DETAPOs generally - and in the HAC especially

The_Viper said:
You understand, of course, that you would have to start from the very begining again (as even a fully commisioned bloke would).
Does the HAC still impose that rule in these benighted Blairite days of the DETAPO?

The reason I ask is that all sorts of random bods are presenting themselves at central London units I know (ahem!) having been passed by the DETAPO selection machine and told to go find a unit to sponsor them. They arrive complete with "I'm an officer" airs and graces (and expectations), practically demanding a place despite being at the very start of their big adventure and therefore completely unknown quantities.

Going behind the unit's back to be selected as a DETAPO in this way bypasses the usual (reasonably effective) selection system. Some do not realise that this is what they're doing but others plainly do. Sleek and crafty, they know that they are fast-tracking. What they don't realise is that starting out in the ranks would do them good.

In short, is it still open to the HAC and other units which face constant proto-Rupert bombardment to say "try us as a private for a couple of years and then we'll see"? Are units OBLIGED to accept DETAPOs who turn up?
Yes and no. In the absence of official guidelines (for there are none) we have evolved a process whereby either a CO says this guy/girl is good to go or else we put them through our own assessment w/e and advise the receiving unit of our opinions. It works best where a Bn/Regt nominates one single Officer for the OC DETAPO Wing to liaise with.

RCB Briefing is the primary filter and that is only correct and proper as they have the expertise in sifting the numpties out (and the clout to tell COs to wind their necks in)
Reference RCB briefing being the right and proper place - I can see this being a bit of a problem as those who merrily trot of to the briefing assuming that they'll pass and then don't may well get the '**** you then' attitude and be lost to the system entirely. Not to mention the associated loss of face in returning to your sponsor etc etc

The obvious solution would be to spank people through the briefing ASAP before they'd done any real training.

The contrary to that being the more training you've done probably the better you will do at the briefing and subsequent main board.

Sounds like a bit of a catch 22 with no obvious solution.
Good point regarding having experts as the primary filter. Also gets around the classic problem of the "good egg" test, which is that it tends to select people you'd like to have round to your house for a dinner party rather than objectively and on merit.

That said, one unit I know has as many DETAPOs as recruits destined for the ranks, which seems a bit silly.

The larger point is, some of these types who would have been required to go down the OR route first would have made good private soldiers and perhaps gone further. As it stands, there is a higher risk that they'll sack it (either because they find the DETAPO process too burdensome or have to be posted elsewhere in the regiment because there's no room for them).

That's an entirely separate point to the other (hackneyed) one about DETAPOs missing out on their edumication as junior soldiers before their elevation.
Good point Dr_Evil and one that concerns us greatly. Failure rate amongst DEPOs is massive compared to failure rate amongst soldier recruits. Problem being that when a DEPO fails, as several of you have pointed out, he/she tends to leave rather than transfer to the ranks.

I would love to know the solution and welcome all genuine suggestions.
Perhaps you ought to make clear to them from the outset that a career in the ranks is worth pursuing, especially as a TA "antidote" to whatever humdrum graduate drone job they are doing. I'm sure that many of your potential DETAPOs have never given proper thought to what a career in the TA actually involves - or to how much more fun (in terms of what one actually does) being in the ranks really is, especially once you become an NCO, simply because they don't know the true story.

Without putting them off the TA entirely, you need to whack on the head the following elements of what probably draws them to being a commissioned officer:

(i) the idea that officers are necessarily brighter than the blokes (not true, especially in the TA);
(ii) the idea that being an officer in the TA is socially more worthwhile than being in the ranks;
(iii) the idea that being an officer means intellectually more stimulating work; etc., etc., yadda, yadda (shoots self).

In short, your DETAPOs are people who want to join the TA and are probably just as ignorant about it as the rest of the population. They simply need the info to make an informed choice.

Ask them: would you rather lead the recce or debrief the leader?

Finally, it might be worth making an explicit category for people who fail DETAPO but who might (with a lot of work) make it as privates or maybe more. It could well be that their situational awareness or fieldcraft or fitness, or whatever else held them back, might improve with experience.

