Lack of previous ambition

Discussion in 'Join the Army - Regular Officer Recruiting' started by MCG, Apr 13, 2011.

Welcome to the Army Rumour Service, ARRSE

The UK's largest and busiest UNofficial military website.

The heart of the site is the forum area, including:

  1. MCG


    Basically for most of my life I have coasted along, got average - below average grades, never bothered with sports or any other activities really, had some part time jobs but never bothered trying to advance, etc.

    Generally this was because I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life. I had no ambitions, so had no targets to aim for, and as such just did what was necessary to get by.

    However the more I've looked into an army career over the last few months the more I've become determined that it's what I want to do. It's pretty much the first thing in my life I've ever cared about succeeding at. However I'm concerned that my lack of....anything up until now will mean they won't believe I'm serious and just tell me to **** off.

    I'm looking for advice about how to improve my chances. Too late to join the UOTC as I graduate this summer. How do I prove that I'm no longer that person?

  2. I would imagine that you need to start looking very pro-active in your approach to the Army application. Get talking to regiments, get talking to your local ACA, get reading related books (many recommendations on here), get fit, start a sport / outdoors activity (hillwalking is an easy one with minimal start-up costs). That way you have evidence that this has motivated you, and you haven't just decided to apply as it's a job in hard times.

    Then, if you get to AOSB, you must be honest about your past. But spin it in a positive: "I was a bit of a waster, but I've now turned that all around by X, Y, Z.". Expect to be quizzed on your moderate grades.

  3. Hope you get good grades and do something worthwhile between now and then - volunteer work, charity fundraising, maybe look at TA. you could ask the recruiting office whether you look like a poor candidate - you will certainly have some questions thrown at you and your motivation will be under scrutiny.
  4. Mate
    I think you are being too hard on yourself and you should try to see yourself as others see you!

    You are close to completing a degree which indicates, to anybody sensible, that you are not an idiot and that you have the capacity both to set and stick to goals.

    A lot of blokes are late developers and only come into their own in their mid to late 20's. In addition, I have had a lot of "high calibre" graduate trainees working for me over the years and have found many of the "walking cvs" a pain in the arse and liabiliities in hazardous environments.

    My advice is to concentrate between now and June on getting the best possible class of degree you can and let the future take care of itself.

    You can concentrate on the CV enhancing stuff after graduation. If you feel you are not competitive for an AOSB now, spend the year after graduation in the TA, mountaineering and helping little old ladies cross the road.

    You will be amazed at what you can acheive between now and June if you work hard!
    Good luck mate!

    PS When you do get to be an officer, the lads (and the more experienced officers) will probably find a subby with a touch of humility a refreshing change.
  5. MCG

    Not knowing what you want to do with life is perfectly normal. Why would you know?

    So now you've found out. So stop dreaming and start planning. Get your priorities in order and first ensure that you graduate as well as you can. Decide when you intend to go to Westbury, then plan a programme over perhaps 12 months to get there. The plan should cover perhaps five specific characteristics reqired for the job of sub-unit commander. What are they? Find out. Then you can see how you compare with those characteristics and begin to plan. Start with a job that will help. For example, try Post man. Of course the money's crap, but you'll walk reasonable distances and carry weight daily. You can start early so that the afternoons and evenings are free to work on your preparation.

    Trawl through the entries here ( yes all of them) for leads towards what you should include in your plan. Get to an ACA, fill in the docs and get the ball rolling. Go to Briefing to find out exactly what you're in for; don't expect to shine , as long as you don't get a Cat 4 you're still in. As a result of Briefing you'll be in a far better position to amend your plan to your specific needs. That's what it's for. In the meantime, try to find some activity in which you can be responsible for other people, young or old. Somewhere round here are the fitness requirements for Westbury. Dig them out, then work to exceed them by 10%. They are a bare minimum. Then hunt out the pre-RMAS fitness programme for those who've passed and are waiting to enter. Follow it, then exceed it.


    Old Rat
  6. This is sound advice and if you follow it I am sure you will be fine. Particularly getting hold of the job description of a sub unit commander and working out how to provide evidence of the characteristics will be great at interview.

    The blokes making decisions on the RCB will be experienced officers; who, like most experienced managers, have developed advanced bullshit detectors, and the main question in the back of their minds is (I hope) "Would I trust this bloke with the lives of my soldiers?"

    Therefore, if you show common sense, integrity, a good knowledge of the job, meet the fitness requirements,do ok on the command tasks and don't appear glib you will be fine.

    I had a look at your previous post where you expressed concern about perceptions of "working class scum" at RMAS. Don't worry about it, some of the people who hold forth on the "Officers" forum on this site could not get jobs sweeping the floor at RMAS. The British Army is a very professional organisation and I would not worry about conforming to stereotpes.

    You will meet quite a few posh O/CDTs at Sandhurst but the vast majority of the posh types are good guys who were lucky enough to come from rich families and you will probably get on well with them and can learn a bit of "social polish" by observing them. This will come in handy later in your career.

