An Army officer has recalled fitness training via Zoom as among the challenges of starting a military career during a global pandemic.

Covid-19 and lockdowns have dominated the career of Lieutenant Ollie Petersen Buckley, 25, who was commissioned in April 2020, just a month after the first outbreak paralysed the UK.

Such challenges have made the experience of Exercise Olive Grove in Jordan even more enjoyable for the Northamptonshire man.

B Company ofThe Second Battalion The Rifles, deployed to Amman in Jordan, on Ex. OLIVE GROVE, to carry out training exercises with the Jordanian Armed Forces (JAF). The Rifles also sent a female engagement team to conduct military training with the Jordanian Army’s women platoon. The month long training exercises will accumulate in a joint military exercise at the end of the month. (Crown Copyright/PA)

From remote contact over lockdown, he is now among troops working alongside members of the Jordanian Armed Forces using model villages set up in the desert landscape north of Amman.

Members of 2 Rifles along with a number of personnel attached from other battalions, such as Lieutenant Petersen Buckley from 5 Rifles, are taking part in the exercise until the end of March.

He told the PA news agency that while many of his university contemporaries chose usual careers, his attention was caught by the experiences the Army could offer, describing it as a “job like no other”.

However, he said the start of his career was challenging.

“Having commissioned and then done my phase-two training in Brecon throughout Covid and then joined the battalion during Covid as well, it has been quite a unique experience,” he said.

“The initial few months, getting to terms with the normal things that every platoon commander has to deal with, but a lot of it being done over Zoom was an interesting take.

“Arriving at battalion and within a month or two having to do platoon PT (physical training) over Zoom, doing burpees in my bedroom, watching the other guys do theirs was a bit of a strange one, not exactly what I expected, but I feel that Covid has affected everybody in lots of different ways, so just having to do burpees in my bedroom was not the worst.

B Company ofThe Second Battalion The Rifles, deployed to Amman in Jordan, on Ex. OLIVE GROVE, to carry out training exercises with the Jordanian Armed Forces (JAF). The Rifles also sent a female engagement team to conduct military training with the Jordanian Army’s women platoon. The month long training exercises will accumulate in a joint military exercise at the end of the month.Images to remain Crown CopyrightPhoto Credit to Ministry of Defence

“Covid had its impact on personal training, infantry training, all sorts of different things. Trying to maintain that while working from home was quite a challenge, but we’re always adaptable.”

As restrictions lifted in late 2021, Lieutenant Petersen Buckley took part in training in France with the French armed forces before Exercise Olive Grove and is set for Canada later this year.

“At the moment I am just enjoying getting being able to get away and explore different parts of the world,” he said.

With many of the Jordanians officers having also trained at Sandhurst, the UK training facility for officers, and many of them are able to share fond memories of their experience there.

“It’s nice having that shared experience and definitely helps us with our interoperability,” he said.

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