Edit: Abacus, sorry if I've just posted seems to you to be a load of "heard it all before" wnak. Tell us what other people are suggesting and what you think oversubscribed units should be doing to spread the larval Rupert love.
So for those concerned that 'use them or lose them' is a problem, why not use the HAC system. In managing expectations (each trying each other for size before buying) the HAC is more likely to retain good people in whatever rôle, and identify some unexpected gems who wouldn't have joined to the the Officer thing.

(puts on Bufton Tufton air) Of course, in the Great War an entire Guard was provided by the HAC 3rd (depot) Bn at the Tower where all the ORs were to be commissioned and posted to various units the following day.

And WW2 the OTU was based at Alton Towers .... perhaps the earliest ride is still their 'Death Slide'.
Dr_Evil said:
Edit: Abacus, sorry if I've just posted seems to you to be a load of "heard it all before" wnak.
Nothing to apologise for in that Dr E. Whole post was an excellent contribution.

Biggest problem we face is with the units themselves treating their POs like precious, delicate little flowers. The heard it all before rarely emerges from the ARRSE forums (at least not without instant fightback): it almost always comes from the you-know-what-you-should-do lecture from the visiting CO or higher who has never done it themselves but could write the 20 volume manual on how you need to in order to satisfy him.

In case I sound too self-congratulatory, fact is we made loads of mistakes to begin with and it has taken until our most recent intake before I could really say, look at us, we're getting it right. When the DEPO scheme (re)started 4 years ago the real stars shone out amongst the mass of no-hopers that we kept on because it gave the course critical mass and allowed us to justify the establishment we would need to make the thing work. About a year to 18 months ago, the split was closer to 50/50. Now I can truly say that it is the no-hopers who stand out amongst a course which is 80% star material. (IMHO ;))

And many of them are ARRSE regulars so no-names no pack drill but if you haven't worked out who the course numpty is yet, it's you :lol:
I'd agree with Whiffler. theres a lot to be said for treating both potential TA officers and soldiers the same for the first six months.

When I strolled into the TAC five long years ago I presumed I would be an officer. After all, wasnt I just the type? (forces brat, public school, uni educated, avid Flashman reader!) I cant remember whether I was arrogant enough to mention it at the initial interview, or merely arrogant enough to assume that my rupert like qualities would shine through.

However, I was told that in this unit you had to be a trooper for 12 months. Fair enough I said and cracked on through the process (assuming as above!).

It was a year later that my Troop leader asked me if I was considering Sandhurst, at which point I, after a bit of thought, said no. I was extremely happy being a gentleman trooper and now am very happy being an NCO. The reasons have been partly mentioned above but in various levels of seriousness I’d say the following:

· The camaraderie is better. How many ORs are there in a Troop vs officers? You’re bound to find more people who become your best mates and who you have stuff in common with in the ranks. And, as was pointed out in that FT article the other day, you all communicate in banter anyway so your background doesn’t matter when you put the green kit on.

· You get the more interesting jobs and courses (as per Dr Evil's comment). I joined to soldier and that involves getting my hands (and the rest of me) muddy and getting hands on with kit and people (oo er!). You lose that to a certain extent when you get that pip and move into a more supervisory role.

· You don’t get mess bills until you can afford them!

· There is a much greater change from my daily job to being a squaddie. If I wanted to do admin and organise things I would take my civvie job home at weekends. I want a complete break from that paperwork, hence I joined the TA.

· I enjoy the break from formality that the TA gives me. Maybe it’s just me and despite everything, I’m an uncouth oik, but I like the fact that I can give way to my baser urges when I’m at TA. I have to be nice to senior management all week at work, the last thing I want to do is go to a mess dinner at the weekend and have to entertain some brigadier when I could be in the pub, ogling young ladies and generally behaving badly with the lads.

· And finally, being a trooper or NCO is just as much a challenge as being a young officer. If you have a good hierarchy above you then they should spot your potential and either promote you or give you jobs to do above your pay grade. E.g. in our Troop, Troopers with a bit of nous about them have responsibilities such as signals kit or vehicles. Of course, one could say that it is more of a challenge as you are expected to do things without the clout that that a rank notionally gives you.

