Choice of regiments. The importance of fitting in?

Discussion in 'Officers' started by Xoums, Oct 23, 2010.

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  1. This is a question aimed at currently serving officers of all ranks and corps. I am currently in the process of visiting as many regiments and corps as possible before I start RMAS in Jan.

    I am leaning towards the teeth arms however I am not going to disregard other arms on the basis that "the Infantry are the ones that do the real job and the rest are just there to support us...." Furthermore I was told by certain officers that the choice of regiments should be based on several factors not least willingness to go on ops. I understand that going on ops is the ultimate test of any young subaltern but I had the feeling that what I was being told was "if you really want to go on ops then you should choose your regiment accordingly" As much as I want to go on ops and test my skills and do what I will be trained to do. I would not like to go into war with a group of guys I just don't seem to fit in with. It seemed like a rather odd way of choosing my regiment. For me it seemed that the most important factor was how well you got along with the other officers and soldiers.

    My question is as follows, how important is it too feel one would fit in? firstly in the officers mess and secondly with the soldiers?

    If possible I would like to get some different opinions and experiences that some of you might of had in your careers. From what I have been told not much time is given at RMAS to make the decision and everything seems to be rather rushed.

    Thank you in advance for your replies.

    Kindest regards,

  2. Hi Xoums

    January is not far away, so if you haven't already visited a few regiments I expect that you're looking to heavily rely on other sources. ARRSE can be a fairly useful research tool, but is far more heavily used by the old and bold. The Army has changed a great deal since 2003 and listening to the experiences of someone who was attached to the Loamshires in 1984, or left in 1996 is most likely not just to be irrelevant but misleading too. Even those who are currently serving are unlikely to share your personality and strengths - you could chat on this forum to a serving subaltern but easily come away with a misleading idea of how suitable their regiment would be for you.

    Bearing that in mind, if you look in the Regular Officer Recruiting forum you will see ample food for thought - the question has been discussed many times. I am sure that you are aware of the most obvious, and most useful, reccommendation that you should visit as many regiments as possible. Beyond that lies speculation, rumour and highly subjective opinions.

    Probably best for you to do a thorough search of the site before joining one of the existing threads.

    Good luck

  3. Some good advice from Charlie there however if I might add a couple of points:

    While you probably don't know yet how long you intend to remain in the Army, this may influence your choice of arm and regiment/corps. If you are determined to serve only three years and not a day more you may wish to consider which regiments/battalions are going on operations when in the next few years and give this factor a higher weighting in your decision. If you intend serving for longer then you can be assured that at some time during your career at regimental duty your regiment/battalion will deploy and you with it. Bearing in mind of course that the government has announced that it is aiming to withdraw troops from current operations around 2015.

    I would echo the advice above, particularly that January is not far away. You are correct that (unless things have changed significantly since I was at Sandhurst) you will have very little opportunity to look at the multitude of arms and services available. By all means seek the advice of the ARRSE community, however as Charlie rightly points out be aware that some advice may be out of date or just plain incorrect. I would suggest that your best option is to choose a regiment/corps on the basis of potential officer familiarisation visits (fam visits). My advice, for what its worth, is: decide what arm or service you are most interested in and a second choice (therefore do you want to join the Infantry, if so what role? The RAC: Armd or FR?, RA, RE, RLC,.....etc.) Next go on some fam visits and find out if you get on with the officers and soldiers and try to ascertain whether whatever drew you to that arm or service is a reality and hence whether you are still interested. Don't panic if you realise that the reality is not what you expected and that you are no longer interested. Better to find out before you commission!

    In response to your question, I would strongly consider how well you get on with the other officers and the general ethos of the regiment/battalion/corps and I suggest this should be a pretty strong factor in your choice. The bottom line is that you will need to live and work with them both in camp and on operations. I would suggest that this is particularly true in the teeth arms.

    In terms of the teeth arms, my observation is that the RAC regiments have a broadly similar ethos and recruit officers with a similar outlook (not necessarily background). The Infantry tends to be more varied in that while officers in any one particular regiment/battalion tend to be similar to one another while being noticably different from those from another. In addition, clearly the ethos of a regiment will also depend much upon the personality of the Commanding Officer and other key personalities.
  4. Do you not get sponsored to Sandhurst by a Corps/Regiment any more? This used to be the case - a Regiment looked after you up to the doors of RMAS - fam visits, admin'ed you etc. you then arrive at RMAS and the affiliation officially stops. You get the Arms and Services brief at RMAS and decide where you want to go - not necessarily the Regiment that sponsored you.

