November 30, 2015In Royal MarinesBy Sean Lerwill7 Minutes

Joining the Royal Marines is not an easy process. Getting into Day 1 of training is actually quite hard. These days you have to do a PJFT via your local careers office before being sent on a PRMC at the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines. Neither of these steps are a doddle. Both require some time and effort in terms of training and preparation, so shouldn’t be taken lightly. Which brings me onto the point of this blog: why are you joining? Because joining shouldn’t be taken lightly either.

If you are joining on a whim, if you are someone who flits from one hobby to another or one career idea to the next, you won’t make it. If you think the PJFT and the PRMC sound hard, then training will be a real shock. You need to be prepared to sleep less than you thought was humanly possible while being taught information you NEED to remember and recall while looking after yourself and your issued kit often in the wind, rain and complete darkness.

So I’ll ask again, why are you joining?

Don’t get me wrong, the Royal Marines is an incredible life experience, and we all only get one life so you may as well do something great with it and experience things others just don’t get to. You will make friends that are lifelong and the majority of which, due to their shared training and ethos, would help you if you asked for the rest of your life. BUT! The Royal Marines Commandos is not like the movies. You are not going to be trained to be like action heroes from movies. You’ll actually be trained far better, but you will be cold, wet and hungry for the majority or training and during many exercises and operations during your career.

Royal Marines have become highly regarded again in the last couple of decades with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. People once again showing their thanks and recognition, making it an all the more proud thing to do. However, there is obviously the downside to that of death and injury. I had a number of people I worked with in my career both pay the ultimate price and others lose limbs, some multiple. Attending funerals of colleagues and seeing families devastated shows you what you could do to your family. Seeing my friends, in particular one man I went through training with, who have lost limbs, is both extremely inspiring but also heavily thought provoking. Could I have coped if I had lost multiple limbs? I struggle to think I could. Could you?

I am not trying to put anyone off joining the Royal Marines, far from it. I think it was the best decision I’ve made in my life. It will probably remain that. It made me who I am today and opened so many doors and introduced me to so many people I am glad to have met and worked with. I believe any young man who is trained by the Marines whether he stays in or leaves is all the better for it. The Commando Ethos, the Commando way of life. The Royal Marines standards are embedded in you and thus I believe you become a better friend, husband, brother, father, citizen for it. In one of the chapters in my Haynes Royal Marines Fitness Manual, I was asked to write about why people join the Corps. What reasons the various individuals that join state they joined for. I am not going to repeat that here, if you are interested you can grab a copy from the library (or buy one, but I don’t get royalties; the MoD still get all of them so I’m not fishing for sales!) and have a read. What I do think is interesting is that there are many, many different reasons for joining.

It took me until the end of my career to really work out what my reasons for joining were. Maybe it took that long for me to become truly self-aware. If it is hard to be self-aware as a late teen/early twenties young man then I may be wasting my time with this blog! If it isn’t however, I urge you to have a think now about WHY you want to be a Royal Marines Commando. If you can be that honest and self-aware at this early stage, I believe it will pay dividends in your ability to get through training and whatever else your career throws at you. We humans need motivation to complete things. Especially things that are tough or difficult. RM training is likely to be THE most difficult thing you enter into, so knowing WHY it is so important to you to complete it in really important.

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Sit down with a pen and paper and write across the top of the paper, “Why I want to Join the Royal Marines” or “Why I want a Green Beret”. Set a stopwatch going for 5minutes (5mins is a long time as you’ll discover on sentry at 3am on a very wet night in training after a wet and dry training visit to Peter’s Pool!). Write down all the reason YOU want to join that you can think of within 5mins. Put that bit of paper in a drawer or box, or memorise your reasons and burn it (without burning the house down – safety point!). Whenever you doubt your reasons for wanting to join, whenever it gets hard or you have regrets or the “demons” on your shoulders asking you “why are we doing this?”, remember your piece of paper and what being a Royal Marine and wearing a Green Beret means to you.