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The Squadron Sergeant Major’s Cadre

Last week the Squadron Sergeant Major’s (SSM’s) Cadre took place at Dettingen House RHQ The RLC. Newly promoted SSM’s from a wide variety of units across the Corps attended. We caught up with WO2 Stiffell and asked him what he thought of the cadre.

Firstly for people who don’t know, what is the SSM’s cadre?
“The cadre is a really good starting point for someone like myself who hasn’t taken up their post yet. It’s a really good eye opening course based on what you can and can’t do as a Squadron Sergeant Major, the legal pitfalls that are about and signposting you on where you can go for advice. It’s also a bit of networking as you get to meet other SSM’s, some of whom are already in post and have been doing the job for 18 months and others like myself who are haven’t started yet, so not only am I learning things from the Command Sergeant Major, I’m learning things from the SSM’s who are already in post. It means that when you go to your unit if you have a problem you have a network of other SSM’s behind you backing you up.”

What does the course involve?
“We have group discussions on different topical subjects; at the moment we are looking at things like recruiting and retention and what we can do to aid that from our position as Squadron Sergeant Major, especially the retention element as that is keeping people in the Army. We can’t really have a massive effect on the recruiting side of things, but retention really is our bag and helping people out and not necessarily losing them from the Army altogether. We may lose people out of the Corps, but we can find them somewhere else in the British Army.

We’ve also had lectures and presentations on various things, all quite useful. We had 25 Training Regiment come down and tell us what they do and once they’ve finished training the guys at their end, what we can expect to gain from them. We’ve also had the Corps Colonel come down and give us snippets on what the Corps is going through at the moment and what it’s about to go through, his vision and what he feels he can do about it.”

How are you going to take what you have learnt here forward?
“I think the role of SSM has changed a lot over the years I think it’s not so much now the stereotypical man that screams and shouts all the time, although there is still an element of that at the right time. I think it’s certainly taught me how we should be treating our young guys and girls, and not automatically treating them like they are beneath you, because there not, it reaffirms that more than anything. The Cadre is full of lots of tips and hints and things like that that, that you can take away and you catch yourself writing these little snippets down all the time and you’ll take them away and you’ll build on them and when the lessons finished. There’s been a few occasions when you find yourself over lunch still talking about things with the guys on the course, and you’re getting lots of tips from those guys as well.”

Would you say that in the past you had a different approach to motivating people?
“The way I was brought up as a young soldier was not always getting a lot of praise, and not always getting a lot of direction, and I think nowadays its more about giving direction. Don’t just expect things to be done to your standards when these guys are quite a number of years behind you, and you shouldn’t expect the same high standards from them, however if you do want that high standard give them the direction and give them help. It’s also really important to the team ethic to make sure people feel wanted and valued in the team, if you’re not going to let people feel that you’re going to lose people and you’re going to struggle to keep hold of people.”

What sort of problems do you think a SSM faces?
“The biggest problem a SSM faces is that within every job you will have that rotten apple; and its making sure that that one bad soldier who just doesn’t want to be in the Army, and you’ve tried everything, you’ve done everything with him, and it’s making sure he/she doesn’t bring other soldiers down, without singling him out without sending him away to do what he wants, or stay in the block all day. You’ve still got to make this guy feel wanted as much as though he doesn’t want to be in your organisation. There is quite a lot of that discipline side of life, its hard and very complicated nowadays. Without a good SSA (discipline clerk) you are going to struggle to get through your discipline, you could spend all of your working day on one guy for a bit of discipline, which you didn’t originally have planned and then you are giving a lot of time to your guys who are not perhaps up to scratch, and neglecting the good guys which is difficult to come to terms with.”

Explain your role as a Squadron Sergeant Major?
“It depends massively on which squadron you are with, whether is a task or a HQ squadron and it depends on the trade as well. I’m going to a movement and postal and courier squadron, they are very busy squadrons as they’re always away on worldwide tasking’s. Generally my job will involve motivating and disciplining the soldiers, advising the OC on the running of the squadron, and generally just being the glue in the whole squadron holding everything together and that’s how I would describe it really.”

