Joining the army as an officer

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  • Joining the army as an officer
  • alwillis
    Member

    Just started the process this week, and wondering if anyone has any experiences of getting through the selection process and of the day to day job at the end (obviously very regiment dependent). The thing I have found hardest about the process so far is getting examples of real people- rather than the same quotes which get wheeled out in all the army literature.

    As some background I’m a 22 year old graduate, looking for a career as opposed to a “fill in” job. Keen interest in sport and the outdoors, and a generally outgoing person. My biggest gripe in my current job is the faffing and inefficiency with time and money which some people see as “part of business” but I see as a waste.

    Rockhopper
    Member

    I don’t think you’ll find the Army much different in that respect! The amount of waste I’ve seen is shocking – an example would be at the end of an exercise, we just line up and fire off thousands of blanks (and I do mean thousands) because its easier to do that than to try and book half open boxes back into the armoury. The same goes for pyro, flares etc.

    Premier Icon nickjb
    Subscriber

    My biggest gripe in my current job is the faffing and inefficiency with time and money which some people see as “part of business” but I see as a waste.

    I don’t think you’ll find the army (or probably any big business) any better. Time to set up on your own

    Macavity
    Member

    “My biggest gripe in my current job is the faffing and inefficiency with time and money which some people see as “part of business” but I see as a waste.”

    …ah sarcasm

    willard
    Member

    Alwillis,

    What corps/regiment are you looking to join? Have you had a chance to go on any visits yet?

    mrlebowski
    Member

    The amount of waste I’ve seen is shocking – an example would be at the end of an exercise, we just line up and fire off thousands of blanks (and I do mean thousands) because its easier to do that than to try and book half open boxes back into the armoury. The same goes for pyro, flares etc.

    Totally agree, I remember about 100 blokes lined up on the edge of an airfield in some old Warsaw Pact company doing a mass unload of an immense amount of blank & pyro. It went on for about 15 minutes & we still had sh1t loads left over – IIRC the remainder got dumped in a lake somewhere….

    alwillis
    Member

    At least that kind of waste is fun (and saves admin later).

    My impression of the army is that it is mostly populated by semi-efficient people who like to actually get tasks completed rather than leaving everything as it is until 2 days after a deadline.

    Edit- Willard looking at the Engineers, Signals and possibly Intelligence. None of which allow visits as far as I can tell until passing at least AOSB briefing ๐Ÿ™

    Macavity
    Member

    …more sarcasm.

    creamegg
    Member

    My biggest gripe in my current job is the faffing and inefficiency with time and money which some people see as “part of business” but I see as a waste.

    ha ha you’ll be disappointed!!

    I worked with the army for 2 years in Afghan. The inefficiency and waste of money was shocking! The saying Military Precision may be true for operations, but for infrastructure, logistics, getting stuff built and anything else it’s certainly not

    thegreatape
    Member

    My brother joined the Army, although he got a scholarship during his sixth form and university. In his subsequent 7-8 yrs he seemed to go skiing a lot, and to NI, Iraq and Afghanistan once each. He says he found the admin side of it and ‘babysitting the jocks’ very dull. On the other hand, in several years as an Army officer he has learnt everything there is to learn about life and the world, and consequently has an opinion on everything, which is never wrong. Ever.

    Macavity
    Member

    You obviously have a sense of humour alwillis, but sarcasm does not usually work very well in the armed forces.

    As an initiative test what would you do in this situation;
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-25313387

    alwillis
    Member

    Thanks for the usual mix of helpful comments and general advice.

    Not sure where you are picking up the sarcasm Macavity- I have just been writing my thoughts, and I do appreciate the army is like any other large organisation in many respects, but also quite different in others.

    deft
    Member

    AOSB is split into 2 parts. During the first part they run through a lot of what will be expected of you at the main board, including the fitness tests. As long as you’re not completely duff they’ll ask you to come back (or wait 6/12 months first) for the main board, so if you keep training/preparing before then none of it should come as a surprise (other than the occasional tweed suit).

    I’m not sure how easy it is these days with Capita running the show, but try and do some regimental/corps visits.

    Rockhopper
    Member

    As regards getting the task done, the only thing officers are interested in is impressing the person above them so they get their next promotion. Everyone below them is working for them to achieve that aim.

    grahamg
    Member

    On the other hand, in several years as an Army officer he has learnt everything there is to learn about life and the world, and consequently has an opinion on everything, which is never wrong. Ever.

    Funny, it seems to either bring the best in people or totally the opposite, I’ve known a couple of people that would make you think that the army is just a breeding ground for developing complete arseholes, but conversely I know plenty serving and ex-forces who are the best of people you could hope to meet. I think the former were idiots anyway and entered basic training at 16 and incapable of separating barracks humour from fact.