    I was sponsored REME, but by the time I went to RMAS, knew that wasn't for me and had narrowed it down to RA 1st and R Signals 2nd - I had longer to build up to it all though with UOTC and visits etc.

    If you can get fam visits, this will be the best indicator to how you get on with the other officers (or seem to) but it is a bit sharp by January - your careers office/Recruiting Officer can fix this for you.
  5. Here's a hint: If you're more worried about 'fitting in' than being able to effectively lead your bloodthirsty rabble to an overwhelming victory against the enemy of the day at great personal risk, you'd better stay at home.

    Few Officers in a good unit 'fit in' primarily because they are all mostly mad as hatters and thorough individuals e.g., the best leaders of the best soldiers on earth.

    "Leadership is the practical application of character." - Colonel R. Meinertzhagen, CBE, DSO
  6. This is not good advice for a potential officer. What you seem to be saying is that good officers are not team players. Utter rot. I´ve known a few of these self regarding maverick "mad as a hatter" individuals, and for every 100, 99 are universally hated by their fellow officers and their soldiers alike. Yes, the odd one will win the day (Blair Mayne was a good example), but they do not make properly rounded officers. Whatever the tempo of ops, the army still needs brave officers that can lead a platoon effectively, can get on with his fellow officers and can make the intellectual transition to the staff. Fitting in does not mean that you wear the same shade of salmon pink corduroys. It means that you share a common ethos, the spark of which should appear during visits and at RMAS. This common purpose, complemented by your own original thought, is then nurtured during the first years at regimental duty and can then be applied in any setting during a long and varied career.
  7. Ok you are right maybe I should not worry about fitting into a good unit and aim at joining the AGC that way I can lead a group of ink thirsty pencil pushers to fight back the hordes of Army bureaucracy. Actually **** it based on your advice I just stay home and play out my fantasies on call of duty, grow a beard get fat and tell all my online buddies that I was selected to become an officer but turned the chance down because I fitted in better in my online clan, and god forbid I should want to get along with my fellow officers and soldiers. Thank mate, I almost made the biggest mistake of my life, you are a life saver.

    Out of interest how did you pick your regiment?
  8. Xuoms - as JOrrocks points out, Canader's advice is a bit off mark to say the least.

    I saw your question as being whether you "get on" with your fellow officers in your mess, or whether you get on better with the bunch down the road - hence you should have joined them.

    There is a danger that with so little time you may run into stereotyping of particular Arms and Services - Cav are all toffs with a second income, Paras are all rambo illiterates, Gunners all marry norland nannies, Air Corps all love themselves akin to the RAF (pilots), etc. The problem you have is time - with so little time before you go to Sandhurst, you may have to make a stab in the dark at which Corps/Regiment interests you (you must have an idea) and then see about organising visits to confirm whether you will like the environment or hate the lot of 'em. Another time related danger here is that if you pick infantry then individual Battalions (or even Regiments with their respective Bns) may all have wildly different personalities, so if you say Inf is for you, where do you then look to narrow your choice? Local Bn? Area they're located in, likely tour dates etc?
  9. I wouldn't get chopsy, Xoums. You aren't at RMAS let alone commissioned yet, and you may yet find that the AGC is the place for you.

    Humility is something you are going to have to display stacks of, and in especially large quantities until you've spent a year or completed a tour in whichever Regiment or Corps you find yourself in.

    For what its worth, aim at an arm / service, not a specific battalion. You have remarkably little control over which Bn of an infantry regiment you'll find yourself in and will - in these days of large regiments - not spend your life in it anyway. Besides which, cross posting is gradually reducing the differences between individual battalions. If you come to the conclusion that you're LANCS or YORKS rather than RIFLES, that's enough for now.

    Calm down, phone the Regimental Adjutant of all the capbadges you're interested in to arrange a visit, find the search function on this site and get reading. And don't bite so easily, youth!

