Joining as Ammunition Technician?

Discussion in 'RLC' started by stinker, Jun 6, 2010.

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  1. Looking at the RLC Forum there have been endless questions regarding the Ammunition Technician Trade. Hopefully this thread has'nt been done before, if it has why is it not a sticky, it has got to be of more use than word wang?

    The official Army sites are about as much use as tits on a fish. Optimistically this thread will perhaps prevent bone questions/threads (though I doubt it) and perhaps enlighten posters and potential applicants. And yes, I'm bored.

    For those who want to start another RE vs RLC slagging match or derail/deviate the thread please do it elsewhere. Minor mistakes (such as spelling/grammar) are not worthy of comment. Major discrepancies, better info, please post a comment.

    Potential AT (POTAT)? Please read on, if the answer is not here you probably don't need to know it as a recruit. Please don't crayon over the thread unless you have something useful to add. You may even want to use the search function or scroll through the RLC forum pages there is at least one relevant topic per page. No, lord, give me strength.

    Glossary of Terms - Trade

    Ammunition Technician (Ammo Tech, AT) - An OR within the RLC who has completed basic training and the 8 month basic AT course at the Army School of Ammunition, Kineton.

    Ammunition Technical Officer (ATO) - An Officer within the RLC who has completed basic training at RMA Sandhurst, a posting and the 14 month ATO course at the ASof A, Kineton. - A hobby.

    ATOs - Officer Careers - British Army Website

    AT's are often referred to as ATO's by just about everyone in the Forces, a practice which IIRC started in Northern Ireland.

    Glossary of Terms - Stuff

    All of the terms below mean almost the same thing as in as much as you get to blow shit up. But they are fundamentally different and the cause of much angst between the Royal Engineers EOD and Ammunition Technicians.

    Bomb Disposal - A simple term for EOD

    Conventional Munitions Disposal - The disposal/disablement of civilian and military ammunition and explosives.

    Counter Terrorist Bomb Disposal - A term which attracts more funding than IEDD but means the same thing.

    Counter IED - Means the same as EOD but gets more funding.

    Explosive Ordnance Disposal - An all embracing term which covers everything within this field; CMD, IEDD, ECM and Search.

    Improvised Explosive Device - Bombs which may or may not contain military stores but are normally made of non military components.

    Improvised Explosive Device Disposal - The disposal/disablement of IEDs.


    Gender - Male or Female.

    Age - No idea as the Army website says between 16.3 and 17.6yrs which would seem to be a bit odd, so up to 33 like the rest of the Army I reckon. Ask at the recruiting office they'll have the definitive answer.

    The POTAT requires 3 GCSEs according to these;

    Role Finder - British Army Website

    Ammunition Technician - British Army Website

    at Grade C and above in English Language, Maths and Science. Although IMHO this just shows how much standards have fallen and 5 at C and above would be better. If you have A levels or higher/equivalent you can still apply, but you may want to look at Army Officer or these;

    Further Education Bursary - British Army Website

    Undergraduate schemes - British Army Website

    Note: If you don't have the qualifications or fail at any stage up to Class 2 training don't despair your choice of becoming an AT is not a non starter, as you can still join the Army and transfer in at a later date (although you'll probably think all ATs are ******* by this stage and decide on a 22yr career topping out at LCpl in your chosen trade). Be aware that the competition is fierce and the selection procedure is designed to weed out people who are not suitable for the trade, therefore it may be that you're just not suitable.

    Trade and Training

    The potential Ammunition Technician starts his gilded career by visiting a recruiting office and asking about the trade. As a civvie, knocking on the door of the recruiting office and looking to join the Army, a wide range of jobs are available to you. Undoubtedly you will be coerced to join the recruiters own regiment and trade but if you want to become an AT stick to your guns. Your BARB score (i.e how well you do during the initial computer-based test) will determine which trades the Army will consider you capable of training for. If you bollox this up, ask for another go or refer to the Note above. So a simple piece of advice, don't.

    BARB Test info;

    Recruitment tests - British Army Website

    The BARB test

    Take note of Benzoates' comments here;

    Ammo Tech, Minimum Grades and Training Intakes


    first interview

    Once you have jumped these hurdles there is something called the pre ADSC (optional) and the ADSC that I understand that all potential recruits have to do. More info here;

    Fail here? Try again or see Note.

