Life at the Royal Military College – Duntroon is both physically and mentally demanding. Cadets are trained from the early hours of the morning until late in the evening. Preparing yourself for the rigors of this environment will set you up for success at RMC. The following are a few tips that I would have wanted to know before applying to train at RMC.
1. Play Team Sports
Team sports like rugby, netball, cricket, and rowing are outstanding at developing a mentality to help not only yourself but also your peers achieve excellence. While also improving your fitness, these sports develop robust social skills and enable members to better handle friction between people. When applying for RMC, list every sport that you play be it social or at a competitive level, as well as any key leadership positions you may hold such as team captain or manager.
2. Personal Physical Robustness
Being physically robust does not mean being the strongest or the fastest. The all-rounder achieves higher results than the one who focuses their efforts in one area. Cardio is one of the most critical aspects of training, do not neglect it! Ensure you follow a training program that incorporates strength, agility, and endurance on equal levels.
3. Injuries Happen
It is better to deal with a niggle early on rather than try and self-manage and end up with a proper injury that will set you back six months or longer. Injuries are a dime a dozen while training at RMC, those that are not physically robust will suffer a minor injury at some stage during training. Army employs skilled physios and health professionals to ensure that you remain fighting fit, use them!
4. Expand Your Understanding
Read more. If you have an interest in politics, read. If you love military theory, read. If you are mad about doctrine, read. The broader your understanding and the easier it is for you to grasp new material, the faster you will pick up on the basic concepts taught at RMC. Falling behind due to not understanding a concept is the first step to being back classed.
5. Ask Questions
There is no shame in not knowing something. The only shame comes from not having the guts to put up your hand for clarification. The staff are not out to fail you; they will one day be your peers and want skilled officers to work with. If you do feel that during a lecture is not the appropriate time to ask, the staff are extremely approachable and are more than happy to sit down for a talk over a coffee.
6. A Degree Does Not Mean Much
Yes, a university degree is a big deal. No, it does not make you better than the person who enlisted straight out of school or came up through the ranks. You must understand that people from all walks of life strive to become officers in the Australian Army. The fastest way to put someone offside is to have a superiority complex. Too often it is found that those with a higher education believe they are a step above their peers, do not fall into this trap. Some of the finest officers have never stepped foot in a university.
7. Get Used to the Great Outdoors
A vast portion of each class is spent operating in the field. That is, living under a hootchie, stomping through from place to place, carrying your home on your back, and living off not the most pleasant of meals. The quicker you become accustomed to the wet and dirt of field, the more you will enjoy it. Just remember, when the sky opens and rain buckets down, your skin is waterproof.
8. Develop a Sense of Urgency
This is a luxury that must not be wasted. RMC has a huge course load that would make many university courses look like a vacation. While the contact hours run from 0730 until 1800 on a good day, there is always additional study that must be done. In addition to this is uniform and room preparation, administration work, meetings, sporting commitments, and extra duties, all of which consume that dwindling supply of spare time. Learn how to best manage your time, prepare early, and work to maximum efficiency.
9. Prepare Your Family
For many cadets, family is extremely important. Be it your partner, children, siblings or parents, they all have a large impact on your life. Find the time to talk with them, discover their feelings on your enlistment and ensure the decision is not only right for you but also for your family. I have seen many relationships in my short time in the Army break down due to the amount of time spent apart while at RMC. Know how your family feels and support them.
10. RMC is not the Real Army
Many cadets accept that RMC life is how the entirety of Army operates. This is far from the truth. Simply be aware that RMC is its own little world with many rules unique to only Duntroon. Once you graduate, the ‘check slide’ goes out the window as do many of the little ‘RMCisms’.
These ten tips are things I wish I had known prior to coming to RMC. Life would have been easier and I would have been set up for success, and poised to focus on my study with limited distractions. While not an exhaustive list of what you may need to know about RMC life, these tips for young players may help make your time at RMC just a little easier.