Joining the TA as a soldier before Sandhurst?

Hi, I am really set on going to Sandhurst after Uni, but I want to experience what it is like as a soldier first, and was told the best way to do that was through the TA. Is is possible to join as a soldier for about a year including basic training? I'm thinking of joining the RA.

You are well advised to join the TA first. Nothing equipped me better to serve as an officer than to find out what it is like to be the poor bastard at the back of the Battallion snake in the dark, cold, wet and pissed off. You get as cold, wet and tired in the TA as you do in the regs so the lesson is well learned.

You will see leaders doing it well, and those that don't. It is NOT the same as OTC (I have served in both TA and OTC). OTC was great fun, but not the same. Your comrades are educated and comparitively well off, I served with the more modest strata of society and I am glad I did.

You need to breathe the same air as 'the blokes' and suffer exactly what they suffer, tbe treated like they are treated, talk to them and try to understand them. You will also achieve a little moral high-ground in that you have done a little of what they have done. I didn't have 'sympathy' for them after commissioning (I was TA commissioned and then Reg), rather it hardened me in that I had done what they had done so didn't have time for whingers. However, it did teach me humilty, and respect, but that leadersip is not a popularity contest. And they gave me some great laughs...

RA is fine, but better to go infantry.

My experience is very dated, but there should be no problem in the length of service, but you want to go through the phases and pass out as quickly as possible. It is (I believe) still possible to do it in a year. Keep your commissioning goal quiet, you will get a better experience that way (on many levels!!)

Good luck.
Thanks so much. I was reading about the TA and it says there is a minimum service of 3 years. Do you know if there is there any way of cutting that short because I want to still be young when I go to Sandhurst!? Thanks
I don't, but as I see it, you are effectively transferring from TA service to Regular, I can't see a problem, but speak to your Careers office/TA centre.

I can't remember from your post, but are you leaving 6th Form/A levels and then hope to go to Sandhurst, or are thinking about University? If costs put you off Uni, the Army does sponser suitable candidates by way of a cadetship/bursary. Again, something to discuss with your recruitment office. You need specialist advice regarding commissioning, but there are many options. You can join the OTC at Uni which pays like the TA, but it isn't a fortune.

Another advantage I had with the TA is that I was given 'coaching' for the RCN/AOSB (officer selection) which helped. You might want to read that forum as well. I have actually been on RCB twice (one TA, one regular), and to be honest is was still as hard each time.
I wholeheartedly echo Grumpole's sentiments. I joined the London Jocks as a Private soldier whilst I was still at school (32 years ago :( ). Did a year and a bit - every drill night and weekend I could manage. Joined the Regular Army as a POC (and still managed the odd TA weekend - how's that for enthusiasm) and then cracked RCB and Sandhurst. So I was effectively in the TA and the Regular Army at the same time! The old buggers still remind me about it at company reunions......................It was a long time ago but it taught me a huge amount and I remember it fondly.

Go for it - you won't regret it and neither will your soldiers.
Mulan, I am currently in the TA doing the same as you are planning. I went to my local unit and explained the situation and the PSAO was only to happy to get me in and I have been offered no end of support for the eventual cross over next year.

It is however massively important that you are open about your plans with your entry interview and with the training team thereafter as if you keep it to yourself then they will be a bit peeved when you do go to make the jump. The minimum time does not affect you moving to the regs at all!

As Grumpole has said joining as one of the boys on the ground is an amazing incite and has placed me in very good stead.
Go for it kid, we've had some excellent officers pass through the TA on the way to the regs. Get yourself down to the local TA centre and sign on
polar69 said:
Go for it kid, we've had some excellent officers pass through the TA on the way to the regs. Get yourself down to the local TA centre and sign on
What better endorsement than that do you need?!?!?

All the best.
Thanks so much that's really helpful. Is it possible to join the TA at Uni as well as OTC? If you did it as well as the regulars it should be!?
Depends on your location, Cambridge caters for it very well as did Norwich as the drill nights were on different evenings. You might find that the respective commitments to both will make you struggle with your weekends though.
mulan said:
Thanks so much that's really helpful. Is it possible to join the TA at Uni as well as OTC? If you did it as well as the regulars it should be!?
I think you should choose either. I was TA, then through the commissioning route was sent to the OTC to do my Officer training (MTQ2). I was therefore in the TA and OTC. The OTC is a TA type engagement anyway. The advantage of OTC is that you are taught leadership skills and the whole commissioning process is explained. I think your best option is to join teh TA for a year, and then if you get to Uni transfer over.
A lot of people join the TA as a stepping stone to Sandhurst instead of joining the OTC.

