170 (Infrastructure Support) Engineer Group - Reserve Officer Questions

#1
Afternoon,

I am wanting to join the RE as a reserve Officer, I have been told about 170 (Infrastructure Support) Engineer Group by a few people I currently work with (within industry). I was wondering if anyone had any information on what they do beyond the standard info online? Or anyone has been with them in a similar role?

I am a Chartered Civil Engineer (CEng) by trade with a MSc in Civil's and Construction Management currently working as a PM for a midsize rail contractor. I know 170 have specialist areas, such as rail, but I'm not sure if I want to take they day job into this role? Would I be better off doing something different, as in other areas of the RE?

Any comments or info would be welcomed.

Thanks
 
#3
I have already been in contact with them about their work and the application process. I was hoping to get some responses from anyone in a similar position to myself and any other independent views on the set up.

Thanks
 
#4
Depends on many things - I joined reserve because I wanted to broaden my skills in my profession - I was able t use them and that gave me a great sense of value and well being (our team was small and I as a lowly corporal was on a theodolite and had our team major running around with the reflector prism ). The experience helped in various professional interviews and I did lots of other things that weren't connected with my profession whilst with the team and also on numerous courses. I didn't want to sit in a hole in Salisbury Plain for a two week exercise as part of an infantry unit....and I went to Cyprus, Belize, Falklands, Germany etc etc instead.... (no disrespect to Infantry)
 
#5
OK, I've only got 31 years of experience of them (and their predecessor) but I'll give it a shot - bear in mind that I was kicked out, kicking and screaming, 6 years ago because my date of birth didn't conform to requirements, so there may be an update. I'll still use "we" because it's what I'm used to.

It's a Specialist Unit so, according to all the guff, that means you only attend 19 days (15 of which are continuous) Annual Camp (in old money, some fancy term in modern nomenclature) and no midweek training. Ignore that - as well as Annual Camp being of a duration that fits flight availability (ideally 15 days but can vary - in the case of aeroplane break-downs or bad weather, at short notice!), it's unlikely that you'll do just 2 weekends per year - 4 or 5 is probably more realistic and, as an officer, you'll likely do more. It is true that we don't do mid-week evening training.

Your weekend training could be anywhere. 170 recruits nationally so that's where we train at weekends. It tends to be in the Midlands area but Ripon, Lyneham and Chickerell can be thrown into the mix.

Weekends are generally for military training, either MATTs or special-to-arm - or related to Annual Camp.

As specialists, it's generally accepted that you earn your money at Annual Camp, often doing design tasks that the MOD would otherwise have to employ civvy consultants to do. (Note: 170 has vacancies for non-engineers as well). What that task is depends on which Specialist Team (STRE) you join and what is required at the time.

To give a flavour, during the Cold War, we were updating plans to transition to a war (WW3) footing. Later, we were looking to provide support to the UN in peacekeeping and humanitarian roles. Then it was maintaining and improving the military estate.

You've just got to be flexible. Different STsRE have different roles but if push comes to shove, any Team will be expected to muddle through in a discipline that may not necessarily be theirs on the grounds (like Rorke's Drift) because we're here and there's nobody else. I hasten to add that there are safeguards.

170 has attractions that many other units don't have, Annual Camp location being one - Gibraltar, Cyprus, Norway, Kenya, Belize, Italy, Russia, Ascension Island and the Falkland Islands being just a few of the places that some have been visited. You're too late for Hong Kong but who knows, it may come back one day.
 
#6
OK, I've only got 31 years of experience of them (and their predecessor) but I'll give it a shot - bear in mind that I was kicked out, kicking and screaming, 6 years ago because my date of birth didn't conform to requirements, so there may be an update. I'll still use "we" because it's what I'm used to.

It's a Specialist Unit so, according to all the guff, that means you only attend 19 days (15 of which are continuous) Annual Camp (in old money, some fancy term in modern nomenclature) and no midweek training. Ignore that - as well as Annual Camp being of a duration that fits flight availability (ideally 15 days but can vary - in the case of aeroplane break-downs or bad weather, at short notice!), it's unlikely that you'll do just 2 weekends per year - 4 or 5 is probably more realistic and, as an officer, you'll likely do more. It is true that we don't do mid-week evening training.

Your weekend training could be anywhere. 170 recruits nationally so that's where we train at weekends. It tends to be in the Midlands area but Ripon, Lyneham and Chickerell can be thrown into the mix.

Weekends are generally for military training, either MATTs or special-to-arm - or related to Annual Camp.

