Motivation for being an Officer - Sorry for the naff title

Discussion in 'Officers' started by Ace_Rimmer, Dec 11, 2008.

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. I'm struggling with the best way to put this without it sounding presumptuous or insulting to anyone so please don't take offence!

    Could (should) the main reason someone wants to be an Officer in the Army be summed up as "I want to command soldiers"?

    Would it be more honest for the majority of applicants/serving officers to say "I want to be in the Army and I feel I am good enough to be an officer so therefore I'll be one"?

    Let's face it, how many people would choose to join as a soldier when they could be an officer? However, the roles and lifestyle are so different that surely it shouldn't come down to which one is "best".

    The reason I'm asking this is that I'm at a stage where I may be accepted for Sandhurst and although I've ignored the desire for a few years, it is something that I've wanted to do since I was about 12! However, I'm also very interested in a role in the RAF where you enter as an NCO.

    This has lead me to think about my motivation for joining either role. I've always felt that I could be "Officer calibre" and I know a number of serving officers (not all of which I have that much respect for) so I find it quite hard to accept the idea of "settling" for being an NCO. It's not that either role would be easier or any less important but it feels like the NCO role represents a limit of achievement. Does that make sense?

    Anyone got any thoughts on the issue (motivation in general not just my strange situation)?
  2. Why does Airman Aircrew seem to be a limit of achievement? There are commissioning routes for Airman Aircrew and it doesn't stop at SNCO. You need to work out what you want to do and then see what fits best. You are trying to compare apples and oranges here. The AA route would not see you in charge of as many people as early and then you'd be more in charge of a group of peers rather than subordinates. It would be far more mission focused in the AA role and far less of the admin & welfare roles you'll find elsewhere. Why not RAF Officer and only the AA role compared to the Army?
  3. Do you own a shirt with either a Breast pocket or butoon cuffs......if so youre destined for the RAF i'm afraid.
  4. There are whole libraries on this, but I offer the following:

    1. Motivation is boosted when other people depend on you to lead them (the difference between being in front with the map instead of trudging along behind).
    2. It's a pretty small jump from being motivated to having fun (a little bit frightening as well). Equally, not being motivated is pretty close to being bored.
    3. On the whole, officers have more choice regarding what they do and don't do.
  5. I know my situation is like comparing apples to oranges and if you like, that's the point. How can BOTH roles appeal? If I had the luxury of choice between the two then I would take the Army Officer option for sure but I think a part of that would be the fact that I would feel I've achieved more by being an Officer in the Army.

    Incidentally, there are no Officer roles in the RAF that appeal, as apart from the RAF Regiment (!!!! No thanks!) and pilot officers, there aren't any "active" roles. If possible I would definitely want a combat role in either service.

    I wanted to open this up to a wider discussion that just my decision as I'm sure that a lot of applicants and serving officers take a lot of pride/kudos from their position and therefore it does serve as a motivator (even if it's not mentioned as often).
  6. What are you basing your bias against the RAF Regt on then? The spoutings on an Army banter forum? If you are not willing to look at things with an open mind, then best you go to the Army as you intend. Also - if you think that there are no 'active' roles in the RAF - dream on - unless your definition of active is blatting off rounds as an infantry officer.

    Only you can decide what you want and you are allowed to be drawn to different roles and jobs - which is why we have 3 Services. If you need some Army officers telling you how great their world is to motivate you then you'll not like it - you need to want it yourself - whatever it is.
  7. I'm clearly still hungover, but I'll bite.

    I'm sure you meant well, old boy, but don't ever again refer to being a non-commissioned officer as something you "settle" for - even in parentheses. You can achieve just as much as an officer as you can as an NCO. It's a matter of temperament. Your temperament will define your goals. Want to always be out front? Go enlisted. Want to always be in the back? Go civil service. Want a mixture? Go officer. My future best man graduated from King's College London and ended up at ATR Winchester. Did I expect him to go to RMAS? Absolutely. Did he make the right choice? Absolutely. He was a born NCO, regardless of the fact that he hailed from a public school and went to uni, because he had a certain character. Welcome to the modern British Army.

    Social class does still factor in. We feel more comfortable around those with similar backgrounds. But do try to move on from this point as soon as possible, because we live in the 21st century. You'll be saving yourself years of grief. Trust me - I focused on antiquated notions of social class for far too long rather than simply finding where I fit in. I paid the price for this.

