70 young men and women enter the life of a soldier in Recruit Camp
Around 70 recruits were at Warwick Camp yesterday for the first day of boot camp, down from 160 last year after the Regiment had its budget slashed from $2.9 million to $1.7 million.
Some of the faces were as gloomy as the grey sky above as the recruits, including the unusually high figure of about ten women, gathered at the Camp entrance ahead of yesterdays 8am start.
Captain Kenji Bean explained many were likely apprehensive ahead of a gruelling two-week schedule of drills and military lessons.
Its going to be a culture shock for a lot of them, Capt Bean told The Royal Gazette. Some of them have never been in a military environment before and theyve never been distanced from their parents and family for any extended period of time. A lot of them are not physically fit, and theyll have to deal with early morning fitness training.
Drills will be as early as 5.30am, said Capt Bean, with particularly tough routines in store for those who turn up late. There were three such unpunctual trainees yesterday.
But the humiliating jeers from bystanders as the stragglers belatedly trudged through the gates seemed more painful than the relatively gentle urges from officers to hurry along. There was certainly none of the shoving and bawling at latecomers associated with recruit camps of years gone by.
And apart from one moment when a new trainee was ordered to stop smiling, there was little evidence of the kind of fearsome disciplining made famous by movies like Full Metal Jacket.
They will have heard different rumours from family members or friends who were in the Regiment and may have been expecting someone to shout at them and get in their face, said Capt Bean.
But that generally doesnt happen unless theres a need. Most of the time, theyre only shouting to make themselves heard. A lot of movies put out the wrong perception about military life.
Nevertheless, training will be tough, said Capt Bean, as the reduction in numbers has led to a greater degree of focus in everything the Regiment does.
When we are training, it will be concentrating on getting the job done in less time, he said. There will be less manpower to do the same job.
Yesterdays session involved an introduction to training and military equipment; over the next two weeks their work will also involve firing and marching drills, and lessons on military history and the Defence Act.