As I’ve said, I wouldn’t change my career path now if it was offered to me on a plate and of course it isn’t now. With the new DETAPO scheme the commitment in training time to get your commission is huge. If you want to find out firstly whether you like the TA before committing to that (and possibly failing leaving altogether – as mentioned by Abacus) join as a gentleman trooper, you can always go through that when you have the basic skills and you are sure of what you want to do.

You may find that five years later your mother is still asking you why you aren’t an officer but I can almost guarantee you wont regret it.
And nor should you regret it - a valuable lesson all young subbies should be taught either TA subbies or (perhaps especially) Reg subbies recieving mobilised troops on Ops is that the ranks of the TA are full of soldiers who, had they chosen Military Service as a career would almost certainly have gone to RMAS. When I joined my unit I found myself in charge of Teachers, Company Directors, Senior Managers in all sorts of businesses as well as lots of good, decent, hard-working folks in normal, everyday jobs. In terms of social scale (ooh, get the Jock talking about social scale ;)) I would guess I fitted somewhere in the middle. In terms of accomplishment I was nowhere at that stage and (fortunately) had worked that out for myself.

(Don't you just know there's a but coming?)

But, the most you can do is tell people how fantastic it is to be a Soldier. You are not in a position to make a complete comparison between the two although I suppose we are all a bit guilty of attributing rather more education to our educated guesses than perhaps they deserve.

One of the mistakes we made in the early days was telling people they should join as an Officer because it's much better than being a soldier. And I could list hundreds of reasons why I think that might be the case. But they are no more valid than reasons why Inf or Corps would be better or worse than each other. Simple fact is, the vast majority of us want to make a contribution, we want to put in more than we intend taking out. Some of us can do that better as Officers, some of us can do it better as Soldiers. Perhaps the test for entry should be the good old, "What can you do for your Country?"
My experiences and decisions (re: commission vs weekend squaddie) during my own five years so far in the TA are almost identical to those of Purple_Emperor.
Fair one, Abacus (although I think I picked up a note of condescension in your response). There must be something in this officer lark, as people I know and respect like it and are good at it, although they too occasionally pine for the simpler days in the boys’ bar when you could escape from the clutches of the puzzle palace a bit.

My post was merely an attempt to point out the upside of life in the ranks and not an officer bashing. It was also designed to enter the debate on this whole DETAPO thing.

What is the best way to recruit and retain TA soldiers and officers? As Dr Evil said, the majority of people coming through the gates know nothing about the TA. They head straight for the officer route because they:

a. believe that it is the natural place for them, which in today’s PC world may not be the way they express it, but is probably what they feel deep down.
b. follow the advice given by the TA. The link on the TA website under the question: ‘can I take up a leadership position within the TA?’ goes straight to the officer site. As an NCO one could get quite insulted by that (but one chooses not to, knowing after all, the truth of the matter!).

I would be interested to know whether there was any research done on the old system where you had to join as a soldier first before going for a commission. Was this putting people off joining? If so, were they people who were going for what they perceived as the easy option anyway?

I understand that DETAPOs now have to go through CMSR anyway, why not keep all training standardised across the board to that point and then approach those with the potential to become officers based on their course reports?

Abacus, you point out quite truthfully that without experience of both sides of the officers’ mess threshold, neither of us can give a balanced comparison of OR vs Officer. More crucially, neither can the people coming through the door which, I would argue, contributes to the large drop out rates for DETAPOs rather than them joining the ranks. Becoming a private soldier because they cant or don’t want to achieve the levels of commitment or leadership ability of an officer will be seen by them as an admission of failure whereas it could be seen as a default position for everyone unless raised above it.

And cheers, lawyersquaddie, thought I was the only one for a bit there!
Purple_Emperor said:
Fair one, Abacus (although I think I picked up a note of condescension in your response). There must be something in this officer lark, as people I know and respect like it and are good at it, although they too occasionally pine for the simpler days in the boys’ bar when you could escape from the clutches of the puzzle palace a bit.
P_E, no condescension whatsoever on my part. I cannot make a complete comparison either, although I did serve as soldier before I gained the Commission. To balance your comment above, I would have to say that there must be something in this NCO lark, as people I know and respect like it and are good at it. No humour or dig intended, please accept that as a genuine view.