    You will get a few pretenders who try to act like something from Evelyn Waugh but don't let them intimidate you as reality forces them to pull their heads in pretty quickly. I would focus on developing an appropriate professional manner for when you are on the job, much like junior doctors are encouraged to develop "bedside manners", and just acting like one of the blokes when you are in the mess. In other words, be yourself, and behave in much the same way as you be expected to in any other profession or civil service department and you will have no dramas.

    Good Luck!

    PS Joining the TA after you graduate is also a good idea because a) An OC's recommendation will probably carry a lot of weight with the board and b) will demonstrate an interest in the Army as it is in reality rather than in the glossy recruitiment brochures. It will also give you the chance to lay the foundations of a professional reputation as a "good bloke who one can rely on" which will be invaluable throughout your career.

    PPS I am not certain about the "postman" advice. I would have thought that a year in a managerial/professional job combined with TA service and a high level of fitness whould enhance your level of maturity and make you a more attractive proposition to the board as this would clearly signal that you are not joining the Army out of desperation. However, I know that such jobs are hard to find at the moment and any job is better than the dole.

    PPPS Have you thought about doing a Masters degree or PGCE? This would allow you the chance to obtain an OTC CO's recommendation, a year to get super fit fit and may give you a significant competitive advantage against the other candidates at Westbury. According to previous posts your first degree is in History so a Masters in Military History, thesis on the applications on Frank Kitson's book to contemporary operations may advance your standing quite a bit? Just an idea...............

    PPPPS (Now I'm taking the P) Are "O" type engagements a thing of the past?

    Anyway mate, you'll figure it out but get back to the books as you only have a couple of months to go!
    Good Luck!
  7. This looks like souind advice all around - I would perhaps not aim to show the qualities of a sub-unit commander (twelve years after commissioning, minimum) but rather the qualities reqd for a Troop/Platoon Commander.

    Decide how long it'll take for YOU to be ready for AOSB, then decide hhow to best fill the void between now and then - more study, a job, some TA.

    And no, "O types" are not still about and even gap year commissions (that you're beyond) aren't about (I think)...
  8. Not true, you could find yourself as a Coy 2ic and thus being in defacto command for significant periods as a fairly junior capt. Particularly likely given current operational tempo.
  9. And a good thing too, the RAC one up at Catterick was a nightmare!
  10. True, but it is stated quite explicitly on multiple occasions during AOSB Brief and Main Board that AOSB are looking to recruit platoon / troop commanders. From that, the next Coy 2ic / CGS will rise, but not by being selected for that at AOSB.

    Of course, a knowledge of structure, and the roles of officers one will be working closely with is no bad thing.
  11. I'd like to think that you would be doing Coy 2IC as a fairly senior Captain (2nd tour at least) -so that's 6 years after commissioning. And as Coy 2IC you don't routinely command the sub-unit, just get the reins for short periods, with support. Yes, there may be times on ops when this goes out the window, but AOSB look for the qualities of an officer, not the qualities of a sub-unit cvommander, stuff you develop over at least 10 years and then chuck in Staff College and sub-unit comds courses.
  12. Nice theory! In reality the law of sod states that Terry will bump you when the CSM and the OC are away. Therefore, a 2ic needs to be able to be a competent Coy Commander.

    Don't take this as criticism but you are joining a "war time" army and need to face the reality that you will be making life and death decisions, that you will have to justify later, if only to yourself.

    Make sure that you have the resilience to be able to do so.

    In the real world, if you proove trustworthy, you will have a hell of a lot of responsibility at a very young age. Do not take this on without considering the consequences.

    However, it is only my opinion based upon a few tours of the sand pit and the stan as a middle ranking diplomatic officer(LtCol equiv) with an allied Commonwealth Service.

    Make up your own mind and determine that you are signing up for a f***ing difficult job. Focus on the reality not the bullshit!

    Good luck lads!
  13. Hence my statement on ops occassionally chucking the norm out the window - yes the Coy 2IC of an Inf Bn (2nd tour captain?? So 6 years in? Probably getting "Dev" in the Sub-unit comd boxes) may find himself in charge when the OC goes on R&R or away for a bit and no-one else can reinforce, but this is not the same thing as it being the usual state of affairs - I would wager that the heirarchy do not expect junior captains (or even senior if this is when you're given Coy 2IC - it's slightly different in the RA) to be competent sub-unit commanders. If they were, everyone would be promoted first look, ICSC(L) and sub-unit comd courses would be irrelevant (less for the staff work aspect) and why would you need to be a Major to do sub-unit comd anyway - other nations think this way?

    I still think that AOSB are looking for the potential leadership qualities necessary for an officer and the potential command requisites for junior command. Your time as a Tp Comd will prepare you for more senior appointments (incl Sub-unit 2IC) and your time in those appts and as Adjt (if you do that) prepare you more for Sub unit comd.
  14. Mate! Expect the unexpected! You are signing up for a tough job develop enough mental flexibility to deal with it.
  15. Jack - I am in - I have experienced sub-unit command (though not on Ops unfortunately) and I deal with the unexpected so often, that the expected would probably knock me for six.

    Mental flexibility? Remembering my log-in and task list takes care of that!

    I am merely trying to point out that by preparing to be the CO of a Regt, or even the OC of a sub-unit, may be preparing TOO much for AOSB. Tiny steps toward a distant target.