Am I daft? / Will I be OK?

#1
Good afternoon all,

I have done a fair bit of reading about on the officer threads here, if I am recovering old ground I apologise.
I am, as so many on here are, looking for a spot of advice.

My situation is as follows: I am a teacher in an excellent school. I am head of my department and also a house master. In a relatively short space of time, I have made a successful career of teaching. I am paid well and get good holidays. I live with my girlfriend and am generally happy. I am 27.

When I left university, I was torn between following a career in teaching or in the army. I had attended the RCB (as was) brief and with a cat 1 was onwards to the main board. I was not wholly sure of my choice though and opted instead to pursue teaching. The reasons for this were not specific, just a young man not being sure what he wanted to do. I also figured that I could explore teaching without having to make as great a commitment.

This decision turned out to work fine and lead me to where I am now. Since deciding not to go to the main board and pursue the army, it (army career) has sat at the back of my mind. With the clock running on my age, I have decided to 'scratch my itch' and re-apply. I have met with an AFCO, have a briefing booked and am in the process of lining up a number of visits.

I am motivated by the chance to really stretch and challenge myself again both physically and mentally. To learn a whole new set of skills, to try and bring to bear what I have learnt in education to a differnt career. I am also aware that teaching would be easy to pick up again after I had spent some time in the army (if the army wanted me).

My questions to you all are:
1. To what extent will my age adversley affect me (would be 28 going into RMAS) either in selection, at RMAS, in choice of arm, on being an older subaltern?
2. Whilst I am keen to investigate all options, I am not yet at the point of resigning - someone somewhere else pointed out the idiom about time spent on recce rarely being wasted. I fully intend to use my visits to gather as much information as possible. However, any thoughts form anyone on avenues that I might want to explore? Options that might be open to me?
3. I would welcome any general advice for someone weighing up the merits of joining with considerable upheaval.

Thanks in advance.
 
#3
Age won't be a problem at RMAS provided you can play the game and keep up with the fit 21 year olds in your platoon;

Age won't be a problem when you arrive at your eventual regiment provided you don't try to patronise people;

I know one contemporary of mine (albeit this was some time ago) who was an accountant who left the City to join the RDGs. His age hasn't held him back. Far from it.
 

Ravers

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#4
Join the TA. Stay in teaching, but still get to do all the decent Army stuff. No brainer really.
 

OpsO

Old-Salt
#5
Ravers said: Join the TA, still get to do all the decent Army stuff???

If this is a wah then I have bitten, being an officer in the TA is poles apart from being an officer in the regular army, being an Army officer is a way of life, whilst living in the mess you live and breath the army.

To answer your questions:

1. Your age will not be an issue, you may even find it an advantage.

2. I don’t think any avenues will be closed to you, look at as many as possible.

3. Only you can answer question 3.
 
#6
Joe.S said:
. I am paid well and get good holidays. I live with my girlfriend and am generally happy..
You can kiss that lot goodbye then ;)

Speak to your local TA unit.

msr
 

Ravers

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#7
OpsO,

I'm not doubting for one minute that life as a regular officer is completely different to being a reservist, however Joe is quite clearly well established and settled in his current job and lifestyle, I am merely pointing out the fact that there are more options available to him, including the TA.

No matter how good or bad forces life may look from the outside, it is a huge life decision to take, especially when it involves taking a large pay cut and moving away from your other half.

I stand by my original statement that with this new 'One Army' concept there is a lot more open to the TA and the opportunities available are increasing all the time. Personally I have done just as much if not more since I left the regular forces.
 
#8
A very critical point will be the capbadge that you go for. You are definitely right in doing your homework before taking the plunge. As a teacher in civvy street, you may find yourself more temperamentally suited to the equivalent trade within the Army, or possibly Int Corps, but don't take my word for it.

At 27 you are still well in the physical bracket for RMAS - I went through the 'hurst with a 27 year old female in my Coy - and she was about top of the middle third in terms of fitness within the Coy as a whole. On that score you should be OK, provided you do your prep correctly.
 
#9
Joe.S said:
Good afternoon all,

I have done a fair bit of reading about on the officer threads here, if I am recovering old ground I apologise.
I am, as so many on here are, looking for a spot of advice.

My situation is as follows: I am a teacher in an excellent school. I am head of my department and also a house master. In a relatively short space of time, I have made a successful career of teaching. I am paid well and get good holidays. I live with my girlfriend and am generally happy. I am 27.

