TA Commission before RegCommission - good or bad?

Discussion in 'Officers' started by musicalmarvin, Mar 7, 2005.

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  1. I've been offered to go to Sandhurst for a TA (Gp B) Commission this summer. I am about to go into my final year at University/OTC, and am bound to go to the Army afterwards (due to bursary). Would like to know what you wise bods think about this. My opinion here is:

    Pros -
    bit of extra dosh.
    bit of experience doing some of more of the admin sides of OTC.
    a bit of Sandhurst experience

    Cons -
    Spending 3 weeks at Sandhurst a year before heading there for the RegCourse.
    Perhaps arriving at Sandhurst (for the regular course) with a distorted/incorrect view of what is expected of an officer.

    Personally, I have not been too impressed with the 2Lts (B) that the OTCs have. They seem to have a sense of superiority which seems to be undeserved.

    Be grateful for your opinions

  2. Why not? 3 weeks learning your way around the place, tuning into what's expected, getting a more in depth knowledge of, for example doctrine, 7 Qs, etc , will help. Just don't turn up on the reg course and expect that it will gain you extra points with your coy staff because it won't.

    As for your list B colleagues - well... they're big fish in a diminutive pond and they'll find that out if they ever go list A or reg, and especially if they take that attitude with them to RMAS. You seem to have them sussed, so take note and use the time as any normal list A subbie would - learning as much as you can. If you're 20-21 years old (?) you may find that year a useful baptism of command, albeit in a limited fashion. There are a lot of threads on the TA forum about YOs and how they learn - you might find them useful.
  3. You go for the TA commision and you're taking the slot of someone else who may plan on staying as a TA bod. Heard a rumour that the army won't let you do it anymore as it wastes a slot at TA sandhurst, obviously rumour is wrong.

    I say no, but wouldn't blame you either way.
  4. Marvin, if it's been offered - and you have the time - and you're reasonably serious about the Army as a career, then do it.

    You have already identified the potential pitfalls - and as we know, the first stage in avoiding a trap is being aware of its existence!

    Being a little bit savvy at RMAS is no bad thing IMHO - but be aware that there will be people there who have far more experience and ability than you - which you already are!

    Don't turn down the chance to go - lots of people either haven't got the drive to do TCB/TA Commision et al, and even more aren't up to the standard required.

    Good luck!
  5. Cheers for those pearls of wisdom. Will wait till wednesday (when I have to tell the CO). Any more opinions will be much appreciated.
  6. Bob - I'm doing a similar thing to Marvin- I'm a Bursar, currently at uni, and am starting Direct Entry TA Oficer training in a couple of weeks. I asked my sponsor whether they took a dim view of having a subbie who's only going to be of any use (by that I mean for making coffee and as a human paperweight) four a year and a half - and they did'nt at all. I didnt pick up on this 'slot-filling' reasoning, but perhaps that's just particular to this unit. Sound things out - but like those far wiser than me have said - take the opportunity to get used to Sandhurst and the orders protocol if you're offered.
  7. I followed the route that you are thinking about, at the moment I am still at uni thinking about going regular sometime and was at an OTC with officers that were (to use a better word) a joke, however I decided to go for a Grp A commission and now I am a troop commander in the artillery with 25 guys to look after. It is a lot of hard work, but it pays rewards when you get into it.
    With regards with taking a TA commission first before going regular, I say go for it because as some of the other replies and from my experience there the place is daunting when you first go there and the things you learn are hard (ish), so with the 3 weeks experience you might feel more at home for the first term there.
    But as someone has already said, dont boast about it, just use your knowledge to your own advantage, but especially use it to help your peers as you are all in the long run together. An example of this is one of the OTC officers at the moment went to Sandhurst with me and of course with only a Grp B commission, but they think they were God's gift to the OTC, they tried to pull rank with my BSM and he put them in their box. So if you do decide what to do, go Grp A - its hard work but you will get a lot more experience out of it.
  8. Go for it.
  9. In the style of Starsky and Hutch:

    'Do it...Do it... y'know...Do it.'
  10. DangerMouse

    DangerMouse Old-Salt Moderator

    This question was asked a while ago, at http://www.arrse.co.uk/cpgn/index.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=7641.

    Personally, I believe that as long as you do not succumb to the "...this one time, at OTC..." syndrome, when you eventually reach RMAS, then any experience of the place can only be to your benefit when you begin the Commissioning Course. I would however suggest deliberately not highlighting your TA experience for most of first term: better to blend in.

    The main advantage is that having already undertaken a course there - albeit something of an attendance course - is that the "shock of capture" during the first couple of weeks on the regular course is reduced. Since you're less nervous, it all seems easier. In any event, I can see no disadvantage to doing it; and the extra money, and not being at the bottom of the food chain at OTC, can't hurt you!
  11. TA Direct Entrants going for Gp A Commissions now have priority over OTC candidates going for Gp B. HOWEVER, it is extremely unlikely that any of this year's 3 TACCs (module 4s) will be fully loaded from the RTCs and even if they were fully loaded, if you don't ask you won't get and there are always last-minute drop-outs.

