By NICK DUKEMay 30, 2013
FORT BENNING, Ga., (May 29, 2013) -- Once every four months, an Officer Candidate School graduate is selected to attend Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in the United Kingdom as part of an exchange program between the U.K. and U.S.
The most recent American Sandhurst graduate, 2nd Lt. Anwar Ross, completed the course in April and was presented with the Overseas Sword after being selected as the top overseas cadet.
Ross has since returned to the U.S., and is currently enrolled in the Infantry Basic Officer Leadership Course as part of A Company, 11th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Battalion, 199th Infantry Brigade.
Now that he has completed the training at Sandhurst, Ross said his experiences there are likely to serve him well as he continues his military career.
"The bonds and relationships I was able to form while over there will be nothing but beneficial to the U.S. military, and my personal contributions to my Soldiers," Ross said.
"I won't only have the expertise and training that I've been endowed with from U.S. military training, but also a whole new set of tools that I can pull out of my bag to use for any situation that may arise in the future."
Ross first became aware of the opportunity to attend Sandhurst near the end of his time in OCS. He decided to pursue the spot in the exchange program, and was selected after passing a series of evaluations and interviews.
Ross arrived at Sandhurst in May 2012, and had to adapt to the British military's way of operating in order to have success.
One of the biggest differences, Ross said, was the increased number of social events he had to attend while at Sandhurst.
"There's quite a bit more events, in terms of balls and dinner evenings that I had to attend," he said.
"It wasn't just to build camaraderie within the unit, but it was an assessment to see how you interacted and engaged in that social setting."
While Ross had to adjust to the British way of life, his fellow cadets were adjusting to being a part of the military.
"About 90 percent of the people arriving at Sandhurst were new to the military, whereas I'd already gone through basic training and OCS, so some of those common things that seemed part and parcel of every day life for me were things that the other guys had to learn from the get go," Ross said. "I have to say I was rather impressed with how quickly they picked up on things."
Ross and his fellow cadets went through 10 months of training split across three terms.
At the end of each term, the Sovereign's Parade is held, which is an event held to mark the passing out of cadets who have completed the commissioning course.
Cadets who have completed their first term of instruction start at the back of the parade, and are moved forward at the conclusion of each term.
When it came time for Ross' class to be at the front of the parade, Ross found himself one step ahead of the rest of his class, as award winners are honored with a spot at the very front.
"Being in the first rank and being able to see the parade and being able to see everybody in the bleachers up front and personal was a sign of achievement after a year that had been long and arduous, yet still fun-filled," Ross said. "To not only be in the front rank with all of my senior class members, but to be one tier forward as part of the three prize winners just gave me a very significant feeling of achievement. I was just happy that I could represent my country in that way."
At the end of his time at Sandhurst, Ross said his biggest takeaway was his increased sense of confidence.
"I think it's enriched my personal confidence in my abilities," Ross said. "There were some very trying and testing exercises that we took part in while I was in the UK. If you're not sure of yourself when you go into those things, you're certainly sure of yourself when you come out of them. A year of training with some very intelligent and capable individuals has reassured me of what I do know, and has pointed out some things that I didn't know, and I was able to polish those things up and refine them so that I can be the best Soldier I can be."
Even though Ross started IBOLC a little over two weeks ago, most of his personal belongings are still in transit from the U.K.
One item he does have, however, is the Overseas Sword.
"The one thing that I brought with me on the plane and haven't let leave my sight since is the sword," Ross said.