Notes for Young TEWTISTS

By "T2"
The British Army Review, No. 22, April 1966

The TEWT is a military activity in which all officers and senior NCOs are certain to find themselves engaged at some time during their careers. Indeed, many officers reach high rank and position merely by their skill at TEWTING. Yet, nowhere in the various pamphlets and manuals is there, any comprehensive guide on how to succeed at TEWTS. There is some instruction available on how to arrange and direct, but none on how to perform. After thorough research, stretching over many years, "T2" offers the following notes in lieu of an official pamphlet.

There, are two main types of TEWT. The first is the normal outdoor exercise without troops. The second is held indoors round a cloth model or sand table. In this paper, the basic principles are discussed first, followed by some hints applicable to each type.

The Principles of TEWTING

DS [Directing Staff] must be separated from the Pink [DS Notes]. This can be achieved either physically or psychologically. Physical separation is the most obvious and simplest method. The DS's attention is diverted by one student whilst another removes the Pink from his map board or brief case. Adaptations of this technique are many. Some TEWTISTS favour the removal of the whole briefcase to ensure no spare copy is left; others have arranged a small fire with the Pink as the main combustible.

However, advanced TEWTISTS consider physical removal to be clumsy. The true TEWTIST aims at spiritual removal which is caused by making the, DS lose confidence in the Pink. This is done by relating loudly funny stories reflecting on the tactical competence of the officer who set the exercise, creating an atmosphere in which anything printed must seem hopelessly out of date, or suggesting to the DS that he is so competent an officer as to need no guidance from the author of the Pink. It the author has been to the Staff College, and the DS has not, or vice versa, it is then easy to play the Regimental Officer off against the "Staff-trained careerist".

Another basic technique is to find errors, however minor, in the exercise papers and point these out to the DS. He will usually draw the conclusion that, it the papers are wrong, then the Pink is probably wrong as well.

DS must be made to disagree. Once the DS are arguing amongst themselves the students are given opportunities to shine. This is reasonably easy to achieve since it is probable that the DS solution to any problem is the result of an uneasy compromise worked out after lengthy and querulous discord beforehand. The best way is to flatter the particular DS's own Corps or Regiment by skilled questioning. Examples are:

"Surely, Colonel, the squadron would show much more dash here, and get the tanks over that railway embankment without waiting for a cumbersome infantry assault?"

"But, Sir, no good solid county regiment would abandon its position here just because it was outflanked on both sides and had enemy paratroops in its rear?"

"Wouldn't a really first class battery be able to silence those machine guns, so that an attack over this open ground here would in fact succeed?"

"I would have thought that this just wouldn't be, possible administratively?"

Another way is to wait until after a break, and then tell one DS that another has told his syndicate something quite different. Even if they realise eventually that they have been misquoted, they will probably not be on speaking terms for the rest of the exercise.

Make the best use of your Syndicate. There is seldom any need to study a problem. Study the syndicate instead. There ought in any syndicate to be two useful types The first is the officer who is so keen to air his views that he starts answering the question before it is asked. He, at least, gives you time to think. Second is the splendidly competent, but very modest chap, who will always give the correct answer, but only when directly ordered to speak. Have a quick look at his mapboard which will have the right solution clearly marked on it. The only real difficulty is to identify this type early on in the proceedings and station yourself next to him. The remainder will be ordinary students, who may be, either asleep, answering the wrong question, or daydreaming of last night's companion, but all capable of "cutting" some sort of answer should the necessity arise.

The best way to rise above the average is to imitate the first type during the preliminaries of the exercise, perhaps by pointing out errors in the papers. The DS will mark you down as this sort of officer and mentally decide to ask you nothing until everyone else has had his say. You then relapse into complete silence at every problem until near the end, when having had time to digest your neighbour's notes and the impromptu views of the others, you produce very clearly and concisely the correct answer to the problem. Should the DS ask the competent type to speak ahead of you, the best technique is to put a piece of paper ostentatiously in front of him, accompanied by nudges and whispers, so that it is obvious that this chap is lost without your guidance.

The Lunch Hour is Vital. There is usually an interval for lunch during which students are required to work out the answers to the most difficult problem of the day. It is very bad TEWTING to be seen nervously grabbing a quick sandwich whilst studying map or model. The skilled TEWTIST discovers where the DS are lunching, and joins them. He is seen to be superbly confident and at his ease over a lavish meal. If he has done his preliminary work properly, he will hear the various DS arguing heatedly over the merits of the Pink. To avoid open conflict the DS will almost certainly turn to the next problem in order to patch up some sort of truce. The TEWTIST will then come away from the meal with both the majority solution and the particular variant favoured by his own DS. Having been seen to lunch so well, he will inevitably be asked for his views first, and should then be able to produce so perfect an answer that his TEWTING reputation is made for all time.

Outdoor Techniques

If the exercise has ever been done before (and DS being as idle as anyone else, it probably will have been), make for the nearest hostelry. The Landlord will be able to give you the best answers to all problems. However, beware of finding that this year the exercise has been turned round 180 degrees, and that your mobile bath unit is now directly in the path of a Fantasian tank division.

Always carry an elaborate and expensive looking mapcase with many pockets and chinagraph pencils. This ensures that you are never asked to point out the ground from the map. It helps also to wear a large pair of binoculars round your neck, and have an obvious compass on your belt. You need not know how to use it.

Have, too, a collapsible shooting stick. If asked any unforeseen or awkward question, fall off it and roll down the inevitable hill. By the time you have got back, picked up your mapcase, and apologised profusely, the D8 will either have asked someone else or forgotten the question anyway. The best TEWTISTS walk back up the hill with a pronounced limp, and use their shooting sticks as a support for the rest of the day. This, however, needs practice. Another variant to this technique is to topple the DS off his shooting stick. This is a difficult manoeuvre, and should only be attempted by qualified TEWTISTS (e.g., Camberley students after their third term).

Indoor Techniques

If the ground portrayed on the model is inconvenient to your plan, walk boldly onto the model and make some quick alterations with your heel, whilst pointing elsewhere. If in doubt, it is always safe to say "Of course, one can't really discuss tactics sensibly round a model."

Have a good look at the various symbols available. Cards labelled "Bn Check Pt", "Coy RV", "FUP", "Assy Area", etc, together with pieces showing: what sub-units are likely to be needed, will almost surely give you a clear idea of the expected solution.

When answering a problem, ask another student to lay out the symbols. By watching the expressions of disgust on DS faces, you can judge whether your plan is meeting with approval. If it is obvious you are doing badly, order the other student peremptorily and in a tone which leaves onlookers in no doubt that he is the idiot and not you, to move the symbols about until the DS brighten up a bit.


If you follow the advice given in this paper, you are certain to succeed at TEWTS, and thereby gain rapid advancement in your career. You may, however, find yourself somewhat unpopular with your former contemporaries. If this worries you at all, you are probably temperamentally unsuited for a successful military career, and should either resign forthwith, or reconcile yourself to very slow promotion.

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