When I left university, I was torn between following a career in teaching or in the army. I had attended the RCB (as was) brief and with a cat 1 was onwards to the main board. I was not wholly sure of my choice though and opted instead to pursue teaching. The reasons for this were not specific, just a young man not being sure what he wanted to do. I also figured that I could explore teaching without having to make as great a commitment.

This decision turned out to work fine and lead me to where I am now. Since deciding not to go to the main board and pursue the army, it (army career) has sat at the back of my mind. With the clock running on my age, I have decided to 'scratch my itch' and re-apply. I have met with an AFCO, have a briefing booked and am in the process of lining up a number of visits.

I am motivated by the chance to really stretch and challenge myself again both physically and mentally. To learn a whole new set of skills, to try and bring to bear what I have learnt in education to a differnt career. I am also aware that teaching would be easy to pick up again after I had spent some time in the army (if the army wanted me).

My questions to you all are:
1. To what extent will my age adversley affect me (would be 28 going into RMAS) either in selection, at RMAS, in choice of arm, on being an older subaltern?
2. Whilst I am keen to investigate all options, I am not yet at the point of resigning - someone somewhere else pointed out the idiom about time spent on recce rarely being wasted. I fully intend to use my visits to gather as much information as possible. However, any thoughts form anyone on avenues that I might want to explore? Options that might be open to me?
3. I would welcome any general advice for someone weighing up the merits of joining with considerable upheaval.

Thanks in advance.
So that's both the good pay and holidays down the tube, then?

And the girlfriend....!

Why on earth would you want to swap what sounds like an idyllic lifestyle in a well-funded school for a life where you will be living a hand-to-mouth existence for several years in an organisation that does not have the support of the Government?! ISTR that the mantra was "Education, Education, Education" rather than "Defence, Defence, Defence".

Litotes

PS. Can I look after your girlfriend once she ditches you? :twisted:
 
B

Brandt

Guest
#10
The only word of advice I would give is to google LTOS or Length Terms of Service. If you go in at 27 and pass out at 28, you will not be able to be promoted to captain until 33, and (even if classed as 'exceptional') to Major at 38. If you want to just do it for a few years until the 'itch is scratched' then fine, but if you were considering a longer-term career you will be significantly older than your peer group, and your promotion prospects will suffer as a result.
 
#11
Brandt said:
The only word of advice I would give is to google LTOS or Length Terms of Service. If you go in at 27 and pass out at 28, you will not be able to be promoted to captain until 33, and (even if classed as 'exceptional') to Major at 38. If you want to just do it for a few years until the 'itch is scratched' then fine, but if you were considering a longer-term career you will be significantly older than your peer group, and your promotion prospects will suffer as a result.
At risk of getting into a slightly pedantic debate (and with the sneaking suspicion that Brandt has at least a vague grasp of reality), doesn't LTOS still take into account the antedate of seniority given to graduates? In that case, our friend would Commission at 28, Lt a year later, and to Capt eighteen months after that. That would mean his 'first look' at a Majority at around 35 (which is still almost dead, though not quite fossilized).

I agree that starting early is for the best if you have ambitions to the General Staff, but if poking bayonets into HM's enemies is what you're after, then it's quite fashionable at the moment.
 
#12
I am going through the AOSB process (main board August) albeit much much younger (19). There was a chap at my 1st mainboard (long story short I buggered up) who was 28 and just coming out of the Royal Marines. The only disadvantage he faced was that infantry regiments prefer to have younger 2nd Lt's (apparently). On the plus side for him was 8 years previous experience in the forces. I never found out how he did.

the whole experience was a bit strange particularly because he was the oldest person there and I was the youngest, everyone else was 21, 22 or 23 with university degrees (a couple with docterates).
 
#13
Joe.S the other thing you need to consider is what you will do if you stay within the teaching profession. By your own words you are in a good school, already head of your own department and a house master. Where do you see you teaching career going? Unless you move out of the classroom into school management there seams to be little reason to move schools and you could end up staying in the same school for most of your working life.

The rules for eligibility for promotion to Captain and Major are governed by your Commissioning Date (CD): For Captain it is CD + 5 Years Reckonable Service (RS) and Major is CD + 11 Years (RS). Your first degree will count towards your RS and for a 3 year degree you get 3 years RS.

Up until last year there was an age filter applied in selecting Lt Cols for command positions. Basically if you joined RMAS when you where 28 or 29 the LToS system meant that you could never get a Regular Command. As a result career managers and appointment boards would be less likely to assign you the perceived ‘crunchy’ Majors jobs that would set you up with the right profile to have a shot at becoming a CO. This was changed last year and there are no age filters applied anymore. In theory it is now a level playing field and it does not matter how old you are when you join.
 
