Sandhurst Vs. Westpoint

Discussion in 'Officers' started by tsar_Nikolas, Nov 24, 2005.

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  1. Just caught a channel four news broadcast about Westpoint, and it got me people prefer the one year direct entry style of officer training like Sandhurst, or the three year degree style officer training they do at Westpoint? I know the Canadians have a Westpoint style and a Direct style, though the Direct style appears to be going out of the window. A Canadian officer once told me they tried to get rid of the three year style in favour of a Sandhurst style entry...what do people think?
  2. As it was explained to me, by a training officer from Westpoint, there isn't as much of an emphesis on military skills at Westpoint as at RMAS. This I believe is especially proved when the Cup is competed for.
  3. West Point is four years, not three and is pretty much a university with extras. Most of the warry-type training is done over the summer and once the regular school year starts the focus is very much on regular university classes- albeit most of them being tougher than at most universities- with some "character-building" stuff and phys on the side.

    The fact that it is pretty much a university first can be witnessed with things like the athletic department. High school kids are recruited to play sports, much like any other US University. Many football players are exempt from things like weight limits because they would, quite literally, get killed when they went up against other teams. (We have one guy on our team that is 6'6 and is listed at 360lbs- or 25.7St and most people think that's an understatement) Furthermore, the most promising athletes can often get out of the regular commitment to the US Army if they get an offer from the NFL or NBA.

    An excellent book on a Cadet's life at West Point is "Absolutely American" by David Lipsky. He's a journo from Rolling Stone who had unlimited access to the place for 4 years.
  4. I guess it all depends on whether you want to be

    a) A (reasonably) well-rounded, mission-command-orientated, 'buy-your-specs-and-haircut-from-a-civilian-supplier' type of officer,


    b) A CNUT!
  5. Surely the longer one is "training" in a military type environment and not living in the real world or putting that training to the practical test the the more "institutionalised" and hidebound one is going to be when finaly exposed to soldiers and an uncontrolled environment? Spending three or four years learning to fend for oneself, even within the slightly cushioned university life must produce a more adaptable individual.

    BTW I gather that West Point isn't the only way in, there's also some sort of Officer Candidate School, how does that work?
  6. West Point is, in fact, only one of a number of military universities in the USA: others include The Citadel and The Virginia Military Institute, as well as Norwich University - not strictly a "military school" in the same sense as the others, but it has a very heavy military emphasis.

    These places only produce about 10% of the US Army officer corps - West Pointers are regarded as being highly disciplined/ motivated and more than a tad arrogant. "The Point" is sometimes referred to as "Prussia on the Hudson" (it's located on the River Hudson, New York State) and its graduates as "Ring Knockers" on account of their alleged habit of emphasising points in debate by knocking their class rings on the table. It should also be noted that quite a lot of West Point grads (and Citadel & VMI grads) do not proceed to a career in the Regular Army, but go on to do other things in the civilian world (business/ commerce, medicine, law, engineering, politics or whatever) whilst serving either in the Reserves or National Guard. Same applies re US Naval Academy, Annapolis, and the Air Force Academy. There's also a US Coastguard Academy in Connecticut. Although you can "major" in history, political science, languages etc at W Point, there is a very heavy emphasis on applied science/ engineering (everyone has to take a minimum number of courses in maths/ science & technology) and most specialise in these areas. Citadel and VMI are more humanities/ social science orientated and grads tend to have majored in these areas.