    Premier Icon ffej
    Subscriber

    To add to the good advice from deft above, for AOSB ensure you’re fit, medically and physically and have a good grasp of current affairs. You’ll talk in groups about various topical issues, you’ll have to give presentation and work through problems which will involve lots of mental arithmetic. Being a ninja at time / distance / speed calculations will be a bonus!
    If Capita are involved, expect to have all your paperwork lost a couple of times and spend lots of time waiting on hold.

    Regards

    Jeff

    TooTall
    Member

    As regards getting the task done, the only thing officers are interested in is impressing the person above them so they get their next promotion. Everyone below them is working for them to achieve that aim.

    For a minority, yes. The same sort of person you’ll find climbing the slippery pole in any large organisation.

    Or were you one of those delightful barrack room lawyers who were ‘the backbone of the military’ and not given the deference you so obviously deserved?

    thegreatape
    Member

    grahamhg – He’s not a bad bloke, far from it, but the transformation from down to earth grammar school boy to MG driving polo playing Sloane was quite remarkable!

    Premier Icon dazh
    Subscriber

    As some background I’m a 22 year old graduate, looking for a career as opposed to a “fill in” job. Keen interest in sport and the outdoors, and a generally outgoing person.

    What about killing people? Serious question. I’m not trying to cause an argument, but I’m always interested in whether people who join the army actually consider this side of it, and how they rationalise it.

    willard
    Member

    If Capita are involved, expect to have all your paperwork lost a couple of times and spend lots of time waiting on hold.

    Ah yes… I recently got a call from Army recruiting. That surprised me really as I thought they were going to offer me another job within the corps. However, it was not to be. They were only following up on my initial application from four+ years ago and well before I got my commission. Bless ’em.

    OP, good choice of careers. Of course, I’m biased…

    Jeff makes a good point about the physical fitness. Really go to town on that if you can as it will make a lot of things easier. The current events point is valid as well. When I went through the interviews for the RAF my current events knowledge was poor and that was mentioned.

    Macavity
    Member

    Have you considered doing something worthwhile?

    http://www.halotrust.org/

    brakes
    Member

    What about killing people? Serious question

    I was all signed up to join the Navy as an officer, hopefully to be a heli pilot/ navigator but then realised that one day I may be asked to kill someone… I couldn’t do that willfully.

    willard
    Member

    Macavity, you could argue that a career as an Army officer (or the Army in general) is not entirely without the possibility of being worthwhile.

    I will say though that the Halo Trust people do do a fantastic job.

    Rockhopper
    Member

    Too Tall – I’ve been a civilian contractor working with the military for the past three years. No axe to grid at all, I just say what I see ๐Ÿ™‚

    alwillis
    Member

    All good points, thankyou! I have thought about killing people yes (I agree it would be naive not to). I would say that I’m not at the extreme “I cant wait to blow peoples heads off” end of the scale, but I have done some reading and appreciate that the way the world works is that at some point you may have to kill someone.

    Premier Icon binners
    Subscriber

    [video]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ucgU2DJlBiw[/video]

    ๐Ÿ˜†

    Premier Icon dazh
    Subscriber

    I was all signed up to join the Navy as an officer, hopefully to be a heli pilot/ navigator but then realised that one day I may be asked told to kill someone… I couldn’t do that willfully.

    FTFY. I’ve never been able to get my head around the willingness of otherwise moral and principled people (excluding any idiot psychopaths) to kill or maim someone they don’t know on the orders of someone else. I know all the reasoning and logic, but it still doesn’t compute in my head. Anyway fair play for backing out. I’m sure many others still join up despite feeling the same.

    kja78
    Member

    Just my tuppence worth regarding your choice of capbadge – I was a Corporal in the Royal Signals, my job was Systems Technician. I cannot understand why anyone would want to be an officer in one of the technical Corps, RSigs, REME or RE. All they do is man-management, they have no technical skill or ability (except those who have come up through the ranks.

    FWIW if you’re set on being an officer, my suggestion would be to go for Infantry or Armoured Corps. Or if you want a technical trade then consider joining the ranks. RSigs techs and some REME trades come with automatic promotion to L/Cpl after trade training and I was a full Corporal less than a year after that.

    Whereabouts in the UK are you? I might be able to put you in touch with people who could give you an idea of what it’s really like as an officer today.

    Macavity
    Member

    Why do you want to join the army?

    You might find something like this more rewarding.
    http://www.raleighinternational.org/what-we-do/raleigh-expeditions/aged-17-24

    nealglover
    Member

    The amount of waste I’ve seen is shocking – an example would be at the end of an exercise, we just line up and fire off thousands of blanks (and I do mean thousands) because its easier to do that than to try and book half open boxes back into the armoury. The same goes for pyro, flares etc.

    Top tip

    Don’t open so many boxes.

    HTH

    thegreatape
    Member

    …at the end of an exercise, we just line up and fire off thousands of blanks

    How you celebrate as a group is your own business, but it’s a good job they’re blanks, that’s all I can say.