WO1 A R Meek Command Sergeant Major RLC said “This week is invaluable to the new Squadron Sergeant Majors of the RLC, they learn so much from each other as no Squadron is the same and we need our people to be able to change and adapt with the times. This Cadre like all Cadres/Courses does not make instant SSM’s, there is no ‘Blue Print’ it offers the tools to take them forward to become high quality senior soldiers. They after all are the ones that will move forward to become the Regimental Sergeant Majors and Late Entry (LE) Officers of the future. “


The Royal Logistic Corps

The Lifetime Achievement award goes to....Lt Col Fiona Gordon’s sporting career spans nearly 30 years where she has represented both the RLC and Army, as well as her running club, at cross country, athletics and trail running. Such achievements are worthy of recognition but, equally impressive, has been her dedication, energy and leadership that has inspired, encouraged, and mentored hundreds of athletes, particularly women, to participate in sport. These factors epitomise the very essence of the Lifetime Achievement Award.During her career Col Fiona has won over 60 individual titles (from unit to national master’s level) in all running disciplines ranging from 400m to an 86-mile ultra-marathon; as well as multi-terrain duathlons. In her younger years, she was twice selected to represent the Army at the Inter-Services, at a time when there was only one team of six. As a Corps sportswoman, there can’t be many (if any) athletes who, not only still finish in the top five in their Corps, but then go on to represent their Corps at the Inter-Corps Championships every time. Perhaps equally unique, she is also possibly one of the few left in the Corps that were awarded their Corps colours (for both cross country and athletics) following its formation in 1993. And, remarkably at age 51 she still finished 4th RLC female at the Corps and Inter Corps Championships. ... See MoreSee Less
The Hemming Belt is awarded to.....This season has been a Royal performance from LCpl Megan Reid culminating in her being crowned as the Scottish National Champion. She began boxing after joining The RLC in 2013 and she won an RLC title in her first season as a boxer. Thereafter, she entered the Army Individuals' Championships that same year where her natural talent shone through and she was crowned champion. Given her Scottish heritage, the following season she entered the Scottish Championships, and was narrowly beaten in the final, no mean feat for her third boxing season. Her performance in the final was outstanding and resulted in her first international call up, representing Scotland in the Great Britain Championships. LCpl Reid returned to the English Championships in 2017, this time going one step further and gaining a Silver medal. Since then she has represented The RLC, Army, UK Armed Forces and Scotland at the highest level in the European Championships and twice at the World Championships. LCpl Reid has represented the Corps and the Army with a style that most boxers and other sportsmen and sportswomen aspire. She is a credit to her Unit, The RLC and the Army and a role model for all aspiring athletes and soldiers. She has achieved so much in such a short space of time where, looking to the future, her Gold at her National Championships means that she is the unrivalled queen of RLC Boxing and is duly nominated for the award of the Hemming Belt. ... See MoreSee Less
The Lifetime achievement award goes to.....Cpl Keleni Drummond has been a Corps and Army sportswoman since she joined the Army in 2001 at the age of 21. Her military sporting career began on the Rugby pitch, but it did not take long for Basketball and Netball players to scout her for their respective teams; she has played all three sports at Corps level from inception. By the time of her assignment to 17 Port and Maritime Regiment in 2007, Cpl Drummond had represented the Army at Rugby, Netball and Basketball. Sadly, during an Army Rugby fixture against the Farnborough Women's Team she was badly injured and had to take a break from the pitch to focus on rehabilitation. Dedicated and focused to recuperate, by 2009 she was back fighting fit and switched her focus to both Netball and Basketball. Cpl Drummond’s sporting successes are numerous and varied where, in addition to representing the UK Armed Forces Basketball Team from 2016 - 2018, she captained the Corps Netball Team from 2012 - 2014 leading the RLC to Inter-Corps victory three years in a row, including representing the Army during this period. In spite of her previous injury Cpl Drummond put her rugby boots back on in 2019 to re-join the Corps Team in winning the Inter-Corp Rugby 10s, 15s and the Palestine Cup. She continued her successful leadership streak and captained the Army Masters Netball Team to success at the 2020 Inter-Services Championships. Corporal Drummond is one of the most decorated multi-sport sportswomen in the Corps. In her 20-year career to date she has competed at Regimental level in countless sports, but has truly flourished as a Corps, Army and UKAF player in Rugby, Netball and Basketball. Cpl Drummond represents the very best of her generation and fully deserves recognition for The RLC Sports Awards Outstanding Achievement category. ... See MoreSee Less