Beret and badge Sub-Lieutenant Victoria Duffield-Smith is a Reservist at HMS FORWARD, Birmingham’s Royal Naval Reserve unit. Victoria has recently assumed the role of Junior Officer Training Officer, developing the leaders of the future.  As a member of the Amphibious Warfare branch, she has experience of UK Maritime Enforcement Operations and in her civilian employment, she is currently an Inspector with Warwickshire Police, and is the force’s silver commander for the response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Victoria spoke about her role and she shared her insights into how Officer training has helped her to mentor her fellow Reservists, enhance her own leadership qualities, and draw on her transferable skills and experiences during the pandemic.

“The Royal Navy has six values at its core; courage, commitment, discipline, respect, integrity and loyalty.  Whilst immediately applicable to military service, I had underestimated just how valuable the transferable skills would be in the civilian world.

“When things are tough, and they have been tough for all during the pandemic, it is these core values that I fall back on. Having the courage to make brave and effective decisions, the commitment to see those decisions through.  Maintaining the discipline to preserve procedures to protect ourselves and the public.

“Having respect for the transmissibility of the Covid-19 virus, for the pressures on partners, for our colleagues, for ourselves.  Our own integrity, being honest with the public and our workforce, loyalty to the service, doing the right thing – so that we may all be with our friends and families again.

“Officer training within the Royal Navy is a hugely influential development programme.  You find and nurture skills throughout the course of training that may have been inherent, but you had never really paid any great attention to previously.

Sub Lieutenant Duffield-Smith with colleagues holding Armed Forces Day flag“Honing those organisational skills has proven particularly useful outside of the service.  In the Royal Navy, ensuring that you have the right people, correctly briefed, with the right kit, in the right place, at the right time is fundamental to the success of your operation – and the same is true in my civilian life.  Translating those skills across to everyday life has made me more efficient and effective.

“Much of the initial training is focused on the 5% of being an Officer, which involves crisis leadership. The battle responses, the immediate actions and the emergency situation – this is important because it sharpens your abilities rapidly.

“As the training develops you experience the routine 95% of the role; the people development, the parental figure, setting the example.  These blended aspects have allowed me to reflect on my own personal style.  I know that as a result of my Navy training, I am much more of an agile leader in my civilian life and I have a much smoother transition between incident and crisis management, and the long-term development of those in my care.

“In overall reflection, much of my civilian success is thanks to the foundations and teaching of military service.  I am extremely fortunate to have a very supportive employer that is engaging and welcoming of innovation.

“The opportunities for personal development in military service are vast and that has only increased during my time with the Reserves.  The forward basing of our Offshore Patrol Vessels also provides current and future Reservists even broader scope for new experiences.”

As a Royal Naval Reservist, Victoria is one of many individuals from across the UK who form part of our Reserve Forces, which includes the Royal Naval Reserves, the Royal Marines Reserves, the Army Reserve and the Royal Air Force Reserves. The Reserve Forces make up approximately one third of the UK’s Armed Forces, with men and women from all backgrounds training in their spare time to support the Regular Forces, often alongside their civilian careers. To find out more about the Reserve Forces and the kind of transferable skills you could gain visit

HMS FORWARD is the only Royal Naval Reserve unit based in the West Midlands region.   It has over 100 members within the Ship’s company, and shares its location with the Birmingham University Royal Navy Unit and the Royal Marines Reserve Birmingham Detachment.  You can find out more about HMS Forward and Officer Training in the Royal Naval Reserve by visiting their website at:


Published 22/06/2021