‘Flexibility' Means Coronavirus Will Not Hamper Training At AFC Harrogate

The Commanding Officer of the Army Foundation College in Harrogate says training will not be disrupted even if forced to close temporarily.

Training at the Army Foundation College in Harrogate will not be hampered by the ongoing coronavirus crisis, the college's Commanding Officer has told Forces News.

The college, which less than two weeks ago welcomed its largest ever intake of recruits, has "flexibility" when it comes to training, according to Lieutenant Colonel Rich Hall. 

So far, there have been no reports of COVID-19 cases at the centre in north Yorkshire. 

The new recruits spent their first week at the college getting a haircut, trying on some of their new kit and learning their very first drill steps. 

Lt Col Hall said he is confident the college's training programme can cope with a COVID-19 outbreak, even if it means temporary closure. 

"We have a very long course and lots of depth to it," Lt Col Hall said.

"We could close temporarily and then be able to regain and carry on with our training without too much of an impact.

"Lots of our course is modular as well, so being able to cease training in one area and focus on something else gives us probably a little bit more flexibility." 

The college trains junior soldiers aged between 16-18 and is the only one of its kind in the country.

A total of 1,392 junior soldiers have enrolled into the college this year - an increase of two platoons on last year.

The Army Foundation College in Harrogate welcomed its largest ever intake of recruits earlier this month.

Around 20% of the new recruits won't make it through the course - although that figure is falling year-on-year.

The biggest challenge for many is homesickness and the college is implementing new strategies to try and help.

"The new direction that we are going [is] through the Army's Op Smart programme," Lt Col Hall said.

"[It does] focus a lot on mental resilience training, so it's actually brought a lot of mental resilience coping mechanisms forward.  

"Certainly by week three, their mental resilience training will be complete and that will stand them in a really good stead for the rest of the year." 

The college runs a 23-week course and a 49-week course, and those who graduate can go on to serve across the Army.