As you head out of the Kapooka Army Recruit Training Centre (ARTC) four white signs spell out the Army’s four key values: Courage, Initiative, Respect and Teamwork. CIRT.
I know this because I was there on Friday and Sunday to be part of my stepson’s graduation from basic training.
At Friday’s March Out Parade he and his platoon-members literally stood for these values, for almost two hours, in the cold, wet Wagga morning. He was dedicated to upholding these ideals, as well as upholding himself, his gun and his rakish slouch hat.
I’m so glad we were there to witness it.
After successfully enduring 80 difficult days, he is no longer a recruit but a soldier and now approaches something like full human status.
I am not sure how long it will take him to relax – if ever. As far as I can assess, he has been on edge for every minute of every day since 10 May. (There he was on Saturday, with free time and surrounded by his family, looking perplexed: “Nobody is telling me what to do, so I don’t know what to do”.)
It appears to me that the four values work out like this:
- Courage – to face the weight of history, the staggering number of rules, mystifying abbreviations, arbitrary traditions and the seeming limitless number of people who have power over the recruit.
- Initiative – to do only what you’re told and when you’re told to do it.
- Respect – to learn that what you thought was respect was something else altogether.
- Teamwork – to suffer in a group, to accept every one’s weaknesses, to be terrified of a wrong step and to be constantly afraid that you’ll be made to pay for someone else’s mistake.
Our boy has finished and he can not conceal his pride (and possibly amazement) in that achievement. He has new language, new clothes, new habits, a new cohort and a new sense of belonging. He looks in to a new horizon, with the beginning of a career and a future he can almost taste. He takes with him new skills, new questions and a few answers, new reasons for doing what he does and new ways of making choices.
He is now at a new location, commencing Initial Employment Training (IET). I wonder if it will feel different? I am sure we’ll see new aspects of Courage, Initiative, Respect and Teamwork emerging in him over time.
In the drizzle of Sunday morning, as we stood outside the base’s front gate waiting for the ADF bus to take us to chapel, I had plenty of time to consider what list of CIRT values I would choose.
- Comedy, Improv, Repertory and Talk show perhaps. (my dream career)
- Challenging, Impractical, Ratty and Troublesome. (me in the morning)
- Chocolate, Ice-Cream, Rocky Road and Toffee. (some of the foods I like a lot.)
- Champagne, Irish Coffee, Rum Daiquiris and Tia Maria.(drinks I like a lot.)
- Christ, Immortality, Redemption and Truth.(four things I totally believe in.)
- Colossians, Isaiah, Revelation and Timothy. (four books of the Bible that I like.)
How about Care, Integrity, Realness and Trust. I like that list.
I think I’d be useless in the Army.