Well, I know I'm probably going to get slagged for this, but here goes.

I've been thinking about applying for a commission for about a year or so, and I just have a few questions to ask.

But first, a bit of background.

I'm a R. Sigs corporal with six years served (23 at the moment), I have 10 GCSE's and am currently studying for two A-Levels, with predicted grades of B/B (Psychology and Physics).

I would be looking to either commission into (the right term?) the R. Sigs, or the Int. Corps, and (hopefully) make a full career out of the Army.

I'd rather ask on here than speak to my RCMO about it, as it's really only an idea I'm mulling over at the moment.

Anyway, onto the questions.

i) I'd imagine my first step WOULD be to go through the RCMO and inform him/her that I would like to 'start the ball rolling'. But, having no recommendation that I apply for a commission; are they in their right to give me the royal 'feck off'?

ii) I've been trying to find answers on the Army website, and either I'm being thick (possible) or it's been buried somewhere. What would be the process that I would need to follow?

iii) When do I get to sign out a girlfriend called Cynthia?

Any and all (serious) advice much appreciated.

1. RCMO could be your first point of call, but speaking to your Sqn 2IC might be even better. You will need a recommendation (and ideally the support of) your Sqn OC as a minimum. CO's support would also be good. I don't think that the RCMO can just chin you off, but when commissioning from the ranks I believe that the paperwork requires a recommendation from your immediate chain of command. So RCMO should probably come after your Sqn.

2. Answers are probably not on the Army website, but try Google? The detail is in SOinC(A) PDs. I can't think of the number of the PD - but your RAO will hold them, or if you have access to the RLI, you can download them from the HQ SOINC(A) intranet website.

3. Girlfriend's name - your choice, but if I had my time again find one with massive norks and an unhealthy sexual appetite....

4. Before applying you need to ensure that you really know why you are applying for a commission. Is it something that you really want to do? Or is it something that might be 'fun'? How determined are you to keep working at it even if you get knocked back? There is no guarantee that the RCMO will agree with your aspirations - are you going to let that stop you? You may or may not get a warm reception to start with - from your peers, chain of command etc. Why do you want to be commissioned?

Any other questions either post back here or feel free to PM me if you want specific answers.
Your RCMO can advise you but the interviews must be carried out by tour OC and CO. Remember the RCMO will be LE, so his knowledge of DE requirements and processes will be limited. If you are looking at Commisioning in another Corps you will need to be interviewed by an officer of that Capbadge (Maj/Lt Col). Recommendations on your CR are useful, but as I remember it, not essential. Some Corps run pre-commissioning courses to prepare soldiers for RCB. This is a good idea as there is definitely some gamesmanship involved. The interviews and recommendations at CO level are critical. A non-recommendation is a showstopper.

You must clearly articulate why you want a DE commission as opposed to progressing through the ranks. Research your options, display an understanding of the AToS (aged based ToS) as opposed to the old LToS (length of service based) implications (at your age you should be OK) and brush up on your current affairs and wider knowledge of the Army/Armed Forces. Seek counsel as well from the junior officers who have just graduated from RMAS.

Good Luck!

Having had mates from school who have gone down both routes and picked the DE Offr one myself, I re-iterate the point of asking yourself "Why?"

If as suggested earlier it is because it would be 'fun' then that is the wrong reason. You also need to bear in mind that at the moment you have a job until at least your 22-yr point and you're doing okay as a six year full-screw at the mo. Cream will rise to the top and if you're good you will really earn your commission when you eventually make it.

However, if it turns out that you've made a mistake and actually you make a crap YO then you could find yourself out on your ear after 3-8 years as your short service commission runs out. No job, no pension and a sneaking feeling that you've been conned. This happened to one of my best mates from school - be careful.

Whatever you decide to do, you need to make your chain of command aware. If they think you are a good bloke who is in with a chance then they should start giving you pointers so that you can succeed.