As specialists, it's generally accepted that you earn your money at Annual Camp, often doing design tasks that the MOD would otherwise have to employ civvy consultants to do. (Note: 170 has vacancies for non-engineers as well). What that task is depends on which Specialist Team (STRE) you join and what is required at the time.

To give a flavour, during the Cold War, we were updating plans to transition to a war (WW3) footing. Later, we were looking to provide support to the UN in peacekeeping and humanitarian roles. Then it was maintaining and improving the military estate.

You've just got to be flexible. Different STsRE have different roles but if push comes to shove, any Team will be expected to muddle through in a discipline that may not necessarily be theirs on the grounds (like Rorke's Drift) because we're here and there's nobody else. I hasten to add that there are safeguards.

170 has attractions that many other units don't have, Annual Camp location being one - Gibraltar, Cyprus, Norway, Kenya, Belize, Italy, Russia, Ascension Island and the Falkland Islands being just a few of the places that some have been visited. You're too late for Hong Kong but who knows, it may come back one day.
Everything he said! It's true. Good fun and added value.
 
#7
The reward is a feeling of achievement. The higher up the ladder you go, the more pressure you come under. You send out your minions to gather information, you peruse that information (when your minions are making merry) to assess what further information they need to obtain the next day. You work to impossible deadlines (contrary to popular opinion , "impossible" does feature in the military dictionary - it's defined as "difficult, adult supervision recommended") and must anticipate every eventuality, selecting one so that your CAD staff can get a three-day head start. You've also got to be respected - for those times when you need to squeeze a little bit more out of your merry band.

It's not easy to be a good officer but if you achieve it, you won't know a better feeling.
 
#8
The reward is a feeling of achievement. The higher up the ladder you go, the more pressure you come under. You send out your minions to gather information, you peruse that information (when your minions are making merry) to assess what further information they need to obtain the next day. You work to impossible deadlines (contrary to popular opinion , "impossible" does feature in the military dictionary - it's defined as "difficult, adult supervision recommended") and must anticipate every eventuality, selecting one so that your CAD staff can get a three-day head start. You've also got to be respected - for those times when you need to squeeze a little bit more out of your merry band.

It's not easy to be a good officer but if you achieve it, you won't know a better feeling.
Everything he said again! It's true.

Good fun and added value - and - not an easy ride by any means. To be honest, if you think you are good at what you do now, you'll be in for a big shock. You have to be bloody good because there is no back up. You can be very much on your own, relying on your own knowledge and resource, more so as you climb the pecking order and you have to know your stuff. Bear in mind you are mixing with people who may know a lot lot more than you about aspects of a given task. (See previous, corporal land surveyor telling major, nuclear and general power station generation engineer, where to hold a prism) . We had a few camps where we were initially treated with.....disdain.....the preconceived expectation was that we would be softy RE draughtsman types with clipboards tripping over our laces and wearing big floppy berets. I'm gad to say Gibraltar Barracks taught us well and we were sappers first and knew we were always under scrutiny. It also meant we had to work way harder at military skills, often with extra courses, because we had such limited time. Our priority was work for the MOD - and once the host units saw we had really decent berets and bearing and could muck with the others and still do a job, the BBQ's were unbelievable. It's harer than you think and it is not doing your day job. Ask some other specialist reserves like medics and mechanics.
 
#9
Everything he said again! It's true.

Good fun and added value - and - not an easy ride by any means. To be honest, if you think you are good at what you do now, you'll be in for a big shock. You have to be bloody good because there is no back up. You can be very much on your own, relying on your own knowledge and resource, more so as you climb the pecking order and you have to know your stuff. Bear in mind you are mixing with people who may know a lot lot more than you about aspects of a given task. (See previous, corporal land surveyor telling major, nuclear and general power station generation engineer, where to hold a prism) . We had a few camps where we were initially treated with.....disdain.....the preconceived expectation was that we would be softy RE draughtsman types with clipboards tripping over our laces and wearing big floppy berets. I'm gad to say Gibraltar Barracks taught us well and we were sappers first and knew we were always under scrutiny. It also meant we had to work way harder at military skills, often with extra courses, because we had such limited time. Our priority was work for the MOD - and once the host units saw we had really decent berets and bearing and could muck with the others and still do a job, the BBQ's were unbelievable. It's harer than you think and it is not doing your day job. Ask some other specialist reserves like medics and mechanics.
Steady on. I failed my first Clk Wks Board because I didn't know that I could get help. First you need to recognise that you need help, then you need to know where you can get help - sometimes it's within your Team, sometimes you need to look farther afield (HQ or even your civvy employer or a manufacturer can usually be contacted by phone or e-mail).