Do I, "...occasionally pine for the simpler days in the boys’ bar when (I) could escape from the clutches of the puzzle palace a bit?" Delete occassionally, insert frequently and you might be closer to the truth. :lol: I view what we do, in whatever capacity, as Service and if the only sacrifice I need to make for that service is having to rely on an invitation to visit the other messes/clubs then it's a small penalty indeed.

With regard to the general level of rational thought and reasoned argument in this thread (and hopefully without appearing condescending again) can I ask you all to have a look at the Recruitment Ideas sticky thread in Just TA as I'm sure everyone would welcome more of the above in there.

Lots of interesting points raised.

It would always be preferable that each candidate had a couple of years in the ranks before appointment as a TAPO. This source of TAPOs is being used by units in parallel with the Bde-level DETAPO scheme. The fact is that units were not putting forward sufficient people. Do you know that there were just 39 Group A TA men and women commissioned in 2005?

The DETAPO scheme has many critics but there are many more TAPOs than a year ago. There were six London TAPOs in October 2004. There are 50 TAPOs undergoing training for Modules 2 and 3 in October 2005. The DETAPO scheme has produced 18 of these but may well have been responsible for raising the profile of TAPO training and prompting units to put forward their own candidates.

In London DETAPOs are imposed on units only for administration, not for commissioned service. The RTC does not yet have its own staff to take this on. There are quarterly open evenings where units seeking officers can make presentations to the DETAPOs. Unit representatives can invite suitable candidates for visits and interviews. DETAPOs then transfer to that unit once they pass TAMB or on commissioning. The decision to take an applicant rests with the unit’s CO alone.

Incidentally, the HAC continues to send numbers of top-quality TA soldiers to TAPO training and seems unlikely to have to look to the DETAPO scheme for its officers.

SittingDuck makes a good point about TAB and Catch-22. London practice is to send DETAPOs to Westbury as soon as possible after CMS(R). TAB identifies shortfalls that can be worked on during training. It also filters out the no-hopers, something which RTCs have been forbidden to do. Before TAB was introduced, we used to hold back the weakest candidates from TCB to give them the maximum opportunity to develop. These TAPOs took a disproportionate amount of the available DS effort since they lacked the required ability. Eventually they formed a thin veneer of competence when on familiar ground. They would then go to TCB and fail anyway.

Almost all DETAPOs attend a normal TA recruit course and so are used to being treated as soldiers rather than potential officers. One of the benefits of attending TAB straight after CMS(R) is that if they are not recommended, they can easily transfer into a TA unit and straight onto GAP training or CIC as a soldier. None of the London DETAPOs who has completed CMS (R) has yet failed TAB or Module 2 so there has not been a need to encourage them to serve as private soldiers.
Apologies, Abacus. Have taken the paranoid hat off now!

BTW, forgot to say earlier that actually I'm quite impressed with the amount and quality of training that TAPOs do now.
abacus said:
the ranks of the TA are full of soldiers who, had they chosen Military Service as a career would almost certainly have gone to RMAS.
Absolute cr*p.

Your civvy profession bears no resemblance to your potential as an officer.

The only way to prove that you have the ability to be an officer is if you pass out of RMAS (on a regular commissioning course).
Nice first post Verfetcher and so in keeping with a) the tone of the thread generally and b) the implication that you are a Regular Officer.

Just in case you misunderstand the last (as you are clearly determined to misunderstand my earlier post) here is the figure of speech which best describes it:

from the arrsepedia
Verfechter said:
abacus said:
the ranks of the TA are full of soldiers who, had they chosen Military Service as a career would almost certainly have gone to RMAS.
Absolute cr*p.

Your civvy profession bears no resemblance to your potential as an officer.

The only way to prove that you have the ability to be an officer is if you pass out of RMAS (on a regular commissioning course).
Well Verfechter, you certainly didn't read the statement you quoted. And if you are an officer you won't be looking for a decent job when you leave, because you don't see a link between certain civ/mil skills/rôles.

Had I chosen military service as a career (and I did consider it), it would have been via a commission.
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