    Most (70%) of regular US Army officers are graduates of the "Reserve Officer Training Course" program (ROTC) that runs in over 200 American universities/ colleges. They study "Military Science" (mil hist, admin, tactics/ strategy etc), basic mil skills, leadership etc as an integral part of their degree courses (for which academic credit is awarded) and attend 2 intensive periods of training (typically 6-8 weeks duration) during Summer vacations, usually at end of the "Sophomore" (2nd) and "Junior" (3rd) or "Senior" (4th) years. If you commit to Regular Army service (many do not - they take ROTC courses simply out of interest/ "suck is and see" etc) after the first two years at univ (note - nearly all US degree courses last 4 years) then you get a stipend that will cover a large part of tuition fees (typically $10-20,000 a year in a public univ; $30,000 plus if private or if you're from another state!) for the rest of your course - a big incentive! Upon graduation - assuming you've successfully completed the advanced summer course - you are commissioned and then proceed directly to special-to-arm training with your chosen branch. The commitment is usually for 5 years in the regs plus similar period in reserve/ NG if you decide to leave at earliest permitted exit point. Colin Powell was a product of the ROTC program at City College, New York, so not being a "Ring Knocker" is not, contrary to received wisdom, a career foul in terms of promotion to the highest rank. ROTC programs also run for Navy, Air Force & Marine Corps. The National Guard also runs a similar program (GOLD - "Guard Officer Leadership Development") in some universities.

    About 20% of regular officers are commissioned via the "Officer Candidate School". This is for serving enlisted soldiers identified as having exceptional leadership potential. Most will have served for at least 3 years (more typically 5 to 6 years) and must either have got a bachelor's degree (typically via correspondence course/ evening classes etc) or most of the credits towards one. The course is an intensive 14 weeks and about 20-30% fail it. OCS officers are generally regarded as being the best small unit leaders; even West Pointers concede this one.

    As in so many other ways, it's the USMC that is most like the British Army. All potential regular officers are graduates - some from USNA Annapolis; many via the Marine ROTC program, and some recruited directly from univ without prior mil experience. Whatever their background, however, all most complete the Platoon Leader's Course at Quantico - much more akin to the Sandhurst Commissioning Course than any of the other routes of entry for officers into the US military. It's wholly military in emphasis and uses small unit infantry tactics as the medium for developing leadership etc..

    So, comparing West Point with RMAS is really not meaningful - they're fundamentally different institutions with very different aims. The nearest one could have got to the West Point experience in the British Army would have been (prior to ending of undergrad courses at RMCS Shrivenham) - as a hypothetical! - something like Household Div "Brigade Squad"/ POC followed by degree course at Shrivenham interspersed with OTC type activities.

    Hope that's helpful?!
  7. It seems to be a recurring theme, that the USMC is the foreign force most similar to the British Army.

    From reading the sandhurst website, they abandoned the long course in 1992.
  8. Where is your Websters Kit?
  9. Where is your Websters Kit?
  10. IN MY HEAD.

    A small courtesy to any Septic readers, that's all.
  11. Is the film 'THE GENERALS DAUGHTER' based (however loosely)on an actual event at West Point when a female cadet was gang raped on manouvers in her sophomore year?
  12. An interesting point (ahaha) is that students at West Point pay no fees (or didn't when Stormin' Norm went through it).

    This must also increase competition for places. Not that they're undersubscribed or anything.
  13. woopert

    woopert LE Moderator

    I know that Annapolis you have to have a recommendation from your Senator, who is allowed to nominate a fixed number of candidates from his/her state depending on it's size/demographic. State Governors also nominate. Usually the Senatorial nominations come from scholarships and the Junior ROTC programme (similar to Welbeck CCF). I wouldn't be surprised if West Point were similar.
  14. I do find it scary that most US Army regular officers are commissioned after the equivalent of a Brit OTC course. BTW there are a number of different ways for USMC officers to commission but as someone said all must do some training at the OCS at Quantico, the length varies. Even Naval Academy cadets must spend one or two summers there. After commissioning all USMC officers attend the 6-month Basic School at Quantico before special-to-arm training. Marine OCS plus Basic School is probably the closest US equivalent to RMAS.

    My problem with US officer training in general is that most of their training is post commissioning. does anyone else feel this is a problem?
  15. I think this was at least partially true when Norm Shwartzkopf went through (read his biography a couple of years ago). He had problems as he'd been a pad's brat, and moved around with his dad most of his life so had no association with any particular state, and therefore Senator. Can't remember how he got around it though.

    His descriptions of Westpoint (the use of senior cadets as "prefects" and the the honour system) made it seem more like the last few years of a boarding school (A, B and C Groups, anyone) than a college/university.