GRAFENWOEHR, Germany – “I miss my boots,” laughed U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Nathaniel Valentine, an international Officer Cadet with the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS). “The boots that we have in the U.S. Army – I could probably run for miles in those, and I miss the comfort.”
The boots Valentine wears now are worn by the British military, as are his uniform and rifle. And even though he is an American Soldier, for the past year Valentine has trained alongside British Army Officer Cadets in England as an international Officer Cadet with RMAS.
This is because he was selected as part of a special program at the end of his Officer Candidate School to spend one year embedded with British Cadets learning their practices and training with them, just as any British Officer would before commissioning.
“Coming here and seeing the similar doctrine played out in a very different fashion – a lot of the basics needed to be relearned,” said Valentine. “Ultimately, warfighting is done in a similar fashion, but also in very different ways, so it’s been really exciting.”
Upon completion of his nearly year-long training with the British Army at RMAS, Valentine will move on to Infantry Basic Officer Leader Course (IBOLC) at Fort Benning, Georgia, to qualify as an Infantry officer at the platoon level.
The training he receives from the British Army will differentiate him from his fellow U.S. Army officers when he returns, and according to Valentine, it has already changed the way he thinks about leading in the military.
“I feel like I had to let that piece of my garrison self, that garrison Soldier, die off a little bit,” said Valentine. “And that’s left room to learn new things and to just be a bit more hardened. So this year, being here, I think it’s set me up pretty well to go to IBOLC with even more eagerness.”
But being an American isn’t the only thing that sets Valentine apart from his fellow cadets. With 11 years of service in the military, five spent in the Marine Corps and six in the Army, Valentine carries a lot of experience which has helped him in his training.
“I think that bigger than the military expertise I bring, what’s been more beneficial has been the time in the military,” said Valentine. “So more of just showing how to keep a level head during times of pressure – the demeanor, the bearing, the discipline.”
Valentine, along with his fellow RMAS Officer Cadets, came to the Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, to conduct the final training exercise RMAS Officer Cadets go through before commissioning, Exercise Dynamic Victory, Nov. 10-28, 2022.