Strengthening the intellectual foundation for our profession of arms.
April 20th, 2016 by Scott Atkinson
I was privileged to be selected to attend Exchange Programme Long Look (LL) in 2015. LL is an incredible professional development opportunity for junior officers and NCOs. Each LL experience will be different and processes may vary, but here are my thoughts about the programme for fellow Subbies who may be interested.
LL is a reciprocal exchange between the ADF and the UK Armed Forces. The four-six month exchange promotes continued cooperation between the UK and AS through exposure to different procedures, equipment, personnel and culture. Junior officers and NCOs are selected in order to broaden military experience and professional knowledge. For my LL, I was privileged to be attached to the 3 Commando Brigade.
I found that the benefits of LL include:
Frequently asked questions
What do I actually get to do? You get the opportunity to integrate and network with a foreign defence force. What this actually entails is up to your host unit chain-of-command. The programme offers the opportunity to integrate with the host unit in barracks and field exercises as well as the ability to complete courses. From an engineering perspective, LL provided me the opportunity to:
What is the general day to day activity? The barracks and field environments were very similar to Australia. Within barracks, PT was never missed and ran from Tue – Fri with sports on Wed afternoons. Conferences were completed Monday afternoons and mornos was attended daily. All preparation for future exercises was conducted within the remaining time.
What is the accommodation like? I was accommodated within the mess facilities. The British have a big mess culture as all ranks live-on or on the patch.
What happens on the weekend? Most garrisons are ghost towns come Friday lunch onwards. As all ranks live-on throughout the week, they all head to family/partners on the weekends. Plan your weekends. You can get a lot jammed in with everything so close. Flights to the rest of the UK and Europe are cheap and easy to achieve provided approval is given from the chain-of-command. Monday is generally a late start for most units to accommodate everyone’s return.
Terminology. You will find the British and ADF have very similar military terminology and methodology. Although, both military forces have their own unique terms that have developed over the years. Some terms you will hear often are:
What kit do I need? This varies based on your unit’s field training that they have lined up for you. For me, this varied from a Mediterranean amphibious environment to the mountains of Wales/Scotland. Ensure your kit is waterproofed!
Importantly, the process is through your chain-of-command and with their recommendation/endorsement. LL is open to all corps and was initiated for me through a request for nomination provided to the unit’s chain-of-command. The chain-of-command provides nominations based on current performance, potential for professional development, and your Commanding Officer’s assessment on suitability for an international representation opportunity. Nominations are usually requested in the year preceding the exchange. Check with your boss as the process may slightly change from year-to-year.
Overall, LL was an excellent experience. I recommend if you are selected to contact a previous LL participant to find out the hints and tips for your time in the UK.
Scott Atkinson is a Civil Engineer in the Australian Army. His area of interests are technical engineering and amphibious engineer operations. In 2015, he completed the Exchange Program Long Look with 3 Commando Brigade in the United Kingdom.