    Premier Icon binners
    Subscriber

    I was all signed up to join the Navy as an officer, hopefully to be a heli pilot/ navigator but then realised that one day I may be asked to kill someone… I couldn’t do that wilfully.

    My two best mates are in the forces. Both of them completely mental! They both did the full 22 and went to lots of places you’d rather not go, populated by pychotic nut-jobs you’d rather not meet. As a result of this they’ve both killed quite a few people. They have a fairly philosophical view about this. They only killed people who were actively trying to kill them, or the civilian populations they were trying to protect. You may have heard of the concept of this. they’re called ‘wars’. If you join the forces, they tend to go with the territory ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Scamper
    Member

    As the OP is after a long term career, what length of contract is the Army giving these days to officer’s with all the cut backs? With the RAF I’m sometimes given the impression its quite short term depending on your trade – compensated with champagne and good hotels of course.

    TooTall
    Member

    I cannot understand why anyone would want to be an officer in one of the technical Corps, RSigs, REME or RE. All they do is man-management, they have no technical skill or ability (except those who have come up through the ranks.

    Utter guff and said only as a bitter ex-Cpl could!

    Plenty of corps have very well qualified Officers, who are not ex-rankers, and who do some exceptionally technical work. REME & RE tend to only take on graduate engineers as direct entrant these days. I have friends in both corps who are Fellows of their respective institutes and have spent mny tours putting those brains to use – as well as managing the efforts of their troops.

    With the RAF I’m sometimes given the impression its quite short term depending on your trade

    Nope. The Army even used to have gap year commissions and other very short term options. The RAF normal short service commission is 6 years for a ground branch and 12 for Aircrew.

    ButtonMoon
    Member

    You may also want to take a look at the 2015 pension changes. I predict things will be very different once the new T&C are imposed. Officers are the most effected by the changes.

    wrecker
    Member

    REME & RE tend to only take on graduate engineers as direct entrant these days

    Which is next to useless when clearing a minefield. I know a full colonel in the RE with a degree in Botany!
    kja78 is quite correct in some aspects. It is not the officers job to solve all technical problems or be the best engineer (that’s the staffies job), it is to get the best out of his engineers. This is not a slight on officers at all. Anyone who knows about command and control will know that if the officer has his hands on, he’s generally lost it!

    willard
    Member

    Easy now wrecker, that’s fighting talk!

    Going back to the main purpose of the thread, I would say that there is still a lot of scope for the right person to have a good, rewarding career in the Army, irrespective of the rank they join at. I would say though that one of the most important things you can do is choose the right regiment/corps to join.

    Apply and see how you get on.

    Premier Icon BigDummy
    Subscriber

    They only killed people who were actively trying to kill them, or the civilian populations they were trying to protect.

    An excellent example of the importance of good punctuation, this. ๐Ÿ™‚

    kja78
    Member

    Apologies if I offended you TooTall, I’m not bitter about the fact I wasn’t an officer, if that’s what you mean. Perhaps the REME and RE are different, but in the RSigs all the technical work gets done by the rankers, apart from TOTs who have come up through the ranks.

    Whatever one’s moral and ethical feelings about the armed forces, and mine are significantly different than when I was in my late teens, I can say hand on heart that being in the Army made me a far better person, in terms of confidence, ability to cope with stress and adversity, and it stripped away much of the naivety I had about life.

    I applied for the RAF Reg two years ago and did a site visit; I knew some of the squadron I visited from guiding them out in the Alps.

    Well worth the time doing so. Unfortunately an old running injury from time in the TA dismissed any chance of joining the regs (or TA again, come to that), but serving is an annoying itch I’ve never scratched properly.

    Things I picked up (which included time in the TA, advice from the initial RAF interviews and physios at RAF Honington):

    – Get lots of training in. It makes life easier and prevents injury.
    – If you’re going for an infantry role, continue training during the second and third phase of officer training (this is more applicable to the RAF, but I’m guessing it’s similar at Sandhurst, in that the physical is eased off to give more time in the classroom).
    – Swot up on current affairs and current/recent military operations.
    – Have a target regiment / corps that you’ve researched and be super enthusiastic (including visits) – this is allowed to change.
    – Get more training in.

    I was all signed up to join the Navy as an officer, hopefully to be a heli pilot/ navigator but then realised that one day I may be asked to kill someone… I couldn’t do that willfully.

    I had to ask myself this seriously before joining the TA, as a vegetarian that dislikes violence (yes, the irony hasn’t escaped me ๐Ÿ˜‰ ). What it came down to was this:

    Did I want to kill anyone? No.

    Does the idea of killing someone repulse me? Yes.

    Could I, if it had to be done or my life was under threat, kill someone? Yes.

    But my opinion is very much that you need to be clear on this from the beginning.

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