Is 25 too old for a reasonable chance of an Infantry commission?

I’m 24, turning 25 in March 2013.

Having spoken to a ACA(O), his advice was that at my age I am too long in the tooth for a reasonable chance of a regular commission in the infantry or indeed any of the Teeth Arms.

Whilst it would obviously be an honour to serve under any capbadge, my heart is set on the infantry.
I have a good job in Finance, so my ACA(O) thought I’m mad for wanting to apply for a regular commission on the basis of my age and civilian job. He instead recommended the TA route, especially given the ‘Army 2020’ directives of enlarging the TA and contracting the regular Army.

I passed RMR selection at 19 and spend two years in the RMR whilst at university – this is part of the reason why I’m set on the infantry. In addition to this, in my arrogance, I think I have other selling points, for example Captaining Rugby 1[SUP]st[/SUP] XV and Football XI at school, living abroad in the Middle East and foreign languages. I also maintain a good level of physical fitness.

So, my questions are:
If a Ocdt receives no offers, however vague, of sponsorship prior to attending Sandhurst from a ‘Teeth Arm’ Corp of regiment –how much does a strong Sandhurst performance count towards subsequently getting you into a competitive corps / regiment?

Specifically, if an Ocdt were to finish in the top third and had a good report, would this defiantly open the door to an infantry commission, irrespective of age?

Finally, based on your experience / knowledge, am I, at first glance, too old to realise my ambition of a regular commission in the infantry / RA / RE / RAC etc…?

Thanks, massively appreciated
I'm not surprised you've been given this advice, but I think you'll find that the Teeth Arms will be more receptive once you (hopefully) get to Sandhurst. I've known of people who have commissioned into the infantry well beyond 25.
Thanks gallowglass (an impressively speedy response might I add!)

Yes, obviously there are still big ‘Ifs’ of actually passing Briefing, Main Board and being offered a place on a CC. Not to mention trying to predict how well you’ll actually do once at RMAS. Still, got to be in it to win it.

Incidentally, does anyone have any information on what the competition for places at RMAS is at the moment? Given the unemployment rate of 18 – 26 year olds I’d imagine pretty stiff?

Good advice from Gallowglass but something else that you might want to consider is that if you are doing this because you want to serve in Afghanistan then the chance of this happening in your timescales is pretty small.
If you can get into Sandhurst before you turn 26, you may stand a chance.
Your rubber dagger and sporting achievments suggest you have the right stuff.

Shine on the CC, graduate top third and the wonderful world of infanteering may yet be your bearded whelk.
Bad Co, sandmanrez Thanks for your replies

Bad Co,
Yes, going on combat operations is part of the reason for wanting to join, although the main reason is not wanting to spend the rest of my twenties number crunching on a computer at a desk (although I’m told Officers also get their fair share of desk work!).

Sandmanrez, thanks for your advice. I’m going to go for it – if I fail along the way at least I’ve tried.
The reality is Tiresias, if the regiment like you I doubt they'll be that fussed about your age. One guy in my platoon was 29 and commissioned into the infantry because he was very, very good and he fitted in. Another 29 year old was told by the RLC that he was too old; an excuse really because I don't think they were convinced he would add much value to the Corps. I'd recommend going on a visit to an infantry unit and seeing what they say. You'll be at the upper end of what they're allowed to take now though, as I think 26 is the oldest you can join the infantry now.
Thanks Nickhere, great insight

If you don’t mind me asking, which regiment / corps did you choose and what was your reasoning?

Do you find that for some Ocdts going through Sandhurst changes where they initially thought they’d want to end up?

Finally, what constitutes being good at Sandhurst? Presumably areas such as fitness, navigation and map reading, passing room and kit inspections, Academics, successfully commanding exercises, being a good marksmen, being well liked and selfless etc…? Does a platoon’s performance depend on specific test results (eg time on a run, shooting score) or is it more the general overall impression given to the Instructors?

Sorry for the barrage of questions, no offence taken if you haven’t the time to answer!

I was in Sovereigns Platoon at Sandhurst - that means we got the highest overall score from a series of events (log runs, endurance events etc) that were undertaken throughout the CC.

Obviously, logic would dictate that we were the BEST Platoon, therefore we were all the BEST OCdts, but of course, it is a group effort and I think we worked well together, while supporting some less able members. The Sword winner wasn't in our Platoon.

As for how you are graded personally, there are assessed parts to the course that count towards that - academic work, physical events etc. Awards are given to the best at academic studies, best overall (Sword winner) and other categories.

You ought to get to see some of the cap badges you are interested in before RMAS, as turning up with Infantry as your choice leaves a wide range of Regiments to choose from (or for them to choose you).

Bearing in mind the age thing (and I am no expert on the new fashion at RMAS, but had heard the age limit was reducing), you might want to think about what you really want to do if Infantry is turned off for you. That way, it wont feel like a booby prize to you (too much), which may be telling in selection interivews.