  10. I'm afraid you've got it the wrong way round old chap. My regiment picked me, following a suitable period of appropriate physical and other types of selection. I wasn't arrogant enough to think that just because I wanted in, they would have me.

    Needless to say, if I wasn't determined to be a first class officer in the finest regiment in the world they would have binned me in a heartbeat; as I had the opportunity to do later on to a few walts and ******* who thought they could waltz in throught he gate, grab a copy of the Times and put their wellingtons up on the footstool in front of the fire just because they had gone to the right school, or 'daddy' had been in back when the earth was still cooling.

    Bottom line: If you don't know what you want, that's what you'll get.
  11. Sarastro

    Sarastro LE Reviewer Book Reviewer

    The reason people are advising you to consider 'going on ops' is that it is no longer a given. Most soldiers and certainly officers at the moment join with the specific purpose of going on ops. For a while now we have no longer been the Army of the 80's where this was an outside chance, and people joining were relatively happy with that because it meant getting run over by a T-80 in a trench while wearing NBC gear.

    You are starting to get to the point, however, where once again ops aren't guaranteed:

    You are joining RMAS in January 2011.
    You will therefore leave, injury etc notwithstanding, in January 2012.
    Give 3-6 months of Phase 2 training to take you to July 2012.
    Our projected withdrawal from Afghanistan is 2015.
    Therefore that leaves you with 2 1/2 years to get an operational tour.

    The FORM cycle which dictates how units deploy on operations works on a 2 year cycle - i.e. the maximum deployment on ops for a unit is once every 2 years. However, that was balanced for a time when we had commitments to both Iraq and Afghanistan, and was focused around the infantry battalions which made up the bulk of combined arms brigades. Now that is no longer the case, a lot of units are looking at roughly a 3+ year cycle. Some have been removed from the Afghan-deployable order of battle entirely after their current tours, and are going back on functions like Spearhead Lead Element (SLE). Some support functions are key requirements or numerically small, so will deploy more often than the FORM cycle (intelligence, C-IED, ISTAR). Some support functions will have a declining requirement or are large arms, and so will deploy less often than the FORM cycle (logistics, signals).

    Factor into this that we are going to be drawing down troops numbers at some point, and that the role we are doing will change - HERRICK in 2006 was nails all the way through; in 2008 it was still most definitely a combat tour; 2010 is starting to look increasingly like a soft-effects tour interspersed with sporadic attacks. From 2012 onwards, you will be looking at smaller numbers of UK / US troops providing 'partners' to Afghan-led formations in a (hopefully) increasingly benign security situation. This is all subject to the usual winds of fate, but that's how the weather looks at the moment.

    Long story short: in your 2 1/2 years after training, not everyone you commission with is going to get a tour, and it isn't going to look like the YouTube videos anymore. Certainly not everyone is necessarily going to deploy as a formed unit - there will likely be an increasing demand for people going out as individual replacements or in training / mentoring roles. It may well be difficult to get these places as a young, inexperienced subaltern - that will largely depend on the job your arm does, and the attitude of your regiment or battalion chain of command. That is why - if your prime reason for joining is to get out on ops - people are advising that you need to consider your choice of arm carefully. After 2015, smart money is on very few of us going out of the door much for a half-decade at least.

    If Sandhurst is still anything like it has always been, you are unlikely to hear this story much there. You will probably be told that you will all be going out on ops, it's all very warry, and you will mostly need to know how to do a conventional section attack up a ditch (the ditch part is actually true). Nonetheless, the facts are there - not everyone is going to get what they are likely to be promised. Be aware of that, and plan accordingly.
  12. I agree, with you and wont give you a line of BS about how determined and committed I am, thats for me to demonstrate at RMAS and throughout my career. Furthermore, I still have everything to prove and I am clearly not arrogant to the point of thinking that I "deserve" a place in any Regiment, I need and want to prove my suitability both mentally and obviously physically.

    PS: I don't own a pair of Wellingtons but I do read the Times.......

  13. Methinks your attitude may be a block to most regiments, I assume you have completed uni and are about 22 -24 and therefore require little else in education so long as mentally and physically you can cut the mustard. I wonder at what point your arrogance does stop.
  14. what regiment might that be old boy?