An American who knows nothing but is very interested

#1
Hello! I have been having a couple of questions that are really bothering me about the British army, just out of sheer curiousity, since I'm engaged to a US soldier who goes on and on about the army and I'm kind of interested to see how our brothers and sisters on the other side of the Atlantic have it. There are a few questions, so please bear with me.

1) How long is the usual tour for one soldier? How many months?
2) How long is the break between one tour and another?
3) I understand that many soldier in Canada/Germany etc. What do you exactly do there?
4) After you officially become a soldier, do you undergo any further training, say after your first or second tour, for example?
5) How long does it take for one to rise up the ranks? Like from Major General to Lieutenant General to General etc. I know there's no set time, but what usually determines that?
6) Finally, and this has really been bothering me. I know there's the Irish Guard and the Scots Guard..etc. Do you have to actually be IRISH to join the IRISH Guard and SCOTTISH to join the SCOTS Guard?


Muchly appreciated. I hope I'm not embarrassing myself and asking in the wrong place.
Karen
 
#2
I will start the ball rolling before others chip in.
1) 6 months. This can change for operational reasons or if you are in a critical job/trade.
2) Depends on the Army's commitments, your regiment/corps and where you are posted to, and .... luck!
3) There is a large live firing exercise area in Canada that the British Army uses to train formations. Germany - in part remnants from WWII, Cold War and now because they are in a 'Strategic' location - but most importantly - we haven't got room for them in the UK and Germany does not want them to go as they support the local economies.
4) Lots of different training throughout a soldiers career, probably much in thesame way as the US Army.
5) Impossible to quantify! Our rank system is different from your (for instance your Sgt is equivalent to our Lance Corporal). Promotion is based on merit, time served and age.
6) You do not have to be Irish or Scottish to join these Regiments, but most of their soldiers are. Many of the officers are English with spurious links to Scotland, Ireland or Wales.

Hope this helps for a starter!
 
#3
Very interesting! Thanks so much. How do the soldiers help with the economies in Germany, for example?

And also, what are the highest ranks in the British Army as compared to the US of A? Like what would a Major General in the US be in the UK?

How do awards/knighting etc change the status of a soldier and/or officer in terms of general "respect" if you know what I mean.

Sorry to be asking so many questions, but this is so fascinating for me.
 
#4
CarrotGirl said:
1) 3 or 6 months, sometimes longer.
2) A couple of infantry units have deployed to Iraq twice within one year, but usually for shorter tours.
3) I can't add anything to Gonzo's answer.
4) Your future husband will attend extra courses, whether for promotion (Sgt's course) or personal gain (airborne or special forces qualifications). The same happens in the British Army.
5) Imagine roughly that a career could last up to 20 years to get up to a medium-high rank (like Colonel, or Command Sergeant Major). Anything longer, and you're looking at a high rank. Anything less than 10, and you'd leave with a low-medium rank.
6) To add to what Gonzo said, in some "ethnic" regiments, officers must under all circumstances be English but pretend they belong to Scotland/Wales/Ireland because their grandfather made love to a local goat while on holiday there. Also, if English people do become soldiers in these units, they tend to face a tough time and be quite isolated. Nevertheless, I had a Company Sergeant Major who was English (though no one liked him :)).

British and American soldiers contribute to Germany's economy by a) spending all their money there, and b) employing locals on their bases.

The officer rank structures for the Army are almost identical. So, a Major General is the same on both sides of the Atlantic. Enlisted ranks are different, so a specialist with you is roughly a lance-corporal with us. A Sgt./Staff Sgt. is a Corporal. A Sergeant First Class is a Sergeant, and so on. There are rank comparison charts out there on the internet.

Awards to enlisted soldiers and junior officers tend to be held in the highest regard. Any Colonel who gets a Silver Star (equivalent) or an MBE on either side of the Atlantic won't get that much attention, especially if he seems to have gotten it for merely being there. Usually though, they get something like an MBE in Britain for working their bums off for 6 months planning and taking care of their troops. Of course, if someone high-ranking wins an award for actual bravery in battle, he is often even more lionised, like Lt. Col. "H" Jones in the Falklands War.
 
#6
well as we've got over 20 000 troops there they spend money!! Also we pay the gov't somthing for us being there.

The ranks are the same for officers - but we tend to spend longer in each rank so are more experienced. Your Junior ranks are so complex that I haven't understood them yet - you have loads of Sergeant ranks so they don't compare directly, you do in general, and I am prepared to be corrected on this, have higher ranks doing jobs we give to our Corporals or even Lance Corporals

I don't mean to be condescending but there arne't knghts wandering around this sceptered isle willy nilly. This is a common mis-conception by our American friends, but in the army only Generals tend to be knighted. There are some titled officers but your respect is earned by your ability to do your job.

If you get a bravery medal or something like that then obviously you will get a lot more respect, but it doesn't automatically mean you are brilliant at your job/trade - just that you showed exemplary courage at a point in your life.

Hope this helps - and I really didn't mean to be rude.
 
#7
Theloggie makes several very valuable points. If I ever receive a bravery point, people will still hate me because I'm a dumb cnut, I'd just be a dumb cnut who got lucky. On the other hand, "H" Jones from what I gather was neither particularly popular nor particularly competent, but people wouldn't dare say a word against him now (it's different if you're dead :)).
 
#8
cheesypoptart said:
Theloggie makes several very valuable points.
and has a cracking avatar!!
 
#10
CarrotGirl said:
Hello! I have been having a couple of questions that are really bothering me about the British army, just out of sheer curiousity, since I'm engaged to a US soldier who goes on and on about the army and I'm kind of interested to see how our brothers and sisters on the other side of the Atlantic have it. There are a few questions, so please bear with me.

1) How long is the usual tour for one soldier? How many months?
2) How long is the break between one tour and another?
3) I understand that many soldier in Canada/Germany etc. What do you exactly do there?
4) After you officially become a soldier, do you undergo any further training, say after your first or second tour, for example?
5) How long does it take for one to rise up the ranks? Like from Major General to Lieutenant General to General etc. I know there's no set time, but what usually determines that?
6) Finally, and this has really been bothering me. I know there's the Irish Guard and the Scots Guard..etc. Do you have to actually be IRISH to join the IRISH Guard and SCOTTISH to join the SCOTS Guard?


Muchly appreciated. I hope I'm not embarrassing myself and asking in the wrong place.
Karen
This is a good sign! :)

The modern army isn't quite so geographically based as it was but regiments like those you mention still do have a geographical bias in their recruiting. If only because Uncle/Father/Grandpappy served in it. The oft unspoken logic of this is that it piggybacks regimental identity and morale on "tribal" identity. In modern socially mobile societies this probably doesn't resonate quite so much as it did in times past and the many amalgamations that similar but less explicitly named or famous regiments have suffered has been to the countires detriment.

The only example that I know of from American history where geography has been tied with unit identity so implicitly is the units raised for the war between the states. Viewed in this light I don't think it's any surprise that this is still the most costly war in terms of American lives.
 

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