One of the biggest perks of a career in the Army is the opportunity to spread your wings and travel.
Whether practising exercise manoeuvres on the expanses of the Canadian Prairies, or carrying out peacekeeping missions and outreach work in Uganda, as a soldier in the British Army you can expect to get a fair few stamps in your passport.
Captain Zabina Holt, who guest-edited Issue 5 of The Locker, is no stranger to travel. In her years in the Army, she has scaled snowy peaks, parachuted from planes and got to grips with living in a foreign country.
Here she shares some of the incredible experiences only a career in the military can provide.
“Our training takes us to all parts of the world where we can hone our skills in challenging environments. We have to be prepared for every type of deployment. Exercises are also a good chance to train alongside foreign allies. I’ve done some amazing exercises on the ski slopes.
“In 2010, I travelled to Bessans in France for six weeks to compete in a Nordic skiing competition called Exercise Spartan Hike. We were taught different skiing techniques and participated in a biathlon.
“For Goodness Shakes were sponsoring us, so we had amazing accommodation and food. We would get up in the morning, ski for four hours, have lunch and then ski all afternoon. And when we weren’t on the slopes we would travel to the ranges to practise shooting.
“I was awarded the Best Nordic Novice prize that year, and when I came home from France I was so fit!”
“Operations can be anywhere in the world and include a wide variety of different tasks. Humanitarian missions are just as integral to the Army’s values as combat deployments.“One of the biggest achievements of my time in the Army was going on operations to Afghanistan. This was the culmination of all my training and I was totally focused on getting out there and doing the job I was trained for. It was hard work – it was 50 degrees and we had to wear all our kit and equipment: body armour, plates, a helmet and weapons. Just to move with that amount of kit on is really draining.
“We helped to physically dismantle and provide the security for the closure of all British operations in Afghanistan, most notably at Camp Bastian. The feeling that you were actually making a difference – instead of just being sat behind a desk – was incredible.
“It was a big challenge, but it’s one of my biggest ticks in the box.”
“Soldiers can be posted to any one of the British Army bases that are located around the world. Overseas postings can take you to places like Belize in Central America and Brunei in Southeast Asia.
“I was posted to Gütersloh and then Sennelager in Germany from August 2011 to December 2014. During this time, I had a six-month stint in Afghanistan, but I always called Germany my home.
“I loved the difference in lifestyle – the weather can be so bad in England we end up spending all our time indoors, but in Germany the two main seasons are sunny and snowing. In the summer, I would swim 50 lengths in the outdoor pool before work and we’d have barbecues in the evening. In winter there were Christmas markets and at weekends we would sometimes drive to the mountains for hot chocolate and skiing.
“Being right in the middle of Europe was amazing. In our free time we went on lots of holidays and city breaks to places such as Budapest and Poland.”
“Adventurous training often involves mastering a new skill. These programmes can take place in the UK or abroad, it just depends on the type of terrain needed for the training. There are loads of chances to try something new. The aim is always to develop your teamwork and leadership qualities, as well as to get to grips with an activity you’ve never tried before.
“It’s all about testing yourself in new environments outside your comfort zone. It’s as much about overcoming mental challenges as physical ones. I’ve walked the Camino de Santiago in Spain for mountain leadership training, tried gliding in Wiltshire and jumped out of planes in Cyprus. I really wanted to do a static line jump after learning to free fall, but the wind was too strong.
“If you like an adventure, then the Army will give you the chance to fill your weekends with loads of amazing activities.”