Now vs Then: Armed Forces Interview

25 May 2023

Drones and nuclear weapons have been scaring high-ranking individuals for quite a while, particularly with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the fear of some nuclear weapons being used. Japan, Italy and UK have recently joined forces to make a new 5th generation fighter with no pilot, as it is flown by AI. Sweden has manufactured a new fighter jet with extraordinary advancements, sending fear across the world. Advances like this will never stop, and the way of countries and their armies will keep evolving and changing.

A lot has changed in our own army within the last 25 years, such as the way we fight, the technology used and the conditions of our soldiers. We asked a former soldier about his time in the army and compared it to research we found about the more recent conditions in the army.

The average UK soldier today is 30 years old and works from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM. The British army states the following:

“In the army, your training starts from day one – and it continues until the day you leave. Our training and development techniques have been honed over decades to help our people operate at peak performance, not just physically, but mentally too. It’s this relentless pursuit of perfection that makes the British army the best in the world.”

The army is not just a career, it’s a lifestyle. Soldiers are pushed mentally and physically.

Upon joining the army, one will partake in a three week training phase. They will learn the skills of discipline, army values and teamwork. They will also learn the warrior ethos, the soldiers’ creed and how to march in formation. Soldiers must make their bed in the morning, and their presentation is inspected by a high-ranking role. Soldiers need to be good with their hands, organised, and have a good memory.

Modern soldiers are given a PRR, a radio for short distances, MTP – multi-terrain pattern – which is their clothing, Body armour called Virtus, which is light but efficient, a Virtus helmet, which is built so night-vision goggles can be added, ration packs, a weapon and various other equipment. In total it costs £17,500.

So how does that compare to 25 years ago? Mr Edward Tenison, former armed forces soldier kindly allowed us to interview him about his service. We asked him the following questions:

  1. What drills did you undergo during training?
  2. What where the food rations like?
  3. How much do you think the technology has changed from when you were there, compared to now?
  4. Did you enjoy your time in the armed forces?
  5. What is your most fond memory, or the memory you think of the most?
  6. Why did you join the army?
  7. Why did you choose the army over the RAF or the Royal Navy?
  8. Did you get homesick at all?
  9. Was it a friendly environment, or was it really strict?
  10. What do you remember about the day you enlisted?

Mr Tenison told us about his basic training, like marching and the military lifestyle: “Standard military training and off stand military training.”

He said he enjoyed the rations, because a hot meal was perfect after a long day of training.

During his time, he had minimal technology, not even a GPS. His weapons were lower quality, and several pieces of kit didn’t exist. Drones did not exist.

He enjoyed his service.

His best memory was marching in a parade at Sandhurst where he loved singing the national anthem in uniform.

He joined the army because his father and grandfather were in the army. That’s also why he chose the army over the RAF or the Royal Navy.

Mr Tenison went to a boarding school. He was used to being away from home and didn’t get homesick.

He said being in the army was like school – strict when doing drills.

He remembers a giant poster of the Queen, to which he pledged allegiance.

By Johnny P and Jo M