Out of interest, having done RMR, why not go Regular Booty?

As an aside, the forthcoming return to contingency will leave a big mark of uncertainty over who will be doing what, but Combat Support cap badges (RA, RE) offer a wide range of "trades" and specialisations - RA offer Para and Cdo Regiments and sub-units, I think RE may have reduced to sub-units only. They both offer armoured and light supporting roles and as their mottos suggest, go everywhere the infantry does to provide that support. If we really do end up sitting on our arrses (mostly) back in the UK, I can see these guys keeping busy, as supporting the supported arms (Inf/Cav/Bde) on exercises AND exercising your specialist skill usually sees you twice as busy as "just" an Inf/Cav regiment/Bn.

I'm only slightly biaised as I'm RA, but can even see the logic behind RE (I feel dirty now...) and also understand the thirst to be Inf and go and bayonet bad guys, but that's on the cards for the majority for about another 18 months...perhaps. Food for thought.
Getting harder to achieve at later ages (25 is 'old hat' for the new intakes now seemingly) but not impossible. As others say perform well and see what happens. People have (and are still, although rarely) commissioning into Infantry being older than you.


Now that the age range on the Commissioning Course is being compressed, I wonder how much difference age on commissioning will actually make. My gut reaction is that there would be no good reason to discriminate against a 25 year old as opposed to a 22 year old for an infantry commission.
Queen's Medal? That's for best all round - everything scored or graded (shoots, CFTs, OFTs, whatever).
Trust Medal for best aggregate academic scores.


25 not too old for Infantry if they think you will fit in the Regiment. 18 too old if they think you won't!

As an aside, do not equate top third with infantry. As Oyibo will recall there were some very bottom third shockers who joined Inf Regts. I stand by for howls of outrage from some mid and lower third inf officers insisting otherwise!


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I should be more specific, sorry - best all round objectively rather than best all round as judged by DS (which is, of course, the blade).
True, but the Queen's Medal is really just a runners up prize for Physics geeks. The Trust Medal is for winners.

To answer a question from the OP, a lot of people change their Choice of Arm preference while at RMAS. While people did discover a burning desire to become a Gunner rather than a Loggie, I would say that the vast majority of people who change COA do so because they're unlikely to be succesful in their initial choice. There are a lot of people who turn up at RMAS with infantry and Cavalry as their preference but quickly discover that they just don't meet the required standard. Sometime these people will change their mind and make a different choice but often their mind is changed for them when they are given a polite 'no' from their Regiment of choice.

'Good at Sandhurst' involves a lot of things. Being good at shooting, fitness and academics is useful but its the leadership intangibles that make the real difference. As previously stated, the Queen's Medal is for the highest overall score but it is exceptionally rare that the winner also gets the Sword of Honour. Indeed, it is often the case that the Medal winner isn't even a JUO (awarded to the 'top' two Cadets in each platoon). The reality is that 'doing well' is judged on how well you lead on exercise, be that delivering orders or commanding a platoon attack. Fitness is also incredibly important; nobody knows if you do badly on an essay or miss a target, but everyone knows how well your last PFA went.
Now that the age range on the Commissioning Course is being compressed, I wonder how much difference age on commissioning will actually make. My gut reaction is that there would be no good reason to discriminate against a 25 year old as opposed to a 22 year old for an infantry commission.
This. It's one thing differentiating between a 22 year old and a 29 year old but now that the oldest cadets (such as myself!) will be 26 upon commissioning it might be a bit harder to play the age card. Interestingly I've found that a lot of the officers advising me that I'm too old for the teeth arms are non-teeth arm officers whereas any of infantry officers that I've spoken to have reassured me that age shouldn't come into it. If I do decide to go infantry my skill, fitness and personality will be far more important than my birth cert!


Arrseways - of course it will. Unless there is a 23 yr old who is as fit, skilled and engaging as you. The same applies to all arms of course!

Being 26 on commissioning is no bar to progress, but do not think your age has no bearing. On completion of special to arm training you will be as old as your Coy 2IC and maybe 18 months younger than the Adjt. That has a bearing on how you are viewed, the relative expectation of your 'maturity' (and hence level of forgiveness in making mistakes) etc, etc.
... or for those with all the ability on paper but none in practice. Anyway, shouldn't you be a bit busy right now? Beers, as always, on standby.

Interesting how the whole command appointment thing goes - I finished having only been Pl Sgt once on the first ex (buckshee) and once on final ex (where it doesn't matter, unless one pulls something particularly spectacular). I did spend a beastly double-innings as Coy 2ic on one rather busy ex. Clearly I was not regarded as needing 'testing', nor was I a JUO.

Ah, the mysteries of the dark place...
Funny that. I smashed out a Pl Sgt on Dragons, cleared it and was then left well and truly alone for the rest of the CC. Not Infantry, not a mong, not a JUO. Suited me just fine TBH.

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