 8 Junior Leaders Course, just before his 18 birthday. He is the first cadet from 241 Sqn to have every completed this course, and is believed to be the first cadet in London Wing to have passed and been awarded the JFL Shoulder Flash and purple lanyard.
The course, which is in its 8th year, is the premier Air Cadet Organisation Leadership Course. It is spread over 8 weekends and a weeks assessment over the autumn and winter months at some of England’s most bleak military bases, and is designed to challenge the candidate both mentally and physically and to enable them to achieve things they would not have though possible. Graduates of the course also achieved a Level 2 Qualification from the Institute of Leadership and Management.
“In July 2006 I applied for Junior Leader’s Course No. 8 and attended a selection weekend that September. This consisted of both fitness, leadership and public speaking tests. They consisted of a 5 minute presentation to my new peers, the basic fitness test, an Assault Course and Command tasks. The tempo was fairly high and I knew I was starting probably the best leadership courses the ATC has to offer. About 70-75 people passed selection and were issued the kit we would be using for the next 8 months.
Two weeks later I returned (again to RAF Honington) for the next training weekend. Up until Christmas I would attend these weekends regularly, they are all part of the Core Skills phase of training. During this phase there was a lot of classroom work, including leadership theory, first aid and navigation (a lot during the night). We were also trained to write good CVs and passed weapons handling tests on both the L85 A2 and L86 A2 rifles.
In October we spent our first night under a basha, a culture shock for some on the course, but training from 241 had prepared me well. This particular weekend was marred by torrential rain and a 10km march (half uphill). The amount of water taken on by my boots that weekend rendered them useless for nearly a week.
In December was the last of the CS phases and was a test weekend where we had to give another presentation on a given topic. Another fitness test was undertaken as well as weapons handling tests. We did though have a Christmas social and get rather merry. It is worth noting that up until now nearly the whole course was theoretical and classroom work and had not been spent in the field. This is not a very well advertised part of the course and new applicants would do well to note.
However, January through to April we were out in the field in tactical scenarios firing blank ammunition, leading section attacks and carrying out patrols. We became used to long marches with our Bergans by March and entered Test week in April well prepared.
During Test Week everyone would be assessed as a 2IC, a section commander and a sub-ordinate. You would work as a section commander for 24 hours including briefings, execution and filling in patrol reports. At one stage of the exercise a Tornado jet flew a simulated attack mission for us, which was something to remember. After six days in the field those that passed had their pass out parade and a formal dinner with many high ranking officers, including the Commandant of the RAF Regiment. 49 people passed the course. At the end I had a big smile on my face and am happy to report that this is the best course I have ever done in my time in the Cadets!”
The photograph shows a typically cheerful Anthony proudly displaying his Course Shoulder Flash