Engineers or Signals?

Discussion in 'Officers' started by mbwest, Oct 5, 2006.

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  1. Good evening,

    Just looking to recruit some help on which regiment I should join. I am currently booked in to Sandhurst and will join in September 2007 at the age of 21.
    I have been sponsored since 2004 by the Signals and they have always been my first choice, however after recently attending a Royal Engineers visit I would say they are now at least a close second. I consider my strengths, academically, to be computing and mathematics (although I need to brush up on the latter).
    Both regiments interest me for two main reasons: 1. They both appear to contain intelligent soldiers, which I feel I will find more challenging and interesting. 2. They both seem to have a wide variety of choice.
    However I seem to be quite put off by the mine clearing that the Engineers seem so keen on. They both have a good ‘green side’: Airbourne, Commandos and even SAS and obviously both involve lots of technical work.

    So basically I’m hoping someone will be able to sell me one side or the other and help me make my decision.

    I will soon be booking myself a place on an attachment with the Signals and will also try for a second placement with the Engineers.

    Thanks in advance,


    p.s. any suggestions on the best time to join Sandhurst?
  2. There's lot more to being a Royal Engineer than clearing mines. You say that the RE is 'a close second'. If thats how you feel you've got your answer. I'm told that we're the corps of choice actually and very hard to join as an officer. Although knowing some of them I cant see how.
  3. chimera

    chimera LE Moderator

    As a Sapper junior officer you will have more variety, and will probably be more challenged. Sapper field troops will operate independently more often than their signals counterparts, and you will be genuinely "in the field" (as opposed to supporting some sort of headquarters organisation) more often.

    The Sappers are a highly respected part of the Army; and you should get a good balance of field and technical experience, with the opportunity to opt to specialise in either later.

    The soldiers are top quality - work hard, play hard.

    Oh and mine clearing is actually something that the Sappers don't do very often for real, other than those in the EOD regiment. These days "routine" mine clearing tends to be done by commercial civilian companies or NGOs.
  4. Mmm, giant viper...
  5. My apologies if I have offended with my comment that the Engineers are "a close second". I do not mean that they are second best i simply meant that from the information I have been provided with I think the role of a Signals officer would suit me better and it would also be a role I would enjoy more.

    Thanks for your help chimera!

    What would be the main role of the troops I am commanding and what options would I have as a platoon commander and later on in my career?

    Thanks again in advance,

  6. If you join the Signals, you WILL regret it. You'll have a far more worthwhile career in the Royal Engineers
  7. chimera

    chimera LE Moderator

    And when was the last time we actually fired one of those to breach a real minefield?! Certainly didn't use any on TELIC 1.
  8. :crying: :x :crying:
  9. chimera

    chimera LE Moderator


    As a troop commander you could serve in any of the engineer regiments except for Survey, so the world's your oyster. The principle options later in the career are to become a Chartered Civil, Electrical or Mechanical Engineer, to go into RE Survey, or stay in mainstream Field units.
  10. Having spent 15 years in the Royal Engineers I am bound to be biased, but if you are looking for a command job go Sapper, if you want to be more technical (and possibly looking toward a career outside after a few years) go Signals. None of my contempories in the Signals seem to have had has much fun as a Troop Commander as I had. Saying that I now work for one of the leading suppliers of comms to HM Forces!

    Chimera - You're not quite right about serving with Survey units as a Troop Commander, somewhere amongst the two Geographic Squadrons you will normally find a first tour Troop Commander. Unfortunately teh real fun Washington based Survey posts for non-Survey officers have gone.
  11. Hi! You should remember that R Sigs grew out of the Sappers(that might inform your choice of Corps?).That also applies to the RAF(formed initially from RE Balloon Companies via RFC-We're still getting some of the blame).At Sandhurst you will have to pass out high up in the Order of Merit,to secure a place in the Sappers.Once there,the world will be your oyster,and you'll enjoy a close relationship with the teeth arms.
  12. Hungwe, you are correct in your reference to mainstream RE Officers serving in Mil Survey. In my limited time in RE Mil Svy I have found the two mainstream RE Officers I have served under to be frustrated with the Sqn field role. From a SNCO/JNCO perspective Sprs generally are extremely proud to be RE and consider Signals to be a lot of BS, as do many young signalers I have met over the years. If image and swagger is important to you then it has got to be RE!
  13. Unless I'm mistaken, decisions are confirmed months before the end of the course - about halfway through it.

    Of course, to qualify to say this wfb must, I assume, be a very unhappy signaller........

    ......or perhaps, simply, a biased Engr.

    Its your call - you MUST have done visits to both. That will give you a good idea what they do. If you tell each one you are trying to choose between them, they may well make more effort to fete you.

    One simple question is whether you see yourself as more of a mechanical engineer, or an electronic one? Both have their merits. There are hundreds of happy officers in both Corps that will tell you that their corps is the one to go for. You cannot confirm your decision till Sandhurst - by then you will have seen what they do, and just as importantly, met the other guys on your course that are potential Sigs/Engrs; that may influence you as well.
  14. In terms of your performance at RMAS I suggest that your place in the OOM has nothing to do with it. The OOM is irrelevant to your COA process (how does your score on the APWT have anything to do with your suitability per se) notwithstanding it is not published to the Army and is finalised in the last few weks of the course, whereas the COA process finishes (for most people) in the 3rd week of your senior (14 week) term. The only report that RMAS provide on you is your Choice of Arm report which is designed to reflect on your suitability for your choices. This should be largely positive unless you have ignored the advice you have received from the officers at RMAS about where you should go.

    I recommend that you do not make a decision between the two until you are at the end of the Choice of Arm porcess. Run both in parallel (which you are allowed to do). Keep in both corps good books.

    How to tell the difference? Visit both of them as much as you can (as has been said before) before and at RMAS.

    However, if you keep them both giong make sure you will be happy in your '2nd' choice which is where you may end up... each Corps can take as many as 2 OCdts for each commission to their final interview board; likewise you can go to two boards. There are four possibilities;

    You get an offer from both;

    You get an offer from the one you want as 1st choice;

    You get an offer from the one you think of as second choice;

    You get no offer at all.

    1, 2 and 3 are simple difficulties. 4 is bad luck but you can recover from it.

    Because you can only be interviewed by 2 choices then you must make sure you would be happy in either choice.

    All the above is slightly complicated in that you can have a 3rd choice, so long as that 3rd choice is the AAC (wastage and drop out is quite severe).