    Just because your current social circle includes officers doesn't mean you should become one, nor that you are suitable to be one. Affluence increases the likelihood hood of becoming an officer, but it is not required. Nor is it by any means a credible basis for becoming a modern officer.

    I'm also not going to deny that many who become soldiers still don't have the luxury of being able to choose between officer and enlisted entry. Too many still lack the educational opportunities necessary to consider officer entry. But you're evidently not in that category. You have the choice.

    I don't think a desire to command, as you put it, will see you through. Command is "go do this". Leadership is "follow me". Reading over my old RCB report, I was surprised to read how many times the word 'caring' was used as a standard. Those words separate simple command from actual leadership. NCOs and officers lead. If you have an instinctive paternal streak - always trying to help people advance in their lives and careers is a good indicator - then you might have what it takes to be a leader. Then the question is what kind of leader:

    With officers and NCOs, we're talking the difference between being a doctor and a nurse - each has different roles. One makes macro decisions and coordinates with higher ups. The other takes care of day-to-day business and implements the other's decisions. One's more technical, one's a generalist. Through experience, NCOs usually have more competence on the junior officer side of things than junior officers have on the NCO side, but don't let that fool you into thinking this reduces the need for both to coexist. Both types of mindsets are necessary for the Army to reach its fullest potential. There's also significant overlap: the necessary traits for leadership are the same.

    Having had some brief exposure on the officer side of things and then moved to another country and enlisted (the reverse of what's usual), I can confirm that some people are also unsuited to being enlisted men. I can't tell you how many times I got told off for putting my hands on my hips because that apparently demonstrated an "I'm in charge attitude" (those crazy Yanks :)) and other shenanigans. "Different strokes for different folks". Figured out who you are, not who you or others want you to be.

    I might add that being a "posh Briton" did not stop me from becoming fast friends with Native-American rednecks and half-Mexican/half-German drunkards. All splendid fellows, and you'll find the same calibre of men in every infantry platoon in the British Army. Regardless of the role you choose, you will make friends - officers, NCOs and enlisted - as long as you treat them with the respect they deserve.

    One thing I can assure you of as well, is that an enlisted man with leadership potential will be spotted and promoted appropriately. And having enlisted experience does stand you in good stead as a leader because it increases your empathy and 360-degree understanding of how an organization works. You'll find that those two factors often separate successful leaders from unsuccessful ones, so any extra dose of those things can only help.

    Here in the US, where larger numbers make the transition from enlisted to officer, prior enlisted are referred to as "mustangs" and automatically held in higher regard because they're more familiar with the way things work. Now, if only the Yanks had a proper appreciation of port, French cuffs and cords...
  8. Thanks for the reply and I can understand your attitude towards my post. I didn't mean that I wanted help making the decision as such. I was after people's opinion on what their motivations were for joining as an officer and did they remain the same once in the job.

    I'm a bit of an eliteist and quite competitive so I'd like to think I would do the very best I can. IF I was 18 and very fit I would no doubt be trying to get into the Paras or RM. If I wanted to do an infantry type role then the RAF Regiment is not something I would entertain.

    Maybe I have a bit of an ego but a large part of wanting to join the forces is to look in the mirror and know that I'm doing a worthwhile and respectable job. I currently have a great job and my earning potential is far greater than it would be in the forces but I actually dislike myself for staying in this job for so long!
  9. Blimey! I very comprehensive reply so I'll try to answer suitably.

    In my eyes an Officer is "higher" than an NCO. That's all I meant by that. There are higher entry requirements, more intensive training, longer career opportunities, more responsibility etc. etc. so there IS a difference. Is one BETTER than the other? No. They aren't in the same competition. Which leads me to agree fully with the next part:

    Absolutely! That's really my point. Unfortunately, it's a decision that you make without ANY experience whatsoever.

    My apologies, I didn't explain that bit very clearly. Actually, socially I'm much more of a Soldier/NCO type. My education is good and I feel I have some very good qualities but I'm certainly not the stereotype of a WW2 officer. I meant that of the people I know, some of them are simply not as clever, not as educated, with less natural leadership ability and yet they are still serving officers! That sounds very arrogant, I know. I just hope that Westbury and Sandhurst saw things that weren't obvious!

