Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail

Tactical exercises, combat medical training, firing various weapon systems and putting live rounds down the range. 

Fifty-two weeks of basic training and I now stand to attention in front of my family on my passing out parade (graduation parade). I’ve been taught how to shave, shower and wash my balls correctly. I’ve also received lessons on how to preserve the life of a casualty and how to kill the enemy. There has been a great deal of information to take on board, however, I was taught well and with diligence, I was now ready to join my regiment in order to deploy to hostile environments around the globe.  

Basic training requires a lot of time, effort and hard work from the NCO’s (non-commissioned officers), as it is their duty to prepare you for war. After all, these NCO’s will be sending you forward to your respective regiments, where you will be fighting alongside their friends, against real enemy. It is in everyone’s best interest, including your own, that you are taught and prepared well. 


Jamie in Afghanistan – Photo by Jason P. Howe


Leaving the Armed Forces, however, can feel slightly more independent. It is very much so in your own interest and only in your interest, that you prepare well for “civvy street” (civilian life). I could blame the Army, government and even family for my struggles and failures when I was transitioning from soldier to civilian. The situations and consequences I faced, were down to the decisions that I made. The sooner you can come to terms with this being the main factor of your own results and where you stand now, the sooner you can double down and work on yourself. 

In my opinion (and remember, it is only in my opinion through experience) it is down to you and the steps you take, in order to achieve a successful future and a higher chance of survival in civi street.

“Fail to prepare, prepare to fail”. I’m sure you have heard this on many occasions during your military life, that’s if you have ever served or are currently serving. I believe this to be very pertinent to the transition from soldier to civilian. You prepare well and with diligence in becoming a soldier during basic training, however, like myself and many others, you may fail to prepare for the civilian world in the same manner. I’ve wasted my ELC’s (Enhanced Learning Credits which every soldier is entitled to when leaving the Armed Forces) on various courses that have led to “dead ends”. For example, I attended a course in Covert Surveillance Investigations, which was a great course and I learned a great deal from the course, although, I failed to conduct enough research prior to attending the course. It turned out, this industry and line of work were extremely hard to get into.


Do your research. 


There are many organisations and schemes to help you when leaving the Armed Forces. Research them, ask questions and seek guidance. Make sure you have a solid plan and good knowledge for a strong chance of survival in “civvy street”.


Prior planning and preparation prevent a piss poor performance.

How and why did I fail to prepare for the civilian world?


We’re interested in hearing other Veterans thoughts and experiences, so please feel free to exchange comments below and discuss how you ‘Failed to Prepare’, or maybe you succeeded in preparing for civvy street.

Jamie R Kennedy


Leave a Reply