Yesterday was the last official day of my in-camp training, and in some ways the most unpleasant day I've ever had in the army. I had to listen to a debrief where my battalion was criticised and critiqued in excruciating detail. In army lingo, I had to sit there for 7 hours while the assessors tore me several new arseholes.
It wasn't an unfair judgement: in many ways, the negative things they told us about the battalion were true, and were things we'd known or guessed at for a long time. It still hurts because this is my battalion, the same unit I've been with since 1996, and I know that we could have, should have, done better. It hurts even more because when we saw the assessment report, it was clear that my company had held up its end of the bargain - we performed the best of the 3 rifle companies. Not that we did extremely well: everyone screwed up, but Charlie company only failed one mission, and did creditably well for every other, but the rest of the battalion did worse, and as a whole the battalion's score was bad. It feels unfair because I know my men put in their best, given their limitations as reservists, and I know that we could have succeeded in our mission had HQ planned them better for us. It disturbed me so much I couldn't stop thinking about it the whole day.
To all the men of Charlie company, I salute you for a job well done in the past 3 weeks. No matter what other people say about the battalion, or of Charlie company, you know in your hearts what you are, and we know that Charlie remains the best company, and I'm grateful for the hard work you've put in for me over the years. I'm going to put aside thinking about this for a while, for my own peace of mind, but it's not over yet - we'll show them what we're made of next time.