Once you join RA (as an officer) - do you have to stick to your initial choice of specialisation, such as Air Defence, Guns, Target Acquisition? What are peoples personal favourites? Guns sound most fun, but would like to hear what people think of AD and the rest.
No. Your first posting might be what you want, but there are still slots across the piece that need filling. Most YOs want to go Field, and traditionally the best on the course go to 1 or 3 RHA, although a conscious effort to change that has been enacted over the last 5 years, as the AD community were getting really ticked off at getting the dross. After your first tour, you can ask to do something different. Also consider that if you start as an AD subbie, you will probably go back to command an AD Bty, not a Fd one, regardless of where you were a FOO.
What are peoples personal favourites? Guns sound most fun, but would like to hear what people think of AD and the rest.
I have spent most of my 'career' bouncing in and out of the Field stream. Bags of tours, loads of great courses etc etc. Chums of mine have said they really like AD and Depth, but it's odd how quickly they all seize the chance to be a FOO!!
Whoops missed that bit, can't give you too much advice on that except try not to end up at STA, why ? Becuase quite frankly you will be jobless, STA units are normally staffed but extremely experienced WO and NCO's (bot Senior and junior) and have for many years operated very well with out the interfence of officer types. Go there and you will spend most of your time being confused at exactly what the lads are in fact doing
There are opportunities to change, most will eventually get the chance to be an FOO, but if you can stay field then thats what I advise you to do, as welly said the other disciplines dont have the same amount of fun. Once you have served away from propper gunnery you are more likely to be forced to go back there again.
With Length based Terms of Service (LTOS) most will now do a second tour in a training unit (Pirbright, Harrogate etc) or something similar before cracking a FOO post in the 3rd tour. Note that captains are heavily concentrated in field regiments as most field batteries have at least 4 captains per battery - and AD, STA etc far fewer. Its always fun on the FOO course when non-field background bods beat 'steamies' on the opening test!
Having never been an officer (nor likely to ever be one ) I can't recomend what would be best.
But back in my day serving the guns was as good as been on parade. The amount of nonsense you had to put up with what with the BSM on his rounds and officers dotted about all over life was unbearable.
Life as an OP attached to the tanks was spot on. We even got our crate of ale from the tanky QM (a sin in my old battery to be under the influence of a crate of lager while on exercise) but what the BSM didnt know never hurt us.
Much better to see what your blowing up IMHO than it is to fire the guns.
But then this day and age they probably dont have OP's anymore.
At YOs, you do a General Phase, where you look at everything for about 6 weeks, then you move to Special to trade Trg. On a few YOs courses, they have tended to be field heavy. Doesn't really matter where you go. Can highly recommend Germany for first tour - it's good to be away from UK, you will get tours and the places for field (Gutersloh, Hohne and Osnabruk) are cracking. Germany is what the army should be all about - beer, cheap fast cars and the opportunity to potter around Europe drinking and whoring.
Having been field all my career, I would recommend it whole heartedly. With the LBTS, you will, unless you are very lucky, get to do something else before going to be an FOO. One of my mates has just gone to NZ on exchange for two years to take over from the mad Scotsman.
Not sure about the other disciplines, Air Defence, I'm sure, has a use - think 12 Regt found it on TELIC 1. UAV is an up and coming area, STA isn't really an Officers sport. Depth is different. Not really sure what they do - Newcastle is a long way from the South!
Have a look. If the choice of Regts is small, then you may have to goto somewhere else. Not really a drama as they are all good when you get there. However, try to avoid the Penal Regts though! It's survival of the fittest and only the best get to go to Field regts. Therefore, work hard and play hard. Also the old addage of telling people you are going to a particular Regt works - if it is heard often enough, it comes true.
On a similar note, mate of mine who has a 'beast myself' mentality, will probably be volunteeering for 29, however he wants to know whether or not you can go 4/73 on direct entry as a troopy or do you have to wait for your FOO course? I myself am keeping my fingers crossed for 40Regt if the cav won't have me!
I spent 3 years in 22 RA. A lot of the officers were complete crap: useless fat cnuts who failed every CFT and BFT that they forgot to get a biff chit for. Of the 3 COs I had there, only one was really good (Good old Dave C.....) and two were tossers - one a backstabbing fatherless who only cared about his career, and the other pretended to be Welsh and shafted anyone who didnt support Wales at rugby. Leek eating tosser. A lot of the officers were of poor quality, with a penchant for shagg*ng their female gunners on op tours. It was almost like an RLC mess, with the same slack attitude to integrity.
That said, I had great soldiers, some damn fine NCOs (equal to any I met in the Guns) and got 3 gongs to dangle on my chest to impress foolish girls. Also job as a troop commander in an AD regt is much more fun and easy going than the life of a subbie in a Gun regt.
My second tour was as a FOO in Germany. Good boys and had an absolute blast. It was really easy to learn fire discipline and all that jazz at RSA. Funnily enough I loved the Regt far more than 22RA; the quality of officers and mess life was far better than in 22.
As for future career implications, I would go guns and try and stay there. A posting to an MLRS, STA or AD regt will give you more exposure to Bde and Div HQs in 2 years than most infantry majors have had in their whole life, but in reality this counts for nothing at all-arms career courses: all it does is open your eyes to how much petty politics and ineptitude is tolerated at higher formation.
I would avoid 7RHA and 29RA as a first tour at RD. Their gunnery generally stinks and you will learn nothing but bad drills as a subbie. Too much time in the gym, not enough time on the Guns. Go there on a second posting after an op or two so you have some credibility with the lads. Of the officers I know who have done the course, over 70% turned into complete tubes by trying to suck up to any other badge wearer they met. If you go Cdo, go 148 Bty. They are hard lads who don't appear to spend all their time telling the rest of the army how hard they are.