Whatever you decide to do - Good Luck - PM me if you need any further impartial advice.

P.S. Lack of attention to detail can detract from the impact of any application form (as I found out to my cost on my pre-RCB at Blandford) it's R SIGNALS not R.Sigs.


I concur with the advice given here. As someone who has commissioned from the ranks I'd like the offer my spin.

I initially knew that I wanted to be Commissioned. I did a bit of research, like has been suggested to you, and discovered that I needed to be recommended etc. I started thinking about what it would mean to become an Officer and why I wanted to do it. Once I had discovered all of these points I started trying to do it there and then....when I say that I mean I started showing the maturity and the moral and physical courage that I thought were required by Officers. For all intents and purposes I was trying to demonstrate what I thought were the qualities of an Officer.

Very quickly after I started doing this I was spotted by the Platoon Commander. During an interview he asked me where I saw myself in 5 years time....I told him I saw myself sat in his chair asking this same question to one of my soldiers. Suffice to say that he almost fell of his chair and I am sure he was laughing inside. This told him that I was interested in a Commission though. He then told me I needed a list of recommendations as long as my arm and just to crack on with what I was doing.

Approximately a week later, I was walking with the Pl Comd to a meeting somewhere (well he was going to a meeting, I just happened to be walking in that same direction). He said to me "By the way I think you might have a shot at being Commissioned if you're still interested?" I said yes I was and was told to carry on as I was and we'd see what could happen. The Coy Comd and CO took a special interest in me and spoke to me lots about this intent of mine and I very quickly had all the ticks in the right boxes.

RCB Briefing came along and I was given a Cat 2 - PODC pass. This meant I had to spend 3 months at Worthy Down going to London all the time and getting drunk in order to become culturally enlightened. At the end of this course I attempted RCB and passed first time round.

Sandhurst is the key to this whole thing. It's a bloody nightmare and I won't lie to you. As an ex-ranker you will not like the place (well at least I didn't). You will find that the rest of the OCdts are all for themselves....Sandhurst is very competitive. You will recall your basic training where everyone worked for each just doesn't happen like that at Sandhurst. The point of me saying that? You will need to WANT your Commission very badly to get through....lots will leave all throughout the year.

I hope this has helped. As said before...please don't hesitate to PM me if you would like any more assistance.
UlsterFry said:
iii) When do I get to sign out a girlfriend called Cynthia?
I wandered down to the QMs dept the other day to sign out my Labrador and one Cynthia, for the use of. Imagine my shock when the Storeman looked at me with a slightly dubious look on his face before muttering something about officers.... Can't understand it!

(Token flippant comment!)
Just a minor comment from me.

Keep your feet firmly planted on the ground. By which I mean no matter how well things may be going for you on the commissioning front do not let it go to your head.

I say this as I saw two lads trying for a commission. One of them let the entire thing go to his head and was going about as if it was a given that it would happen and spent a lot of time pissing off his old mates. Basically he became much resented by all around him.

The other was very down to earth about it all, and just carried on as normal, but was obviously putting in bags of effort. Result he got a lot of support from his mates, who were all for his going for it. Some of them to the point of deliberatly putting in a bit of effort in order to help him look good in front of the CO.

Having said all that go for it. After all you have nothing to loose.
I put one of my lads through the commissioning process last year, the key is you really need to want it.
Be prepared for more negative attitudes than positives, from all sides.

Your mates will resent you, officers often feel threatened by young lads wanting to encroach on their turf!

I support what others have said, my best advice is find an Officer who you get on well with, Troopy or 2IC and get them to mentor you and help you through the process. But they key is self-motivation, and like Chinese cookery, all the hard work is in the preparation!!!

Go for it mate! Good luck.

