Select Committee on Defence Third Report



106. The Armed Forces training agencies together comprise the single largest training organisation in the country. In 2003-04 there were, at any one time, an average of 11,754 soldiers, 3,583 airmen, 2,693 Naval recruits and 1,102 Royal Marines undergoing non-officer initial training.[179] Armed Forces training, according to MoD, is designed to "ensure the provision of sufficient, motivated and capable personnel to deliver defence capability".[180] MoD regards the training and education opportunities it provides as key to the recruitment and retention of personnel.

107. The overarching responsibility for developing and delivering education and training policy across the Services lies with the Director General of Training and Education (DGT&E) based at MoD and reporting directly to the Service Chiefs. A key part of his remit is to identify best practice from external agencies and from within the Services and apply them as tri-Service policy. Responsibility for delivering training falls to five service training agencies: the Naval Recruiting and Training Agency (NRTA); the Army Training and Recruitment Agency (ATRA); the Training Group Defence Agency (recruiting airmen); the Defence Medical Education and Training Agency and the Defence Intelligence and Security Centre.[181] In the last two years, in recognition of the increasingly joint nature of military operations, training has been delivered in a joint environment, for example at the Defence Centre for Training Support based at RAF Halton which became fully operational in October 2004. Initial training, however, continues to be delivered by the respective Service training organisations. Responsibility for implementing training and welfare policies for recruits and trainees at training establishments lies with the Commanding Officer at each training establishment in accordance with guidelines and procedures set out by the relevant training agency. The Commanding Officer is accountable to the head of the particular training agency for implementation of these guidelines.

108. Initial Armed Forces non-officer training focuses on providing core single service competencies designed, according to MoD, to "give recruits a sense of their own Service's ethos as well as the confidence to function in the operational environment".[182] Inevitably differences in approach and delivery do exist between the Services due to their different operational requirements, although MoD has recognised the increasing need to provide training to common standards in order to support joint operations and deployments.

109. Some trainees at initial training establishments will be experienced Servicemen and women who have served in front-line units. This inquiry focuses on personnel in phase 1 and phase 2 initial training. We have been principally concerned with inexperienced Service personnel.

Phase 1 Training

110. Phase 1 military training has the common aim across the Services of taking civilians, a high proportion of whom are adolescents, and introducing them to the military way of life so that they can perform in a variety of unfamiliar, stressful and dangerous situations. Phase 1 training is designed, according to MoD, "to inculcate an understanding of the Armed Forces and the demands they place on the individual and developing, on an ongoing basis, mentally and physically robust individuals who have the flexibility to cope with the range of challenges they may face".[183] There are a number of common elements of phase 1 training between the Services. In all three Services, phase 1 instruction is conducted by Officers, Senior NCOs (SNCOs), Junior NCOs (JNCOs) and civilians. SNCOs and JNCOs provide the majority of training and supervision. The training is designed to induct trainees into the military ethos and develop their self-discipline, teamwork and fitness. Training days are highly structured, no leave is given and the immaturity of recruits is recognised through high supervision levels both during working hours and out-of-hours. Phase 1 recruits are not required to do armed guard duty in any of the Services. Spiritual and moral development is provided by the chaplaincy service as part of timetabled sessions throughout the course and at religious services which recruits are strongly encouraged to attend by Commanding Officers. Phase 1 training courses all conclude with a passing out parade to which friends and family may be invited.


111. Army phase 1 training for non-officer recruits takes place at five ATRA locations across the country: ATR Bassingbourn; AFC Harrogate; ATR Lichfield; ATR Pirbright and ATR Winchester.[184] ITC Catterick is a combined phase 1 and 2 training establishment for the Infantry. In 2003-04, 9,676 recruits entered phase 1 training of whom 8,190 (95.6%) passed out to phase 2 training.[185] Most training establishments train recruits for designated arms; for example, AFC Harrogate trains recruits for the Royal Armoured Corps, Royal Artillery and the Infantry, and ATR Lichfield provides training for phase 1 Royal Engineers and the Royal Signals. This approach is designed to develop loyalty to an individual's cap badge and also to ensure that recruits proceed to phase 2 training with their phase 1 colleagues, thus continuing the bond of mutual support forged during phase 1.

112. Courses last for an average of 12 weeks during which the Common Military Syllabus is taught. A longer period of phase 1 training is given for recruits training for more specialised arms. The Common Military Syllabus includes classroom and practical instruction in military skills, first aid, welfare and financial advice, parade and drill, and physical fitness.