    You will now have to do the ATCAB;

    ATCAB / AT Pre-selection
    Ammunition Technician Careers Advisory Board

    Passed? Now after receiving your basic training dates your thoughts will undoubtedly turn to what kit you require. Try here;

    kit list for basic...

    Golden Hello - As the trade is currently Operational Pinch Point, as a POTAT you are entitled to a Golden Hello of between £1250 and £4500 dependant on qualifications.

    Every RLC soldier is first and foremost a fighting soldier, according to the website, although this is strongly debated by the rest of the Army and the conclusion is that you're a ******* REMF.

    Your military career will start at ATR (Army Training Regiment) Pirbright, Surrey. During your 14 week basic training you will learn military skills such as foot drill, how to handle and fire a weapon, how to live and work in the open, and how to tackle an assault course, as well as developing your stamina and fitness. Having successfully mastered these basic military skills, you will take your place in the Passing Out parade in front of an invited audience of parents, relatives and friends.

    After completing your basic military training you will attend a one-week induction course at the Royal Logistic Corps Depot at the Princess Royal Barracks near Camberley, Surrey (if it hasn't been sold off first). Here you will learn something (yes, it really says "something" on the website!) about your Corps and its history.

    Your Class 2 trade training will take 8mths (25wks on website??) and will provide you with the foundation of knowledge required for your future career as an Ammunition Technician starting with an 8wk phase at RMC Shrivenham the remainder of the course being at the ASofA. You will be involved in mainly classroom work, learning about British ammunition, how it works, how to inspect, repair, store and dispose of it safely, with practical phases, either in the laboratory (an APB - Ammunition Process Building) or outside on the explosives demolition ground. On successful completion of this course, you will be promoted to LCpl and posted to one of the units listed below.

    If you fail the basic class 2 you will be thrown back to the RLC (although rumour has it you can get another chance) and await the outcome of a review, you'll become a Logistic Specialist IIRC. after this you'll probably want to retrade.

    Somewhere about here in your career you will be sent to DST Leconsfield for about 10wks to qualify for your Car, Cat C or C+E licence, ie driving trucks. This is up north and a truly exciting experience that is made bearable by the delights of Beverly and Hull. A piece of advice here; you may be a newly promoted LCpl, but you have served a grand total of 8-12mths in the Army, gob off and it is likely a Pte/LCpl who has spent half of his life in the forces will justifiably facilitate your requirement for emergency dental surgery.

    Approximately 1yr later you should be promoted to Cpl. You will have to be totally useless or have fucked up in a big way (and been found out) not to get this far.

    After a further one or two years you will you will return to the Army School of Ammunition to complete your Class 1 upgrading course. This will increase the depth of your knowledge and introduce you to guided weapons, conventional munitions disposal and the wider aspects of explosive ordnance disposal (according to the website). As the curriculum has changed somewhat since I did it god only knows what is currently on it.

    If you fail the upgrading then you can resit the modules you failed, IIRC the current record is 4 attempts at upgrading.

    Pass and you should in 1-2 yrs be looking at picking up your Sgt.

    Postings JNCO's

    DEMSS (formally AS of A) - Based at Kineton, Warwickshire. Employed in the instructional role, teaching Land Service Ammunition, CMD or IEDD at the Felix Centre. Unlikely as a JNCO but I understand there are a couple of postings though.

    DSDA Kineton - Based at Kineton, Warwickshire. Employed in the ammunition maintenance and storage role, including demolitions.

    3 Cdo Bde LSR - Somewhere southwest ish probably Plymouth. Same as 9 or 6 but with booties. Chances are you will be encouraged to go All Arms Commando.

    9 TLR RLC - Based at Hullavington, Wiltshire . Employed in the ammunition maintenance and storage role, including demolitions. Expect to be doing lots of ammo depot tours as the bomb gods at 11 think it's your job and not theirs.

    6 TLR RLC - Based at Gutersloh, Germany. Same as 9 but with exercises to support.

    11 EOD Regiment RLC - RHQ Based at Didcot, Oxfordshire. You may be lucky enough to be posted to a detachment (Troop) within;

    321 Sqn - Northern Ireland.
    421 Sqn - Didcot
    521 Sqn - Northern England and Scotland.
    621 Sqn - South East England.
    721 Sqn - South West England and Wales + Germany.
    821 Sqn - Wimbish - Part of 33 EOD Regt RE.

    where you will witness and assist in the various roles of a SNCO AT, such as; Hazmat, safe to moves, ammo inspections CMD, IEDD, returns, COSHH, H&S, ammo accounts, personnel management, IEDD training, driving, returns, stores accounts, Special Projects, ammo storage, equipment maintenance, BCMD, PT, Radhaz, MATTs. Did I mention returns.