PS "pensionpointer" has got it the wrong way around regarding AToS and LToS, a slip of the finger I'm sure. All new officers are granted LToS, old farts like me are on AToS, it essentially refers when you will be eligible for promotion to Major. Under the new scheme, anybody commissioned after 1 Apr 00 has to serve 11yrs before they are eligible for promotion (ante-date seniority is granted for graduates and ex-rankers, you will receive 6 months seniority for each year that you have served), a much better idea.
Under AToS, you were eligible for promotion aged 29/30 (30th yr), some guys were joining RMAS aged 24 and picking up majority after only 6 yrs service, grossly inexperienced and out of their depth.
I for one have taken said path............ 8O

Do you really want to Commission into your old Corps? It's a nightmare. Why not take the opportunity and do something different?

(Although it is fun seeing all those NCO's who gave you a hard time)

Sometimes it is very difficult to switch from NCO to Offr. I echo the points about Sandhurst, very different ethos of backstabbing and selfishness, but a piece of p1ss if you have half a brain.

Make sure it's the right decision before you go for it. It's a path that once taken, one can seldom return.. (with any dignity anyway).

Good Luck Mate. :wink:
im basically in the same boat as the lad above. Being thinking about a commission for a while now and thankfully my oc is aware and is supportive. Unfortunately i havent had any official interviews yet however i have been made aware of the kind of things asked of you..........normally along the lines of the wider army, and what you would find in an edition of the week! the one reason i want to commission is a desire to lead but they could ask me a question along the ines of " whats the difference between leading as a SNCO or an officer?! i mean theres a reason for me wanting to commission but as corny as it sounds its in my guts and i dont think some colonel is going to appreciate that!
Tell it like it is.... They either like it, or not.

If not, then don't try and tell them what you THINK they want to hear... worst thing ever.

Be yourself and if they don't want you, feck 'em.


Good for you!

I think the best first step is to start the ball rolling with your immediate CofC and see what they say. If your Tp and Sqn comd don't rate you at this stage, your intention will be dead in the water unless you can persuade them otherwise.

I have to say: 'Go for it!'. Some of the best officers I've come across have been 'DE' from the ranks and you won't lose out by trying.
I have put a few people on this track - it is not easy and there are a lot of questions to be asked and answered. Firstly, you should let your Troop Sergeant or Troop Commander know that you are thinking about it and that you have, or will soon have, the academic requirements under your belt.

Once they know you are not an academic mong (according to grades at least!) they will/should start the ball rolling along the lines of previous posts - your Sqn OC should take special notice, as eventually will your CO (he must recommend you for Commission).

At each stage, behind the scenes, they will assess whether they think you "have it in you". Sandhurst is not easy, neither is the transition from the ranks to Officer - even as an LE after 22 years! They may try to dissuade you, but if you are determined then this should show them you mean business. The fact you are educating yourself in your own time should be a good combat indicator.

At some point you will be asked where you want to go - if you wish to commission into the R SIGNALS then the R SIGNALS Officer Recruiting dude will speak to you, probably before they send you on Pre-RCB (or whatever it's called now). If you pass that then it is the main board and then Sandhurst!

At each step, whether overt or behind the scenes, you will be assessed as if you were Joe Public making the transition, as well as the implication that once at Sandhurst, if you fall on your face, it is unlikely they will take you back as an NCO (I am pretty sure of this, but not 100%).

If you feel you want/need the extra challenge, can motivate yourself, have the required quals and persona then go for it - surprise your Troopy into backing you.

It will not happen overnight and could take some time (the last soldier I put forward for it took 6+ months to get to the RCB stage), but it isn't as if you hang around while doing it - you will still be doing your day job!

Hope this helps - Good luck!
Once you have you A Levels and have got the ball rolling, go see your local Army Educatin Centre. they can help you brush up your essay writing skills and can help with interview technique and all sorts. PM me if you need contact details for your location.


In reply to UlsterFry's question as the thread has been raised again from back in 2005.

