When your attention is fully focused on a map – whether it’s a globe of the Earth or a map of inland waterways like those available at Maps Online – it’s easy to find your imagination carried away to distant lands.
Those waterways become routes inland for your squadron, wading upstream with faces full of camouflage paint, while the globe becomes a virtual battlefield as you enact World War III in your own mind.
But just like the massive variety of maps that are available, the military training given to Armed Forces across the world is vastly different from country to country.
Here are just a few examples of this put into practice.
You might think you know how British Army soldiers are trained already, but you might not realise quite how well structured the process is.
For instance, all infantrymen – regardless of where they are from – take their basic training at ITC Catterick in North Yorkshire.
Training focuses not only on combat, but also on necessary related skills – first aid, field craft and adventure skills, and on a general awareness of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear issues.
Shift your focus to the US, and you find TRADOC – the US Army Training and Doctrine Command – whose training has gone through plenty of changes as part of the Army of 2020 initiative, which hopes to improve the country’s adaptive land force to be the best in the world.
The scale of the TRADOC operation is quite different from that of the British Army; far from being trained at one venue, US Army recruits go to one of 32 schools and learning centres at 15 different installations.
TRADOC itself is present in some form at 20 different continental US locations, and trains around 500,000 individuals each year.
In both North and South Korea, it’s difficult to know exactly what the situation is – partly due to the levels of secrecy surrounding the Armed Forces there, and partly because of the rapidly changing picture on the Korean peninsula.
From North Korea particularly, the occasional rocket test launch is often as much information as is clearly made available for months at a time, although reports unsurprisingly say that much of the North Korean Army is permanently based close to the demilitarised zone separating it from its closest neighbour.
Shift your gaze to South Korea, and you’re confronted with a similarly changing picture, this time due to the Armed Forces’ long-term goal of becoming self-sufficient, rather than needing to rely on American support.
Reports from here say that South Korea are using a broad range of different vehicles, including American and Russian designs, as well as cannibalising components from Russian vehicles to incorporate into South Korean-designed machinery.
This, combined with an Army reportedly considering all of the various combat options available, from conventional methods to new, innovative ideas, makes this part of the world – generally thought to be slightly more stable than its northern neighbour – one to watch in the years to come.
Royal Netherlands Army
In stark contrast to the ongoing upheavals on the Korean Peninsula, the Royal Netherlands Army is a peace-focused force designed to act as a protector, rather than as an aggressor.
As well as defending the Netherlands, the Army is also tasked with protecting NATO allies and contributing towards global stability.
Of its 26,000 personnel, 3,300 – more than one in eight – are part of Training Command, a unit that provides training on everything from vehicle handling to fire fighting, logistics and physical fitness.
Professional trainers and observers are complemented by modern-day simulators, making for an up-to-date all-round approach to coaching new recruits.
If you’re expecting a more laid-back approach to Army training from the Australians, then you’re right to do so.
There’s still basic Army training for those who need it, but as well as those General Service Officers, the Australian Army recruits Specialist Service Officers – people with an engineering or medical qualification.
For those people, a total of 32 days’ training is all that is needed to learn how to put those existing skills into practice in a military situation – a baptism of fire compared with the 18 months’ training given to GSOs.
Finally, the Brazilian Army has been working hard to get fully up to date, visiting US Army installations to discuss issues of doctrine, leadership development and concept development.
It’s an ongoing process, but like the efforts made in South Korea, it’s a demonstration that many nations of the world are currently working to prepare themselves for future combat, without relying so closely on the support of allies.
This guest post is contributed by Maps Online, a pioneer in online map retail helping to enhance your travel experiences.