    So something for everyone. If you put which Sqn you'd like to be in on your posting preference/assignment preference/aspiration proforma (whatever it's called). This will probably make little difference as Manning and Records will decide your posting via the medium of a malfunctioning oujia board. Chances are you'll still go to Didcot/Wimbish though.

    Day to Day Work

    No matter where you're going be assured it will be on tour somewhere. In your first posting your duties as a JNCO will be much the same in any of the postings as you have to complete a multitude of courses before getting to Sgt; Driving, MPC, Class 1, IEDD No2, Blue Light Driving, EFP, SP and MPC(A). A total of 45ish weeks which if you add 6wks leave pa, a 6 mth tour, POTL, exercises and a couple of weeks Adventure Training in the 2 -3 yrs before Sgt/end of first posting, it generally means you'll never be at your place of work anyway. If you find yourself at work employed in the cleaning and furniture removal role, you have failed to be on enough courses, so bugger off for another couple of weeks and get yourself an Adv Trg Qualification.

    If for some obscure reason you are actually at work you will of course be inspecting ammunition (counting bullets and processing vast amounts of brown boxes) at some stage and doing all the other mundane tasks expected of someone at the bottom of the career ladder. However after reading the enlightening observations on the trade by other posters on ARRSE you would be mistaken in believing that every other trade in the British Army allows you to do what you like, when you like, the day after trade training. Maybe, but believe me you'll still get the shit jobs.

    In a nutshell you are not going to be defuzing bombs at the rank of space cadet, or from the day you join the Army (even the Royal Engineers don't let you do that). It will take you approximately 5yrs and holding the rank of Sgt before you get to this stage, even then it's not a given. You may become a No2 IEDD Operator (as a JNCO) if selected/volunteered which makes things more interesting which leads us onto:

    Paras, Commandos, EOD

    ATs can become All Arms Para or All Arms Commando at any time in their career, if they feel the need to put their bodies through hell to attain the para/cdo badge and the kudos. Points to note; you have more than enough courses coming your way so remember you can't do two at the same time, and if you're a bit of a knacker you won't get recommended anyway.

    EOD. Before I start there is a certain amount of professional rivalry between ATs and RE EOD over who does what. Don't worry yourself about this, to be honest the chances are that all EOD will be done by the RE in the future (however this bun fight has been going on for at least 15 years, so don't hold your breath). EOD is not a trade for the AT or in the UK Armed Forces (yet) but is part of the Ammo Tech career profile.

    A taste of the AT/BDO banter is here;

    Ammunition Technician

    As an AT JNCO you may be selected/volunteer for a place on the IEDD course at the AS of A where you will, if you pass, become an IEDD No2 Operator. This means you can operate and maintain the EOD equipment on the course whilst watching as your boss passes or fails assessment tasks, blaming all his/her mistakes on your performance and not his/her short comings.

    If you are lucky enough to get sent on tour (currently Afg only) then you will be working in a team as part of the Joint Force EOD Group (it may have changed names again) working alongside the teeth arms and the RE search teams (who it has to be said do a bloody good job) but YOU will still not do bombs, you will be looking after the equipment and watching as your boss goes down the road.

    Your future as an AT

    Simply put is what you make it.

    High Band Pay, rapid promotion, qualify as a Joint Service IEDD No1 Operator and run about the UK buggering the police around whilst being paid for practicing legalised vandalism. After a couple of years as JS Op qualify as a High Threat IEDD No1 Operator and the world is pretty much your oyster. The Army will even give you a £50k lump sum (before tax, and with strings attached) and retention pay of between 7 and £17 a day for the privilege of blowing shit up. There are opportunities galore in the trade and one day is rarely the same as the next, a summary of the work is as above in the 11 EOD Regt posting.

    Postings get better at SNCO, 11 Regt where the majority of the trade exist, including Alpha Tp (who support the SBS and SAS), 9, 6, 3 Cdo, ASof A inc Felix Centre, DSDA Ktn, Canada and Cyprus. Additionally supporting Overseas Exercises in such places as Jamaica, Kenya, Botswana, Belize, Poland, Oman is fun and not forgetting tours as IEDD Operators, Inspectorate or Depot.