113. The Naval Training and Recruitment Agency Training has overall responsibility for the Navy's training establishments. Phase 1 training of ratings (non-officers) takes place over eight weeks at HMS Raleigh at Torpoint, near Plymouth. In 2003-04, 2,693 recruits entered phase 1 training of whom 378 (14%) failed to pass out to phase 2 due to voluntary or medical discharge or failing to meet training standards.[186] We were told by the Commanding Officer at HMS Raleigh that recruits are not considered fully trained after eight weeks but should have a full understanding of Naval ethos at this stage.

114. Phase 1 training comprises: parade drill training to develop a sense of discipline and team spirit; basic naval general knowledge and basic numeracy and literacy; fire fighting; first aid and the design and organisation of a warship. In addition physical fitness training, including running and swimming, is carried out throughout the course. Divisional Officers, responsible for the welfare of a maximum of 60 recruits, are attached to HMS Raleigh for the duration of the course. During this time the responsibility for the day to day welfare of recruits lies initially with senior rating instructors reporting to Divisional Officers.


115. Royal Marine Commando training is carried out at the Commando Training Centre, Lympstone. Commando training combines both phase 1 basic training and phase 2 specialist training over a 30 week period with recruit intakes every two weeks. Uniquely, the Royal Marines train officer recruits alongside non-officer recruits. In 2004, 1,102 recruits entered Commando training of whom 517 (47%) failed to complete the course.[187] This relatively high failure rate reflects the strains placed on recruits by the intense and demanding physical and mental training regime. Instruction is delivered by Corporals who have completed three operational tours; this experience is intended to enable them to impart an operational flavour to training. A typical instructor tour at Lympstone lasts two years. Each Corporal is responsible for 2-3 recruits at one time.


116. RAF phase 1 non-officer training takes place at the Recruit Training School, RAF Halton. In 2003-04, there were 3,583 non-officer recruits into phase 1 of whom 387 (11%) failed to complete the course.[188]

117. Phase 1 training lasts nine weeks. Importance is placed upon discipline, teamwork and self-reliance. The course includes: drill; general service knowledge; physical education; and military field skills such as first aid, weapon handling, and protection against chemical weapons.


118. The RAF Regiment provides protection for deployed air forces against both ground and air attack. Training for the RAF Regiment is carried out at RAF Honington, Suffolk. Both phases of training take place at Honington. In 2004, 361 non-officer recruits entered training for the RAF Regiment of whom 93 (36%) failed to complete the course.[189] This high failure rate coincided with the RAF Regiment's training being moved to Catterick Garrison.

119. Phase 1 training, which lasts only seven weeks, is similar to that given to other RAF Recruits—emphasising the importance of discipline, teamwork and self-reliance. Greater emphasis is placed on physical fitness and weapon-handling training.

Phase 2 training

120. Phase 2 non-officer training is the initial specialist training which gives Service personnel the necessary skills for their first employment. Phase 2 training is normally carried out within operational units and can last from a few weeks to over a year for highly technical training.[190] Due to the varied nature of specialisms within and between the Services there is no template for phase 2 training but MoD states that:

    some common threads exist across all courses. These include the teaching of essential elements of academic knowledge, together with the practical skills that the trainee will need to employ in his or her front-line employment. Additionally, phase 2 training recognises the newness of recruits and continues to build their military skills and knowledge and to reinforce the ethos of the Service they have joined.[191]

121. As in phase 1 training some common factors apply to phase 2 training across the Services. Supervised training is carried out by NCO instructors and civilians with relevant technical expertise (usually ex-servicemen and women) although there are a greater number of civilian instructors employed in phase 2 training. In phase 2, where the aim is to develop trade skills, there is more emphasis on self-sufficiency. Weekend leave is granted at the Commanding Officer's discretion and trainees have more free time in the evenings. Spiritual and moral development continues to be provided by the chaplaincy service throughout the course and at religious services. Phase 2 recruits are expected, to a varying extent, to do armed guard duty in all three Services. On completion of phase 2 trainees attend a passing out parade to which their families may be invited after which they join their operational unit.