As said above it will give you a different perspective on soldiering, rather than a jolly hocky sticks oh look its 5pm lets have a party type feeling that pervails at most OTC's you will be able to get some good basic soldiering skills under you belt.

Dont bother joining the OTC and TA as it will only confuse JPA and the admin staff and you may end up not getting paid at all.
That is exactly what I am doing now, am currently at Uni and am a Private in an infantry TA unit, initially i joined the OTC as a TASO, which means your parent unit is normal TA but you do majority of training at the OTC to eventually commision into your sponsor unit, but I didnt like the attitude of the OTC and so am now wholly TA. To be honest I have learnt more fromt the TA about being an officer than from the OTC, and thats just from watching the good and the bad and also knowing what bods want and like, I couldnt agree more with Grumpoles comments, and recommend you do go for it with the TA
Grumpole said:
Your comrades are educated and comparitively well off, I served with the more modest strata of society and I am glad I did.
None taken. You mouthy cunt.
Avoid the OTC - increasingly less impressive and infrequent product from these organisations. In fact I would say you will be taught poor practice and this will eventually harm your regular army aspirations.

Infantry is the only way to go. What you need to be doing is to square away your basic drills; learn how to clean a rifle really well, platoon harbour drills, platoon attacks and your role in them, how to live from a Bergan as an infantryman, learn from the NCOs about how to conduct yourself as a soldier, map reading and importantly ..... learning that f*ck ups from the chain of command have a very real impact on soldiers.

I disagree that you need need to tell the training staff about your plans. So, "they" may be peeved when you leave for RMAS - so what ?? Do you think that RMAS staff are going to consider the opinion of some "peeved" NCO from XX Rifles for more than a nano second?

Don't worry about the 3 year thing, you can leave when you want. As the gracious Minister of Defence recently argued in court, the TA is casual labour.

Don't do both .... do one thing well.
Thanks for all the help, I should have said earlier but I can't join the proper infantry because I'm a girl. That's why I like the idea of the OTC. Anyone have anything good to say about the RA? Or I'm thinking of the Signals or RMP maybe as well? Thanks
If you can't do infantry why don't you join the unit which will reflect your choice after commissioning?
It will help you see if you like it, and if not make another choice.

As Grumpole says, finding out what it is like to be the new 'un with all the crap that goes with it at times is really a valuable experience. Also observe the officers and listen to what the others say about them, you will learn a lot about what makes a good officer, and what makes a bad officer. I did soldier first and that taught me more about what to avoid than any amount of Sandhurst lectures managed.

Good luck anyhow.
I have plenty of good things to say about the Royal Regiment, but unlike those infantry chaps I don't have to bang on about how good we are, we just stand to the right of them and know how good we are. :wink:

Seriously though I agree with those that recommend Infantry in the TA if you intend on RMAS, it would give you that base instruction but not confuse you by trying to force a trade in your head, Infantry is the specialist trade, whereas in the Gunners its Gunnery/Signals/AD/etc

However as you are looking long term at the RA then I would definitely advise you to visit your local RA unit (if you have one) as it would get you into the Gunner mindset and stop you calling your Bombardiers Corporal when you get through the factory

You haven't mentioned where you are studying
I'm applying to Oxford, Durham, York and I haven't decided the other two. I want to do PPE, and I've just done my AS Levels, so am applying this autumn. I've looked up all the OTCs in those places and they seem quite good, although I have no way of telling.
It's my plan too. I've been TA Inf for over a year now, and have just got a confirmed uni place for September 09. I was planning to use my gap year to do an afghan tour, but the dates have been constantly changed so much to my great disappointment it's looking increasingly unlikely. But my dramas aside, I've found it fantastic fun and great preparation for regular service, something I'd heartily recommend to anyone. I've made great mates, learned the tricks of the trade and generally learned much more about the Army than (from what mates/Arrsers have said) I would in the OTC. Having said that, I might try this TASO lark, just because I fancy sexpesting hot uni girls for four years, and my war stories will no doubt get me in the knickers of a public school girl type or two!

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