    As a WO the postings, if suitably qualified, are even better including; Brunei, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Cyprus, School of Inf, School of Armour, School of Arty, HQ DRLC, Weapons Intelligence Section, DGM IPT.

    When you're done

    After 22 years in the trade (if you joined it for less than 12 then why did you bother in the first place?) there are many jobs open to the AT dependant on qualifications here's a few;

    EOD in the Private Sector.


    I have attempted to be as accurate as possible to the best of my knowledge for this post. Things may have changed dramatically since my day and it is worth noting that the information here may or may not be entirely accurate as the Army loves change and my memory isn't what it used to be.

    Any views are my own and if you want to know less visit the official website;

    How do I Join?
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  2. Good post. Especially the bits where you copied my 'Joining the RE' post more or less word-for-word...
  3. Not exactly plagiarized (it just wouldn't have worked) but thanks for the template and inspiration. Should have put you as co author.

  4. It was a really informative post. Know anything about 531 and Ammo Tech / Ammo Spec stabbery in general?
  5. Good post stinker.

    Melchy, can you make this a sticky (double underlined and in bold)?
  6. We used to have a TA Sqn, 421 EOD Sqn which used to have TA ATs but this along with many things is no longer the case.

    As I understand it there is now only TA Ammo Specialists as in the past there was some bunfight reference the EOD Quals of the TA AT (sound familiar?).

    IIRC they deployed on Telic 1 and supported the storage area (think ammo depot bastion/shaiba) much as a Logistic Specialist would. The course at Kineton covers ammo mixing rules and hazmat much the same as the All Arms Ammo storeman from any other branch of the Army (Ammo Storeman in the RQMS Dept).

    The only reference I can find is this;

    which no doubt you have found already.

    In lieu of any really useful info all I can think of is give them a call but I can't even find a number for them!! Try the AFCO Nottingham 0115 9473629
  7. Cheers. Been considering it for a while and may well take a closer look. Should probably cheese-grater off the 33 EOD tat on my arm though, eh? :wink:
  8. Excellent post and a bit of a giggle as well :)

    Found this four pages on from the first page. God only knows why it's on it's own hidden so far down the line, but that's the web site designer's issue. It's the one about the age limit, the description is the same but figured I'd help with that issue of yours :)
  10. 421 was a Shadow Unit many many moons ago
  11. Ok - Tutorial on the Militia! (TA) :D

    Originally there were three independent, national TA EOD Sqns: 431,531 and 631 (supposely mirroring 421, 521 & 621) which had a homeland defence counter IED role. In 2000 it was (apparantly) decided that there was no longer a UK EOD threat. 431 and 631 were binned and 531 became the "Ammuntion Technical Support Sqn" in 166 Supply Regiment.

    531 is administered out of Grantham, however spends most of its time at Kineton these days.

    The squadron has been supporting operations continiously since Gulf 1 and has had folk deployed to Bosnia, Canada, Belize, Iraq, Afghanistan & FI.

    The squadrons used to be about 50 - 50 ex reg and volunteers, however the number of ex-regs has fallen drastically over the past decade. Despite this, the sqn turns out a steady stream of Ammo qualified folk who are very much in demand at the moment.

    If you are an Ex-Reg AT and join the sqn, you will retain your qualifications, rank and employability. The current ATs are all SNCOS and form the core of the training capability within the sqn.

    If you join as a volunteer, you will become an AS - Ammuniton Specialist. AS do their training in a number of stages..

    1. Three weekend sessions at Kineton to learn the basics of explosives and Ammuntion design, followed by a two week course at Kineton to reach qualification of AS Class 3. Class 3s get promoted as soon as possible, do not wear a badge, and are deployable as a No 1 on the paintpad/teamaker element of a CSAD inspection team.

    2. The next step, and after another three weekend sessions, our class 3 does another two weeks at Kineton learning how to inspect stuff in a lab and on the ground. If they pass this, they get a badge (Bomb and V) and are allowed to inspect ammuntion (not GW). At some stage after this they get promoted to Cpl after passing MPC.

    3. There is then a bit of a pause... The AS has to pass an ammunition storage element within the Sqn and be reccomended for upgrading. There is run up training for Class 1 (which is almost entirely Disposals) and then the course itself, which is two weeks.

