When it comes to learning from the best, then this year’s Master’s Weekend makes top trumps. The expectations of a weekend at The Joint Services Defence Academy in Shrivenham were high and boy did they deliver. Not only was the assembled group of Guild Freemen treated to insight usually reserved for Forces personnel, but we were granted access to a simulation situation which is used across all ranks to not only engender team spirit but also to identify specific traits within an individual as part of a team. The MOD spent £2m on their simulation environment which gives personnel virtual experience of handling a range of hostile environments. Having said that our simulation exercise was carried out at a galactic level. The five teams piloted their own starship which ended up in battle in space against a common enemy. It was fascinating to see how the teams and their captains handled the six man teams in unfamiliar territory by shouting commands from the bridges of the ‘Enterprise-like’ crafts. Let’s just say the second attempts after a coffee break, were a lot more focussed! Our host for the day was Major Tom Mouat, an inspirational leader who made us all feel secure in the knowledge that he is the first line of training for all new forces personnel. His knowledge, confidence and general demeanour was second to none.
After the simulation we ventured into what I want to call a museum, but would be shot on sight if I did, so let’s just call it a collection of varied, extremely large and powerful weaponry from around the globe. Many pieces have been collected after a war, donated or swapped. Wherever it comes from it’s all pretty impressive kit. After a short talk on each type of artillery we were let loose to clamber, climb and get closer to the metal. We were under strict instructions to not press any buttons as the machinery was in full working order! The job to demonstrate the machinery was down to Major Tom and two of his colleagues: Lt Col Steve France and SSgt Tony Wilson, who were both as passionate about the equipment as anyone could ever be. Their jobs are to keep the equipment in tip top condition, and what a great job they do.
Our final brief was on surveillance when we learned more about the development of drones in security situations. Major Tom also covered cloaking devices which essentially keep tanks and other objects off the infrared cameras operated by the enemy.
After a short break back at the luxury spa hotel, a beautiful leather-clad coach from SMC Coach Hire whisked the black tie and evening gown adorned group back to the Victory Dining Room, Joint Services Command & Staff College for a champagne reception and formal three course dinner hosted by General Sir Christopher Deverell, Commander Joint Force Command. He summarised how excited he is to be forging even closer relations with The Guild of Entrepreneurs and hopes that the two organisations can learn from each other. The Master, Lee Robertson responded to General Deverell’s remarks with a stirring recap of just how the relationship between the two organisations will benefit everyone involved.
Guests then retired to the Henderson Bar until late into the evening and the luxury coach arrived to convey us back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep after a day which took us from the realities of warfare in the modern day to the future of warfare, who knows? All we can say is that Major Tom delivered, and ground control heard him.
Written by Court Assistant Neil Fullbrook, Photos (c) David Dunkley Gyimah