122. Army phase 2 training takes place at ten ATRA regiments across the UK in addition to the Infantry Training Centre at Catterick, which as we have noted is responsible for both phase 1 and phase 2 training for Infantry recruits. These ATRA regiments often act as a hub for training with specific training taking place at dedicated locations. For example the training regiment at the Defence College of Logistics, based at Deepcut, sends recruits to its Leconfield base to complete their driver training. In 2003-04, 12,831 trainees entered phase 2 non-officer training of whom 3,082 (24%) failed to complete the course.[192]

123. As in phase 1 establishments, phase 2 Army training is under the direct responsibility of the unit Commander in accordance with guidance contained in the ATRA handbook. Trainees receive training in their specific trade followed by on-the-job experience in an operational unit before returning to further training at an appropriate national training centre.


124. The Infantry Training Centre Catterick is the main training centre for the Infantry. In 2004 3,596 non-officer recruits entered ITC Catterick of whom 268 (7.5%) failed to complete the course.[193] The two phases of training are combined into a 24 week course. Following a general induction and orientation over the first few weeks Infantry recruits are trained according to the Infantry syllabus which places an emphasis on the development of practical skills, fieldcraft and physical and mental robustness. Specific training is given in first aid, radio communications (signals), driver training (theory) drill, map reading and nuclear biological and chemical training. Each recruit can expect to be instructed by the same group of instructors throughout the course. We were told on our visit that trainees over the age of 18 do armed guard duty from week 11 of their training only under strict supervision.


125. As in phase 1, Navy phase 2 training is under the direction of the Naval Recruiting and Training Agency (NRTA). Training of Royal Navy phase 2 ratings takes place at HMS Collingwood for RN Warfare and Weapons Engineers, HMS Sultan for Marine Engineering and HMS Raleigh for RN Logistics specialists. In 2003-04 2,299 recruits entered phase 2 training of whom 277 (12%) failed to complete the course.[194] We were told that Naval phase 2 training is designed for a trainee to develop the necessary technical skills required to perform professional duties at sea.

126. We were also told that trainees are usually instructed to reach higher technical standards than is generally the case for Army personnel and will receive nationally recognised qualifications such as NVQs and foundation degrees on successful completion of their course. Although Naval personnel continue to be trained in weapon handing, the number of phase 2 personnel routinely employed in guarding training establishments has according to MoD "declined significantly over the last two years with the introduction of the [Military Provost Guard Service] MPGS".[195]


127. RAF phase 2 non-officer training is designed to develop the skills of trainees for their chosen trade. Phase 2 training in the RAF is based at RAF Halton, RAF Cosford and RAF Honnington (combined phase 1 and 2 training for the RAF Regiment). These bases act as a hub for specialist training at other RAF units including RAF St Athan, the Central Air Traffic Control School, School of Fighter Control, School of Air Cartography, the RAF Movements School and the Defence Fire Services Central Training Establishment. In 2003-04 there were 2,757 non-officer recruits in phase 2 training of whom 672 (24%) failed to complete the course.[196] Both phases of RAF Regiment training are combined at RAF Honington. The first seven weeks are the equivalent of phase 1. The second phase lasts for a further 17 weeks.

179   Ev 243, 247, 249 Back

180   Ev 232 Back

181   Ev 233 Back

182   Ibid Back

183   Ev 233 Back

184   Ev 243 Back

185   Ibid; the previous year there was a total of 11,142 phase 1 entrants of whom 9,196 (95.9%) passed out to phase 2 training. Back

186   Ev 249; this compares to a total of 3,510 entering training in 2002-3 of whom 705 (20%) failed to pass out to phase 2 training. Back

187   Ev 248; this compares to an intake of 1,123 the previous year, of whom 478 (43%) failed to complete the course. Back

188   Ibid; this compares to 3,929 recruits in 2002-03 of whom 332 (8.4%) failed to complete the course. Back

189   DOC (3) Annex C; Ev 251; this compares to an intake of 337 in 2003 of whom 162 (52%) failed to complete the course. Back

190   Ev 234 Back

191   Ibid Back

192   Ev 243; this compares with a 2002-03 total of 11,977 of whom 2,717 (22%) failed to complete the course. Back

193   DOC ( 3) Annex C, Ev 248; this compares to an intake of 4,101in 2003 of whom 1,202 (29%) failed to complete the course. Back

194   Ibid; this compares to a 2002-3 total of 2,337 of whom 330 (14%) failed to complete the course. Back

195   Ev 319 Back

196   Ev 248; this compares to 3,102 recruits in 2002-03 of whom 427 (14%) failed to complete the course. Back

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