#14
There seems to be a common view that teaching is better paid than commissioned service in the army. That may be true, but is not necessarily so. You will need to do your research. I spent 5 minutes on google (which I accept is not the most authoritative piece of research!) and my superficial investigation seems to suggest that a captain would be on £35,000 to £42,000 (ish) whereas an experienced teacher would get £34,000 to £40,000 (plus bolt-ons for additional responsibilities.

Yes, you will take a pay cut initially, but the two careers do not seem to be a million miles apart in terms of money. If you are willing to live with a degree of financial loss, then there are other more fundamental questions to answer:

How badly do I want to do this? If I do not do it, is that something I will regret in years to come?
What if it goes t*ts up? Can I get back into teaching (I suggest that the teaching profession would have you back in a flash)

How important is my relationship with my girlfriend? What does my girlfriend think? How committed are we to each other? Where do we stand on the marriage/lifelong relationship/babies/family thing?

If you decide that you want to do it, your gf will support you (or it doesn't matter whether she does or not), and you have researched the financial angle and consider that it is doable, then you need to consider whether you are willing and able to undergo the whole business of Sandhurst, back to basics, fitness, competing with 21 year olds, being shouted at thing, AND, the new career and starting at the bottom of the pile again thing.

If you decide after all that to go for it then good luck and let us know how it goes!
 
#15
schweik said:
How important is my relationship with my girlfriend? What does my girlfriend think? How committed are we to each other? Where do we stand on the marriage/lifelong relationship/babies/family thing?
This is a big one. At the moment you are stable in one place. As soon as you join up then you will be off to Sandhurst and separated for a time. After that you will be sent to a destination that is unlikely to be close to where you are now. Will she follow you? Would she be happy to be an Army wife? Does she have a stable job and wishes to keep it? If the latter and you go to say, Germany, then how often will you see each other? Often enough to keep the relationship afloat?

How important is she? You may actually want to keep her happy and so as mentioned perhaps the TA is an option. Or maybe a short-service stint followed by a TA career may give you the best of both worlds. If she can see a term to this and then a return to 'normality' then perhaps it might be easier on her.

Plus the fact that your attitudes and character will undergo modifications in the Green Machine, this will change the way she sees you, and the way you see her.

Just some of the questions you must talk over with her and your conscience. Hope you sort it out and good luck.

Look on a bright side, you cannot use automatic weapons in the classroom, you can against the little rascals you may be facing.
 
#16
Joe.S

I'm 26 and in the middle of the AOSB process. I am currently working as an engineering consultant.

Its not really for anyone other than yourself to decide if you want to join. I would suggest going on a couple of fam visits before you make your mind up.

Regarding your concerns about your age, dont worry. The Army set the age limits for a reason, if you are within those then its fine. There will be people older and younger than you, I found that at my brief, and the young ones tend to be a bit over the top and have less experience in how to interact in a social environment. Being slightly older does have its advantages.

Fitness wise, you are only as young as you feel!

Hope this helps.

G82
 
#17
Afternoon all,

thanks for all of the above advice. All very useful. There are also some good points made which at the risk of this being another wordy post, I'd like to address.

The general feeling with regards age is positive. If I am up to the task fitness wise then there shouldn't be a problem. Good news.

The TA. This had crossed my mind but I'll confess to not having considered it in too much depth or really having investigated it. My reasons for this were that I feel if I am going to join the army, I will do it properly, immerse myself in the lifestyle and accept the consequences ofmy decision.

RatsCoffee - when I investigated the army post university, it was with a view to joining the AGC to be a part of the ETS. Having taught, I am not sure that I would be doing something radically different. Sure, pupils, subject matter and location change but the essential teaching skills remain the same. I also note that part of their YO programme is to do a PGCE course, something that I have already done. You also mention the Int Corps, I am intending on trying to arrange a visit to them.

Brandt / Exrivo / bluebells - I had considered the issues associated with promotion but I do not have any fixed ideas or aspirations about general staff. I was of the mind to 'suck it and see.' I joined the teaching profession in the first instance to teach. I intend to join the army to soldier (or something approximating that!) and wait and see how it is and how much my ambitions grow as a result. I would bee most interested if someone could offer a link to come clear info about time served and promotions etc. Would I recieve any recognition form my civilian teaching? I had thought similar things about my length of service - seek a SSC in the first place and then see how it goes. It is also the case that I am confident that I could reume teaching career without too much trouble. In fact, I think some schools would look on time spent in the army as time well spent. The pastoral care of childrem and their development and welfare (things I do at the moment) have some clear cross over use to the care of any men which might be placed under my command. The same would be true again if I left the army, using experience gained to help in teaching.

