Precocity in the British Army officer corps


Like many ARRSErs I am quite interested in military history, and always enjoy reading about miscellany such as thirteen-year old captains who'd had commissions purchased for them in the Peninsula War (etc). Then you read the occasional Torygraph obit of a WW2-era officer who joined the TA in 1935 then quit the army in '46 as a Brigadier, presumably having had a good war (and so on).

OTOH, people like my father-in-law, who spent about a hundred and fifty years in the army but who joined after WW2, spent most of their life waiting for Russians and enjoyed less meteoric career progression, CR'ing at Lt. Col or whatever.

This brings me onto today's officer corps. Given the considerable level of operational experience young officers have nowadays, are "flyers" more prevalent? Without breaching PERSEC, what are the youngest ages people are hitting middle and senior ranks nowadays, and how do they do it?

This sprang to mins when I was at a hotel bar recently and there was a wedding reception going on. At this wedding was a dashing uniformed RE Major, bedecked with more medals than you could shake a stick at. To my jaded mind he looked about twelve. Saying that, he was surrounded by lovely young women, so good luck to you my son (etc).

So, are younger people shooting up the ranks or is Col. Collins' rebuke about Seniors more interested in the Rhinedalen horse show a bit off-beam?


This is a reply that immediately paints the target! Selection of the Flyer seems far more streamlined these days. With the right combination of place, opportunity and a modicom of native intelligence, one can do a triple jump from Maj to Brig withing a very few years. Go Pink at 38, be lucky enough to get a regimental tour first off, marry that up with a "good" operational deployment = DSO and swift elevation to the Blueat the age of 40+. One tour as a Col, perhaps using the recent operational experience and one can bounce up to Brigin one's 44th year. There is a temptation to sneer at the new crop of "Boy Brownings". To do so would be rash as, almost universally, I have found them to be the sharpest chisels in the tool box (and no, my Guv'nor isn't reading this over my shoulder, nor dictating it to me!). yes, there are lots of perhaps equally deserving potential Napoleons who will not have to golden convergence of ability and opportunity and that, I'm afraid, is just the way life is. On the other hand, if the Army only knew what talents they had overlooked in Rickshaw................:)
Well, unlike the days of yesteryear, there are strict limitations on when one can and cannot be promoted. The chap you met must have been on Age-based Terms Of Service (ATOS) if he's a Major, which means he must have been at least 30.

On the new Length of Service Terms of Service (LTOS), one must complete 2 years' Regimental Duty to go from 2Lt to Lt (grads start as a Lt), then 3 years RD for promo to Capt. One then has to jump through a variety of hoops and complete a total of 11 years' reckonable service to become elligible for promotion to Maj.

So, in theory, a school leaver who goes to RMAS at 18, leaves aged 19, will still get first shot at majority at age 30.

A graduate who goes to RMAS aged 21 and leaves aged 22 (with 3 years' reckonable service gratis) will get first shot a majority at age 30 as well.

Thus, ATOS and LTOS fall into line with one another and anyone wearing a crown should be at least 30. If they're younger then either the rank is Local (Acting Rank should not be given to someone who isn't qualified for promotion in all other respects) or some serious strings have been pulled to make a flyer fly.

Its easy to spot a flyer. A flyer is defined as anyone younger or with less service time than you who has promoted before you. They can also be defined as arrse-kissers, brown-nosers and 90% of the officer corps.
Heck, Idle Adjt has just placed me in yet another persecuted minority. In addition to be being white, male, middle aged, supposedly middle class and in the military, I am now part of the 10% of the officer corps who are/have been celebrating the feast of the passed-over. At this rate I should be elibible for a hat full of government and EU grants..........and a column in the Grauniad. Excellent!

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