No need to do down your military skills either. 170 do pretty well in comparison with Independent units and even Regulars. We tend to take stuff on board faster than other units. We practice it less but our WHT results are on a par with some of the best. You may think that our infantry skills are a bit weak but that's probably because we ain't infantry - it's a totally different job. They carry on learning infantry when the rest of us learn other trades.
 
#10
Failed first CofW? I took mine as a suited shiney corporal at Minley. Three colonels, backs to the window, sun streaming through so they were almost silhouettes to my squinty eyes. Rambling questions resulting in one asking if i knew the days of cannon fodder were over. Sat outside while they decided. Lots of guffawing and chuckling from the room. Called back in and told I'd past.... first time oh heck!
 
#13
Failed first CofW? I took mine as a suited shiney corporal at Minley. Three colonels, backs to the window, sun streaming through so they were almost silhouettes to my squinty eyes.
Same here but I'd just transferred from the infantry and knew bugger all about Sappering. I later learned that if I'd fallen back on "I don't know, I will find out and come back to you", I might just have winged it. Instead, I gave the civvy answer to the question that I thought they were asking (which wasn't what was written in the RE Pocket Book but which was technically correct).

The next Board was easy. I went on the offensive and started with "I've been doing this job for the last five years and whether I pass or fail this Board, I'll still be doing it". There was just one question (which I countered with "I'd look in TICRE, no point in re-inventing the wheel") and that was that.
 
#14
Same here but I'd just transferred from the infantry and knew bugger all about Sappering. I later learned that if I'd fallen back on "I don't know, I will find out and come back to you", I might just have winged it. Instead, I gave the civvy answer to the question that I thought they were asking (which wasn't what was written in the RE Pocket Book but which was technically correct).

The next Board was easy. I went on the offensive and started with "I've been doing this job for the last five years and whether I pass or fail this Board, I'll still be doing it". There was just one question (which I countered with "I'd look in TICRE, no point in re-inventing the wheel") and that was that.

Mine was various questions about harstandigs and cordoning off EOD then centered around a hypothetical mission where we take casualties, who do I treat? Then funneled to limited resource, officer and sapper wounded, who do I treat? Funneled down to both have same wounds, limited resource, who do I treat? Ah - I treat the officer because he has all the information to get us to the mission so we can complete our task and also the information on rendezvous and how to get back. Mission and main team first. Then what Corporal? Ah well, after the mission we're back to treating whoever has the best chance of surviving which may or may not be the officer! Cue cannon fodder speech and me not budging on my reasoning. Please wait outside corporal and we'll ask you back in shortly. Guffaws, giggles, and murmuring from behind the door, asked in and told with much smirking from the trio that I'd passed and please make sure none of them were never ever on a task that I was involved with.

I do (sometimes) miss those days :salut:
 
#16
Remember joining the AR doesn't mean you have to do your 'day job' you can try other things that may interest you.
As a JR that's true but using civvy skills is the raisin d'etre in 170(V). Sometimes your particular skills aren't needed so you'll pick up some other job. The really good thing about it is that other people's skills rub off on you so as well as learning new stuff all the time, you get a better idea of how everything comes together. e.g. a bridge designer could be tasked with designing a housing estate which entails water, electricity, telecoms, sewerage, gas and so on. Stuff that he doesn't come across in his civvy job. There'll be people in the Team for whom this stuff is part of their daily grind so it's not an impossible task, it just requires the bridge engineer to manage all the different people under his control so that the job gets done in the time available. Do it a few times and you start to appreciate each trade's position on the critical path and learn which questions you need to ask. It's a brilliant way to become well-rounded (and not in an obese way).
 
#17
As a JR that's true but using civvy skills is the raisin d'etre in 170(V). Sometimes your particular skills aren't needed so you'll pick up some other job. The really good thing about it is that other people's skills rub off on you so as well as learning new stuff all the time, you get a better idea of how everything comes together. e.g. a bridge designer could be tasked with designing a housing estate which entails water, electricity, telecoms, sewerage, gas and so on. Stuff that he doesn't come across in his civvy job. There'll be people in the Team for whom this stuff is part of their daily grind so it's not an impossible task, it just requires the bridge engineer to manage all the different people under his control so that the job gets done in the time available. Do it a few times and you start to appreciate each trade's position on the critical path and learn which questions you need to ask. It's a brilliant way to become well-rounded (and not in an obese way).
...what he said (again!)
 

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