Schweik - the pay is not really an issue. I did not become a teacher to make a million and it would also be the case with the army. The gap would be greatest during the year at RMAS and not too great thereafter.

Schweik / Dwarf, with regards Mrs Joe, I am under no illusion that it would be a big change for us. I have done plenty of reading and it is not exactly a cheerful outlook. Although not all doom and gloom. We have discussed it rationally and the plan would be for us to marry at a convenient point once I have comissioned. I am underthe impresion that it is the done thing to live in for at least a year once you join your regiment. Mrs Joe and I would have to suck this up and deal with it. She is a primary school teacher so her work is reasonably portable. She is also prepared to join me somewhere other than London. This is our not exactly romantic but pragmatic take on things. I would certianly be interested in whether people think that this is managable or if it is pure fantasy doomed to faliure.

I hope this makes things alittle clearer. Any further comments most appreciated.

Joe
 

cpunk

LE
Moderator
#18
Late 20s is not 'too old' to start out as a regular officer but I wonder whether you would enjoy it as much as you would if you had joined at 22/23? You do appear to have forged a a happy and fulfilling existence as a teacher and you might find it difficult to go back to the beginning again, with professional contemporaries who may be as much as 10 years younger than you. My advice, for what it is worth, would be to join the TA as a potential officer and 'scratch your itch' through that route. Age is much less of an issue and you won't throw away everything that you have achieved in your teaching career.
 

The_Duke

LE
Moderator
#19
Joe.S,

I started my period of FTRS service from the TA to a regular Para Bn as a 29 year old 2Lt, turning 30 shortly after joining. I only did 3 weeks at Sandhurst, so will leave the experiences of being there a little older than usual for others to comment on.

I was older than several of the Company Commanders I worked for, and much closer to the ages of my Pl Sgts than was normal for a 2Lt.

In many ways, it worked for me. I had the benefit of age and real life experience. When discussing isses of money, debt etc with soldiers, I had definately been there and done that. I also had a greater degree of "common ground" with the NCOs than some of the other new 2Lts, which also helped. The ability to deal with, and manage people, in ways which are acceptable in a civilian working environment is easily adapted to suit working within the military environment to reinforce/complement the more usual discipline system.

I jumped headfirst into mess life, and lived in for several years before taking the leap into married life and married quarters. I can honestly admit that I loved mess life, but also that at times I fell between two stools. I was bit too "sensible" for the typical 2Lt, but not yet ready to sit with the OCs discussing the finer points of doctrine (as if!). I ended up spending most of my time with the Captains - senior in rank, closer in age.

The downsides?

The existing relationship fell apart, but would probably have done so anyway. Moving from the independance of your own place and a well paid job to a single room with a dripping tap and £52.50 per day took a bit of getting used to. I also have a collection of nice letters telling me that I was too old for my rank, and that my career options for transferring to regular service were therefore limited within the Inf (as discussed above). I am now back in the TA, and getting letters telling me that they want me fill gaps caused by a shortage of Regular officers. No-one ever said it was sensible!

I also found it difficult at times having to bite my tongue when a more "senior" officer was spouting absolute bollacks or being patronising, but I doubt that is a unique experience

Do i regret it? Not for a minute. I am back in the civillian career I left, but several years behind in pay and seniority. It is the price I chose to accept for the experiences and fun whilst serving.

Whether that is the right choice for you is one only you can make.
 
#20
Joe.S said:
Afternoon all...I would certianly be interested in whether people think that this is managable or if it is pure fantasy doomed to faliure...

Joe
It's certainly managable, and you appear to have done your homework well (indulge me - I never got to patronise my own Housemaster!). Whether or not Mrs Joe puts up with it is, of course, your business, but neither of you seem to have unrealistic expectations. Quite a lot come to RMAS in very similar positions these days, and survive without too much angst. Those relationships that fail tend either to have been on shaky ground in the first place, or do so because one partner or other were unprepared for the big shift that it is. There are married cadets, almost married cadets, and even divorced ones - and plenty of variations in between.

As to a return to civilian life - well, you'll understand rather better than most of us how that side works, but I doubt that a housemaster going off to war and then returning, bemedalled and glorious, a few years hence will be considered unemployable.
 
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