    AS are expected to do a lot of home study to bring themselves up to speed with their knowledge of ammunition. This is supported with home study material and regular technical updating sessions and visits to manufacturers etc. A number of the squadron work in the ammunition and explosives industry which provides valuable cross fertilisation. Most AS2 in the Sqn have now deployed at least once in the past few years, and are as experienced as any AT2 coming out of the labs at Kineton..

    There are other opportunities for additional training covering AR, CMD, BCMD and IEDD No2 duties, however these are not currently in the frame at the moment. The sqn is mainly involved in supporting the ammo turnover task on Herrick with inspections and log dems.

    AS are fully qualified and authorised ammuntion folk within their areas of competance, with their own Empowerment tables in the Regulations.

    Like many things, priorities change and develop over the years, however 531 and the AS trade are on an up, and are recruiting and training like fury at the moment, despite the budgetary limitations...

    Lots of WO2 and SSgt slots for any ex ATs who may be kicking about at the moment...!

    POC is the OSWO 166 Supply Regt Grantham (0115957 3172)..
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  12. So, with it being a pinch point trade I would have thought there would be vacancy after vacancy. But I am told at my local AFCO that the next vacancy is likely to be April next year! What a wait.

    They mentioned that there may be changes to this, but it seems unlikely. Other than fitness and prep for pre-ADSC and ADSC itself, what other stuff can I get done in the mean time?

    Also, to anybody who is serving, are there a lot of goings on for pushing people into transfers to this trade with there being a shortage of able bodied IEDD folk? What with that being the reason for my want of joining, along with every other bugger who wants to be AT. Damn to the hype, I wanted this before I even realised how badly the shortages where!
  13. Thanks to HE117 for the TA info, and ycsm for the age limit.

    Dingerr, a bit remiss of me to not to have sent my regards before, glad to hear your in rehab and coping. Thanks for your approval, I take it most of the facts are still right.

    Apologies for the punctuation nightmare (if you can see it) - this is a result of the new site format and probably my aged computer machinery. I cannot edit the original post, as under the new site rules it is too long.
  14. Mentioned 4 paragraphs in on Post No1;

    ''if the answer isn't here you probably don't need to know it as a recruit"

    but there are still questions on Arrse ref AT. Some of these are about the Distance Learning Pack and others such as ycsm enquire about what can be done in the intrim period prior to basic/selection. So....

    The Armed Forces, believe it or not are actually pretty good at training its manpower in their chosen careers, once they have joined. Whilst it is admirable that people wish to pretrain prior to a course, if the Army hasn't provided you with any pre course reading, it probably means that you don't need it (I know that sometimes people get missed and the system isn't infallible, before anyone starts). For example, being shit hot at paintball doesn't mean your a shoein for the SAS.

    Doing a fair amount of physical exercise before basic is recommended and the physical standards within the forces are well documented, achieve these as a minimum and you should have no physical problems in basic.

    Learning all about ammunition natures/tactics/doctrine etc, whilst a hobby, (if your that way inclined) is not going to help you a great deal on a course. You are taught what you need to learn, and tested on what you have been taught. At best no-one is going to be interested if you think that 51mm is better than 60mm or vice versa, and at worst you will be ridiculed for your wikipedia knowledge and become a social outcast. Additionally, unless you've been taught it, this won't be a question anyway.

    Reference the AT DLP, this is supplied to YOU, for YOU to digest and complete. Its not much use rocking up with all the answers from internet forums but not knowing your arrse from your elbow. Its great knowing the answer is 42, but not having a clue how to work it out yourself when tested on a similar question means your dreams of becoming an AT have gone up in smoke. Finding the answer yourself is initiative, asking the rest of the English speaking world isn't.

    A good example is here;

    Now what to do before basic? Personally I was out 4/5 nights a week and doing all the things I wouldn't be allowed to do whilst in basic like having a life. A bit of phys, reading the newspaper and watching the news will generally suffice.
  15. A bit of an update as the Army loves change:

    Defence EOD is the new IEDD.

    Defence EOD Op is the new Joint Service IEDD Op. Now a 7 wks course (17 weeks if not AT) was 6 weeks.

    Advanced Defence EOD Op is the new High Threat IEDD Op. Now a 7wk course, was a 6wk course.

    Defence EOD & Search Branch (DEODS) was JEODS

    If i understand it correctly, thats the main differences anyway.