Joining TA whilst at uni...with a few complications

Hi all,

Firstly I have read everything about joining the TA in general and specifically being in the TA whilst at uni on the Arrsepedia; I was just after some specific advice for my situation as there are a couple of things I feel are worth asking about before I jump in.

I've just finished my 1st year at Loughborough Uni, and when I go back for my 2nd year in October I'm hoping to join my local unit, 203 (Loughborough) Transport Squadron, 158 (Royal Anglian) Transport Regiment as a Driver. This has been my intention for a good while, but there is (what may be) a slight problem: my course is 4 years long, with the 3rd year being spent on a placement in industry. What this means at face value is that if I joined the Loughborough unit in October, I would have to be leaving come July/August time to start my 12 month placement...

...however, as it happens I'm hoping to work for an investment bank in London for my placement, for which I will be able to live at home and commute to every day with relative ease, as I'm originally from Essex. Now I've done some research and discovered that 158 Tpt Regiment also has a squadron based in Ipswich (202) with a troop based in Colchester, which is just a few miles down the road from me. So considering that these squadrons are part of the same regiment and serve the exact same purpose, the only difference being their location within East Anglia, how feasible would it be for me to join 203 (Loughborough) in October then if I succeed in getting a placement and move back to Essex come next summer, transfer across to 202 (Ipswich) for the duration of my year in industry, then when I come back up to LOughborough for my final year of study, transfer BACK to 203 (Loughborough) again?

Hopefully my question (and logic) makes sense! I just think that as they are the exact same type of units and part of the same regiment, and that I would be doing the exact same job in each one, and that the TA would still get the same amount and type service from me as if I was staying in the same place for the 3 years, there doesn't seem to be much reason why it wouldn't be possible? But obviously I want to find out first and act accordingly rather than waste the Army's and my time!

I hope you follow my dilemma, any insight would be greatly appreciated!

A couple of things in your favour - you'll be a newbie, so you'd probably get moved about a bit within a Sqn before your final slot is decided. Also, you're a student, so you'll probably find that your CO will be very accommodating. The TA is generally quite accommodating anyway, but you'll be the cherry on the cake, so to speak.

When I went to Polytechnic (many moons ago), having joined the TA previously, I had an arrangement whereby I'd do the odd drill night with the local Coy and travel with them to live firing weekends where I'd meet up with my own Coy for the duration of the weekend. I believe their clerk informed my clerk of my attendances, so pay and travel were dealt with by my own Coy. During vacations, I'd be with my own Coy. It was an informal arrangement sorted by the two OCs involved and it worked well as it didn't involve any transfer.

Nowadays we have obstructions like JPA and signed Attendance Registers that can be used as excuses to throw spanners in the works, but I don't see why similar arrangements couldn't be adopted - it just means a little bit of extra work for the admin staff (as in a phone call and adding your name to a nominal roll).

Look at the relative periods that you'd spend with each unit. If you find that most of your training would be with the Essex unit (bearing in mind that Annual Camp/course in lieu will need to be during your vacations), it may be best to join your home unit and try to secure an informal arrangement at Loughborough.

Alternatively, you could join a nationally-recruited unit and stick with the same unit all the way through. It may involve a bit more travelling (for which you'd be paid), but you wouldn't have drill nights or as many weekends to contend with. That could be a big bonus for a student.
I'll second that advice. Plus, the fact that you've obviously done some research bodes well. When I joined the TA the advice from the CO, when I raised a similar question, was along the lines of 'I don't care where you go or what you do after this, my job is to get you in'.
If I were you, I would definitely look into some way around transferring, as it can end up being a ballache. JPA just slows down the process, and I have been waiting since March for my transfer to go through. The RCMO of my new unit now has to phone Glasgow to see what has been going on. As I am not on the strength of my new unit, they help me out with admin problems etc. which just makes things a hassle. I couldn't tell you if my problem is the exception or the rule, but if there is any other way around it, I would highly recommend avoiding transferring.
If I have read this right there should be no 'transferring' involved as it is the same regiment. We have had a bunch of people move between squadrons and it was simple as anything. The clerks/PSAOs at each sqn should be able to talk to one another and get it sorted.

One way to make everything much easier for your unit - and to avoid you falling between the cracks is to try and get your recruit training finished before you move sqns so all your admin is done at one place. Just prevents human nature getting in the way and any confusion over attending RTC etc.
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