A few short points to your questions. I believe the process for applying is stated in Queen's Regulations and Army Commissioning Regulations (ACRs). The forms and guidance should be accessible on-line through DII and it is relatively straight-forward. I think you need your CO's support but I don't think your RCMO or OC can stop the process. Indeed, one of my colleague at RMAS had only initially applied for a commission purely in order to annoy his OC.

There have been some comments about back-stabbing at Sandhurst. My experience was very different. My platoon was an excellent bunch of people who worked well together throughout the year. There were a few lazy fcukers, but they went back to their own countries at the end of the course, if you see what I mean. You may have a good or bad platoon but that will depend on the mix of people and how they decide to behave towards each other.

As to you status, you will remain a soldier throughout the course at Sandhurst. You will be referred to as an OCDT throughout and I believe will have to sign a disclaimer revoking you rights as an NCO (access to relevant mess, ability to charge others, etc). However, you will retain the same pay and your pay statement will show your soldier rank. On commissioning you will be discharged as a soldier and re-engaged as an officer with a commissioned number. This is a seamless process. If you get to Sandurst but get thrown out you will be RTU'ed to your Corps for employment as a soldier.

As to your choice of Corps, choose very wisely based on reason and not on emotion. Certain Corps require or prefer graduates. Others do not. If you get it right and are up to the competition that your peers present you will be fine. Some ex-rankers get it wrong and leave earlier than if they had remained in the ranks. But then again some graduates also struggle and leave early, or are pushed. It is a competitive and (largely) meritocratic system. If you get to Sandhurst and realise that you will always be in the bottom third of your peers, then RTU yourself.

RMAS is a physically and mentally challenging 44 week course. However, it is only a starting point for an officer's career. Many will go on to far more challenging tasks which require considerable dedication to succeed at.

The above points on procedure are from memory. Some things may have changed.
so if your commisioning from the ranks do you still need a-levels as a minimum? or can you go straight in for it with reccomendation from your CO?......... and im not talking as an LE entry?
Notwithstanding the preceding posts that appear to be in contradiction of this, I know a guy who commissioned from the ranks after 6 years with no CoC recommendations or any academic qualifications whatsoever.

As they say in the commercial; just do it.

PM me if you want any advice on what I, whoops, I mean my friend did to achieve this.
Some good advice on here.

I am amazed at some of the Sandhurst comments though. Frankly, you get extra brownie points for looking after the weaker members of your platoon added to the fact that dropping your fellow cadets in the sh1t is just plain unwise (everything comes back around at some stage).

The DS at Sandhurst tend to be pretty sharp and they don't miss much. If they think you're jack, you'll get binned. Its their job to do the weeding and they do it pretty well from memory.

The course will also be much easier if you stick together.

If you go there as an ex-ranker, you will have an advantage in that you won't have problems dealing with the more basic stuff, eg: bulling everything ad nauseam, drill, skill at arms and all the rest of it. If you help your fellow cadets it will be noted (you might not think so at the time). Its not the Legion, ie: Devil take the hindmost.
I am unsure on the academic question - do rankers need a-levels. I think, but am not 100% sure, that I did put one through the system without. He had the nouse and could have done A-levels, but didn't. I also had a couple that had degrees and pretended not to want "the responsibility" when they joined.

Going outside your chain of command as Dragstrip infers may not be 100% wise - apart from hacking them off and potentially losing their (perhaps valuable) recommendation/backing, you may not be given time to attend the required selection procedures...

I have put maybe 5 or 6 into the commissioning system from the ranks and have only once had a soldier that then had second thoughts and therefore got an "at risk" recommendation from the CO. I am pretty sure that if you are to join from the ranks you SHOULD receive their recommendation as it is all on the forms you need to complete.
Whilst on the PODC some years back, there was one person who did not get the support of his CO but still made it through RCB - it is after all just the opinion of the CO and the selection process is left to the now AOSB.

Best to have the CO vote though, if you end up being boderline at AOSB their (CO) vote could tip the balance in the right direction.

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