    Again, I couldn't agree with you more. I'm definitely more of a paternal type. I genuinely enjoy motivating and developing others (I'm a martial arts instructor) and I'm absolutely at my best when at the front. This is what worries me about being an NCO. At the end of the day you ARE NOT the decision maker and leader. You are A leader and make decisions but that's not the same thing.

    If I'm totally honest, I don't think I would ever get to Lt Col or higher (for example) if I went in as an officer but I feel I could probably hang in for the full 22 if I joined the RAF. I also think the RAF would offer an enjoyable and challenging career that in some ways would be preferable to the Army.

    I think the main issue is that I'm looking for a career to spend the best part of my life doing, so I want to make sure I'm giving myself the best opportunity but at the same time (and maybe more importantly) offering the very best that I can to the job itself!

    As per my above post, I don't want to focus on the ins and outs of my procrastination, more examine why people chose one route over the other and what their GENUINE motivation for it was.

    I'm sure that almost 100% of those that ended up with a commission had a very different attitude at that point, than when they first started the application.

    * Also, please don't think that I have any disregard for NCOs of any of the services. I know the vital experience and skills that they bring are irreplaceable and in many ways they are what hold the services together.
  10. Mr Happy

    Mr Happy LE Moderator

    Its an interesting conversation and there are pluses and minuses to both routes as careers. For me, what woudl settle it is this:

    1. What pays more money
    2. Whats harder to achieve.

    As its harder to be an Officer Cadet than a Recruit. I'd advise to try for a commission. that the pay is better is just good news!

    The actual job may not be more rewarding, may be harder and may have bigger consequences - that is when you find out if you made the right choice.

    Would I want a commission in the Cav? No. Would I want a commission in the RLC - absolutely. Perhaps the OP should look at the roles of officers and NCO's in several parts of the army and then compare.

    For reasons I am not sure about, The RM seem to want 4 GCSE's before they'll let you join, which ISTR is what the Regular army wanted for a SSVC.

    Mr H
    Posh NCO (retired)
  11. Mr Happy

    Mr Happy LE Moderator

    Errm, my tweed shirt has button cuffs, but then the man at G&H said that was acceptable for when shooting on the estate. Do I need to go to RAF Honington now?
  12. The Sandhurst motto is 'Serve to Lead'. I think that is an excellent way to capture the motivation level required to commission. If you want to do it to serve others more than for yourself as a selfish goal, then a career as an army officer maybe just the ticket.

    At Sandhurst the idea is that the Officer Cadets don't get huge amounts of encouragement when out on runs and tabs etc because they have to have the ability to self motivate. This is an essential tool as the young officer will have the responsibility ofmotivating those around him to do what they might not ordinarily want to do.
  13. Let me just add for the record that I regret writing my post while hung over (although my spelling was impeccable). At least it was better than my usual posts, which are usually written on a sugar high or post imbibing spirits and always end up as overthought gibberish (my pms to people are sometimes worse). In fact, even my username derives from such an aberrant state: when I watched my future wife wolf down an American pop tart pastry, imagined the only way they could get worse - cheese on top - and forgot that back home we have tarts that listen to cheesy pop.

    Anyway, what it comes down to is Ace, is go with your gut. Your gut obviously tells you to go officer. Do it, then. Now visit as many regiments, corps and service arms as you can. Then go with whatever feels most comfortable. Wherever you think you'll be happy, regardless of what others think of expect of you. No amount of talking on ARRSE will help you solve your conundrum. Now be a good sport and venture forth to find your future home.

    There, could have saved myself a good twenty minutes...
  14. cpunk

    cpunk LE Moderator

    If breast pockets or 'butoon' cuffs on shirts cause you any kind of social anxiety, I'd recommend a career in hairdressing or interior design.
  15. :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D

    Having commissioned from the ranks myself, I agree with the sentiments about the difference between command and leadership. I felt a strong bond of kinship with my SNCOs and JNCOs. Mrs Chaos got very cross when I referred to the troops as my second family, but they were just that. Sidney Jary suggests that sound leadership is comparable, and perhaps related to love. Take the plunge, the rewards beat any 6 figure salary hands down! To emphasise someone else's point - don't tell us arrsers how good you are, PROVE it to the commissioning board. After RMAS, prove it to your soldiers on a daily basis.