A Pacifist in the Cadets

The author of this article wishes to remain anonymous, so she is known as 'E'.

'When E first saw pupils walking down from the school along the road carrying weapons (to the firing range, as it turned out) – she thought “SHIT! KIDS WITH GUNS – WHAT’S THAT ALL ABOUT!”

Today – it is “THE NORM” for E, she doesn’t even give it a second glance as it’s just an everyday occurrence. Now E, or as she is NOW called Sergeant H hands the guns to the kids of 13 and 14 and puts the bullets into their bullet holders – even though she says, that at the time it feels normal and ordinary – when she thinks about it, it feels wrong.

At seventeen, E went into this private school at lower 6th, was handed a uniform, expensive steel-toe capped boots, top quality waterproofs and equipment - kit and gear she or her family would never have afforded. If the cadets tear or damage any piece of clothing etc, it is automatically replaced, if it gets filthy dirty, the parents will not mind, no-one is singled out because they would be wearing branded products to do these extreme sports and all the activities. She says they would not have the same opportunities to participate – or in her own case – to teach – rock climbing, archery and so on – all funded by the MOD. She LOVES the sport and the activities.

BUT all the activities start and finish with marching and saluting – E does not salute (she cannot, as she refuses to wear the beret!!). BUT, she says, most of cadets and the trainers put on their “ARMY HEADS” as soon as they put on their uniforms.

The trainers – all ex-military – one injured the others very much retired – shout and bark out orders, calling the young ones “Scum Bags!” – “Get over here!” etc.

But so do the six- formers who earn their stripes – E went from Lance Corporal, to Corporal to Sergeant H; she now has 3 stripes, this gives her (in her words) STATUS / RESPECT FROM THE STAFF / CLOSER AFFINITY WITH THE STAFF / AUTHORITY WITHIN THE CCF – and YOUNGER PUPILS WILL NOW TAKE HER ORDERS.

E would not be able to complete her “A” level PE course without joining the CCF – it also serves towards her other courses and her First Aid and leadership and total love of outdoor pursuits. BUT, although she loads the semi-automatics for the children she is in charge of – who then shoot 10-rounds at a time at human cut-outs. E will only fire the old wooden rifles, one bullet at a time, at countryside scenes or a circular target. She was a pacifist when she went to the school, and considers herself a pacifist still; something that caused quite a dilemma for her – ‘should a pacifist join the CCF?’ – and a dilemma for her sergeant – ‘could a pacifist join the CCF?’

She feels strongly, that what these young people are involved in is APPALLING!

Particularly the DISMOUNTED CLOSE COMBAT TRAINER (DCCT) - look it up and see some of the comments – it’s reckoned not to be used by many CCF groups as even the MOD says it “glorifies war” – but it IS USED. The format is that four people (school pupils in this case) shoot at a screen where human beings are running towards them through a wood – the guns are real, minus the bullets, the Sergeants tell them when to fire – score for a hit, score more for a kill and minus points for a miss. Because it is NOT animated, not done like a video game, but it is footage of real men, they carry on running towards you, they don’t die, therefore it is totally unrealistic – they die at the end of the film. They are told it is “JUST A GAME”, but with 10 armed men running at you, you are told to fire to kill.

E ‘sounded out’ some of the younger pupils about how they would react, with loaded gun in hand, to a situation they perceived to be dangerous, if a person suddenly appeared round a corner. The unanimously said they would shoot to kill, to which E pointed out it might be an innocent civilian, even a child, but they still felt they would shoot first and ask questions later.

TACTICAL WEEKENDS

The Tactical Weekends are primarily military scenarios with shooting / flash bombing / smoke bombing / flanking and weaponry training etc

FIELD DAYS

The Field Days usually involve a disaster of some sort, usually bought on by so-called “terrorist activity” with the scenario of a disaster area after terrorist bombing and the resulting casualties. But, on field days they learn valuable First Aid and team work.

EXTRA-CURRICULLAR ACTIVITIES

The CCF offers SO MUCH – weekends away, field days, outdoor activities, first aid etc. On top of this they offer amazing residential courses at home and all over the world through the CCAT scheme – Combined Cadet Activity Training. For example White Water Rafting at their Cadet Centre for Adventurous Training (subsidised at £40) or Glacier Hiking, a 2-week course for just £300. All kit is provided and they gain accredited qualifications

E believes that all these opportunities need to be provided for all pupils throughout Britain by a NON-MILITARISED method – she said this would be incredible!!

She can see that extra-curricular activities, such as she gets, should be rolled out across the country and be available to all schools and pupils, including the subsidised residential courses – BUT not run or funded by the Armed forces –

NO DRILLS! NO GUNS!!'

Photo: British Army

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Comments

Thank you E for this thoughtful insight. About 15 years ago I worked in South Wales in a poor area with few opportunities for young people. For my work I attended meetings relating to education. Schools organised trips to universities for those who might get A levels - the 'others' were 'offered' outdoor activities with the military. Poor children were offered up as future cannon fodder.

Also, as a foster carer I see how young people leaving care are attracted by the structure and 'imagined family' of the military. However, such young people who have had difficult lives, little family support and have often suffered trauma at a young age, are particularly susceptible to being re-traumatised by killing or seeing others killed.

If only, as E says, the same opportunities were offered to help young people contribute to society and to value their peaceable gifts.

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