Terms went by and Steve made many friends at University. Good times were spent on nights out until one day his life would change. He met a girl and they talked briefly. The next week, he saw her again and found out she was called Michelle. They talked all evening and began to spend more time together. Before long, they were going out and life was happy for them both.

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Whilst soldiering, Steve found a desire to study was gathering momentum. He applied for a University place and was accepted. He considered a career in the army against the opportunity to gain a degree and do something else. Before long, he told his commanding officer of his decision to go to University. And so, the time came for him to leave the regiment. He had grown in confidence during his time as a soldier. But, more than anything, he had learned from the best how to be resilient.

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In The Regiment

As a junior soldier, the training continued for Steve. He spent time in different garrisons and went on exercises during day and night in rugged terrain. A lot of time was spent on the ranges where he honed his skill with a rifle. The soldiers practised firing in the prone position, kneeling and standing.  Steve found his accuracy improving and was confident of hitting the targets at distances exceeding four hundred metres, even in bad weather conditions.

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Pass Or Fail

When the teams had finished, they were speed marched back to the barracks and everyone was ordered into ranks as the Corporals and Sergeant gathered around to collate their marks. After all the effort, this was it. The Sergeant walked purposefully to the front and cleared his throat. He explained there were three grades. Elite pass, marginal pass and fail. Without messing about, he read the name of each recruit out and their grade. Steve closed his eyes and breathed evenly. It had all come down to this.

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Final Tests

After lunch, the recruits were led to an assault course made from scaffolding and planks of wood. It was an aerial confidence course between three and fifteen metres high designed to test the recruits’ suitability for military parachuting. Steve climbed a metal ladder about ten metres high to a platform. Up there, he ran along planks, jumped between gaps and then ran over horizontal ladders. He had to swing across ropes and leap off ramps above the trees without anything to break a fall. Several recruits failed this event and were removed from the course. One unfortunate recruit fell from height and was taken away in an ambulance. The recruits never saw him again. At the end, Steve lined up with the men who passed.

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Stretcher Race

In the morning, Steve’s legs had stiffened and he hobbled over for breakfast. After stretching to loosen off, he lined up for the next event. He was looking forward to the assault course. Standing next to another recruit, a sergeant shouted “Go!!!”. Steve sprinted to the vertical netting and raced up and over the other side. In between each short run was an obstacle, from climbing ropes, to brick walls and wooden beams. He reached the end gasping for breath and was sure he finished in a good time.

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Battle March

After the event, the recruits went to the mess hall and lined up for food. With a plate in front, Steve sat down and could feel swelling over his left eye. He felt sick, but it was important to eat because the next event was after lunch. After only a few minutes, Corporals entered the hall and shouted to get outside. The recruits ran to the parade square and lined up. The test in the afternoon would be a ten mile battle march in full gear. With orders to get ready, they ran back to the barracks. Sitting on his iron bed, Steve packed kit into his webbing belt and an assault pack. Pulling the straps over his shoulders, he clipped the belt together and put the assault pack onto his back. He grabbed his rifle and helmet, then doubled to the parade square. The kit was heavy and the battle march had to be completed within one hour and fifty minutes for a recruit to pass. Failing this event would mean an automatic fail for the whole course. This was the big one.

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Steve stayed awake late into the night. Others around him were asleep in the barracks, but he was deep in thought. The final tests to become a soldier in the regiment would begin in the morning. He was serious, knowing these physical and mental tests were designed to weed out the weak. Steve was quite skinny when he began the training but now he was fit and strong. His confidence was growing, but he wanted to focus on each test in turn. After a fitful sleep, he got up while it was still dark and readied himself. Nerves kicked in.

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Raw Recruit

Initial processing involved Steve dropping his bag off in a billet and being issued with a uniform. He was given black boots, green trousers, a sweater with patches on the elbows and shoulders, T-shirts and a combat jacket. In between initial training runs, they were shown how to wear the uniform properly, polish boots, wash clothes, shave and personal hygiene. The training staff wore their smart maroon berets while the recruits wore camouflage caps. There were lectures on rifles and the recruits were told the training would focus on physical fitness. The recruits’ ability to operate outside their comfort zone would be tested during P Company. The few recruits who passed would then serve in the regiment.

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Recruitment Office

After the exam results, Steve Nobody was in a dilemma. He had the grades to go to University, but needed a break from education. His parents insisted he should immediately go to University. A quick decision had to be made. Steve caught a bus to a nearby town and wandered the streets. His stomach rumbled, but he did not have enough money to buy food. He thought about accepting a University place. It felt wrong, but he could not think of anything else to do.

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