    So my advice is get in there and get the experience while you can.
  12. It did me no harm being commissioned whilst in the OTC; albeit in them days there was no fortnight at Sandhurst to worry about - just a week on CMT course/exam...followed by DCB. I had to go to Leeds for mine and a day in Leeds is a damn siight less pleasant than a fortnight in sunny Hampshire!!
  13. It did me no harm being commissioned whilst in the OTC; albeit in them days there was no fortnight at Sandhurst to worry about - just a week on CMT course/exam...followed by DCB. I had to go to Leeds for mine and a day in Leeds is a damn siight less pleasant than a fortnight in sunny Hampshire!!
  14. I believe you would find it to be a very worthwhile course of action, but probably not for the reasons that immediately come to mind.

    Get the commission on offer and, while recognising the limitations, use it as a springboard for learning. Avoid training with the OTC.

    As soon as you are commissioned ask the OTC Adj if he can put you in touch with any local TA infantry battalions that may be short of platoon commanders, as you would like to train with them. If he drags his feet or otherwise proves reluctant, then get on the internet and find the units in your area. Then simply walk into the targetted battalion HQ coy on any working day and ask for an appointment with their Adj. Tell the Adj you are interested in training with them and again ask if he has a slot for a plat. cmdr. He will ask the CO and if there is a slot then past experience tells me that he will happily accomodate you. You will be doing him a favour. The Inf. Adj will handle the paperwork for getting you paid. If there isn't a slot in a rifle company, then go find another infantry unit, do not accept a slot with Bn HQ Coy. You will likely stagnate in Bn HQ coy (been there, done that) and learn little of direct relevance to you at Sandhurst.

    Once you have been assigned a rifle company then get hold of Pamphlet 45 Basic Platoon Tactics (or whatever it is called these days) and read it from cover to cover. Your OTC may have a copy you can sign out, but if not you can get a copy from Bn HQ once you are in. You will be assigned you own platoon and now things will get good. Primarily you will find out by trial and error what will and will not work for real. On training evenings you may find that you are called upon to teach obstacle crossing - you will be given a week or two early warning and are forced you to learn the subject (the best way to learn something is to have to teach it). At the end of the weekday training evening there is generally a bar for everybody men, officers uncommissioned and otherwise and it is a good place to learn more. The TA are generally a great bunch of guys who take their soldiering seriously. If I had a particular issue that I thought I should have known the answer to and so didn't want to raise it with the coy cmdr, I would take the TA- CSM to one side and ask his advice. I would also do the same with his counterpart, a regular WO2 PSI. Both gentlemen knew the score (inexperienced junior officer a bit lost) and because they were both professional they were very happy to help. My Plat Sgt and three section commanders were excellent and carried me through one or two dodgy moments. And in time, as my experience grew, I was able to reciprocate the favour.

    Aim to do at least 4 field weekends before Sandhurst and more if can at all manage it. If time is short stay away from range days, they are not as beneficial to you. Four weekends with your own platoon gives you 8 days of direct platoon command experience with your own thinking, breathing, wet, cold and tired platoon. My brother was at Sandhurst when the regular commissioning course was +- 7 months (it may still be for all I know). I held a TA commission at the same time. We worked it out and he grudgingly admitted (he was a reg, after all) that I had more practical platoon commander time in 4 weekends than he had in 7 months at Sandhurst. As the cadet platoon has 30 OCDTs spread over 7 months no one gets much more than a few days in a plat. cmdrs. role during the limited time available for field exercises. My brother did have more time as cadet section commander, sec 2i/c, platoon sergeant and a lot more time as cadet rifleman. Useful yes, but not the same thing as experiencing the buck stopping with you, the platoon commander. In my first four weekends there was FIBUA, defence and withdrawal, battalion FIWAF patrolling/ambushing exercise, and a platoon attack nearly every weekend (the men liked it and expected it so we did it and it was of great benefit to me). Your voice procedure, night navigation and patrolling technique will all improve. The first time I put patrol orders together for a complex platoon night patrol it took me 2 days. A couple of more goes and I was down to four hours, for warn order, recce, orders prep, model, briefing, day and night rehearsal. This will be bread and butter at Sandhurst and so a good idea to get down pat beforehand.

    There are other related learning opportunities. Three months into my commission I became acting company commander for the weekend. The coy cmdr was unable to make the weekend. The company 2i/c who should have taken over, was moved to battalion intelligence officer for two days, leaving yours truely to attend the COs O group and take orders for the company. The CO was a regular infantry Lt Col. and ex-22 SAS. He recognized my inexperience in the role, was very supportive and he worked around my limitations to help me get a good result - I learned something more. Again this was all good unexpected experience that gives you an inkling into how senior management think and work. Few regular junior officers get this.

    The only benefit of remaining around the OTC is that the female cadets seem to find you a lot more interesting once you are commissioned ! I really should have taken more advantage of this than I did. Go for the OTC parties and have the best of both worlds.

    If you choose to follow the above advice and find it was not worthwhile I will buy you a pint.

    Good luck for the future.
  15. Now that is the first piece of completely unimpeachable advice given on this board!!