Alexwalsh's Blog

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The Categories

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Earlier this month I made an appointment at the Leicester Armed Forces Careers Office (AFCO). I wanted to do some research into what sort of skills are useful to demonstrate during application to become an Officer. And so, one early Wednesday morning I arrived at the office a full 20 minutes before the appointment time, before they had even opened for business. Standing there in a suit I rarely wear, ready for an interview. Was I 19 again?  Soon enough, other people turned up and I introduced myself. We were all there to pursue a career in the RAF. There were three potential pilots, an air traffic controller and two others who were going for the Regiment.

Clearly AFCO are set up to handle information seekers like me, and they have a drill that they go through.

Interview > presentation > DVD > Q&A

It all felt a bit special to me though, wide eyed in wonder as I was. I wrote down practically every word of the presentation and came away from the session with a list of action points. These action points represent skills, experience and knowledge that potential Officers should demonstrate.

It was those action points that I referred to when creating categories for this blog. Here they are:


As well as serving in the RAF, I have a ton of other things I want to do and learn. Some of it is a bit far-fetched, like taking part in the Lisbon to Dakhar Rally, some of it less so. My opinion is that a person’s ambition is part of their character, and shows what type of person they are. Even if they never actually get to do it.

Current Affairs

Politics, basically. If I’m going to be a member of an organisation that IS current affairs, then I’ll need to know about some of the things that happen in current affairs. AFCO’s recommended reading is The Week. My current sources are: The Independent, The Guardian, The Telegraph, Reuters, Al-Jazeera and BBC.


The educational requirements for the role I am after. I meet all of these requirements, but one, Maths.


The armed forces get to use a lot of specialised equipment. This will cover everything from the big stuff, like aircraft carriers, to the smaller personal equipment like helmets and boots. I’ll also include IT hardware and software here.

First Hand

This category documents my first hand encounters with the RAF, for example a visit to an airfield or station. This section is also about meeting former, current and potential members of the armed forces.


Getting fit has become a Big Deal in the RAF over the last few years. The Regiment has always expected a very high standard of fitness. I’ll be showing how I meet that level in this section. I’ll not be going into this blind, as the levels of fitness I’ll have to show are clearly defined. In addition, the way to reach that standard is laid out in a programme available through the RAF website.

Health and Vision

Am I healthy? Good teeth? Hair not falling out?


In the same way as ambitions show something about a person, so do interests. I’m into science, sailing, biology, kung-fu and computing.


This is a skill that anyone can learn, not something that a person is born with. This category covers theory and practice of leadership. I’m aware that there is a lot of information available on this subject, and a lot of it is bullshit. This could get smelly.

Me, my skills, my achievements

Have a look at all my swimming certificates! Well, no not really, this category is about who I am, what I can do and what I have done to get there.


NATO, The UN, The Judean Peoples’ Front. There are a lot of organisations that fit into the world. This category is about them. It will cover the history of organisations, what they do, who they employ and what they are currently up to.

Personal Admin

Getting organised, stationary, box files, systems. All the things I’ll need to do to remember what day of the week it is and what I’m meant to be doing


Sometimes Googling for information fails. This is about some of the things I would like to know more about.

RAF Knowledge

Nearly 100 years of activity, loads of equipment, hundreds of roles, thousands of personel. I’ll be getting to grips with what the RAF and the armed forces in general do, how they do it and what equipment they use. This category also includes history of the RAF

Relevant Experience / Transferable Skills

I’m a pretty good driver, and I can type alright. This category is about what skills I have picked up in civilian life that I can demonstrate to be useful.


Working with other people to achieve a defined goal. This is where I put examples of that.

Time, Speed Distance

Time, speed and distance questions form part of the application process. I’ll be improving on these a hell of a lot thanks to my maths studies.


What I’m doing for no other reason than to help out, for free.


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