TA Officer Advice

Hey all, this is my first post so sorry if I’m posting in the wrong section or anything like that. I've done a search and there’s a few similar threads but my questions are fairly specific to my situation. Sorry its a fairly long post, I hope at least someone will bear with me!

I'm a 19 year old Student studying something called BSc Molecular Medicine at the University of Sussex. (Its a Clinical Biochemistry course.) It doesn't qualify me as a Doctor but I’m hoping to studying graduate entry medicine after this degree is done which will qualify me as a Doctor - its then my intention to join the RAMC. I was in the Cadets at School and College and both my parents work for the army. I went to a military nursery as child to - so to say I’m familiar with the army is an understatement. Helps growing up in Aldershot to! I don't however pretend to be any kind of expert (hence why I’m here asking advice).

I'd like to join the TA for a number of reasons, since coming to uni I deeply miss cadets and the passion I had for everything green, I’d like to meet new people, I’d like an experience that I can learn from and one which will bring me more out of my shell (one thing I’ve learnt the army is very good at!). I'd also like it for my application to study Medicine and as a preliminary training before joining the army if can.

I'd like to join as an officer cadet as I feel if I had joined the regular army upon leaving college it would be as an officer and if I join the regulars (which I intend to do) upon leaving university it will be as an officer. However I would sooner be in the TA as a soldier than not in it at all as many of my reasons for wanting to join still exist officer or not. However I’d like to try and join as an officer (aim high is the plan) for my earlier reasons.

My university doesn’t have a local OTC but does have two local TA detachments, a signals and a PWRR infantry company. There are also PWRR infantry companies back where I lived before uni and generally I hold an infantry officer in higher regard than a signals one (sorry no offence intended) so I’d like to join the PWRR coy for those and a couple of other reasons.

I guess I’m asking for general advice, do I stand a chance? The recruitment stuff has a fair few people who joined at uni and got their commission either in their last year or just after they left. I also have a few other specific questions:

1.) Would entry to a signals or even logistics unit be any easier than entry to an infantry unit?
2.) Do I actually stand a chance, Am I likely to get laughed at when I go down to the TAC.
3.) Any suggestions on what I can do to prepare, I plan to join in September.
4.) I’m having trouble understanding how an officer cadet fits into a working TA for example on a week night, can any one maybe elaborate on the relationship between a TA Officer Cadet and the soldiers/NCO’s and officers?
5.) I guess an off. Cdt. Doesn’t get much respect from… well… anyone – but that’s to be understood, what the general feeling like?

Any other suggestions people have and I’d be very grateful. Thanks a lot for helping and I hope I haven’t wasted too much of anyone’s time.

(Just a side note, I know some people aren’t hugely fond of their officers. Especially the young ones just out of, or god forbid still at university, basically I don’t want to hear it so please don’t tell me.)


Prolific, in order:

1. No, same qualifying route.
2. Yes you stand a chance, No you will not be laughed at, go down and speak to them.
3. Fitness and general knowledge (quality paper, understanding of current operations and commitments).
4. Depends on the unit. Expect to act as a soldier for a while, then move onto helping take lessons etc. You are there to learn, so expect to be treated as such.
5. Respect is earnt by the individual, not the rank slide. Your actions will drive the respect you earn.

Thanks very much Duke - Im glad to hear respect is earnt, thats really all one can ask. Cheers.

Anyone else thoughts are still welcome, the more views on it the better i suspect.

Oh a few other things i was wondering:

What level of fitness would I need upon joining? I'm aiming to get myself to regular army officer standards, running, sit ups etc. wise im fine - mainly working on some additional upper body strength (as that seems to be immensley important in the army). I know the physical requirements but how nessessary will it be to have those immiedietley? i understand the TA are rather more forgiving of soldiers who join slightly understrength - can the same be said for officers?

So i'd train with regular soldiers for the begining? that presumably is quite good as I think alot of people have more respect for you when you've been through what they have.
Go down the TAC and say you want to play. Do a year or so in the ranks first but this will probably be the case anyhow due to the length of the process. Your CO will probably want to have a chat with you to see what you are like. If he likes what he sees then you are away!

You will not join as a Ocdt but private (TAPO or TA Potential Officer). Ocdt is an appointment you get after Passing TAMB (TA Main Board).

Basic training will cover Module 1.

Mod 2 can be done with your local OTC (6 weekends) or RTC (12 weekends I think). As you will be with an Inf Regt do the OTC one as all of Mod 2 is Inf based and if you have not covered it already you can ask the experianced guys in your Coy if you have any burning questions. On top of this you will be training with other students which is always good for sh1ts and giggles and it is good to see how the others do it. Things tested include navigation, signals, 5 min lecturette, the 7 questions estimate and orders and some other stuff I have forgotten.

While all this is happening you will be reading up on your current affairs and practicing your mental arithmitic prepping for TA Briefing (1 Weekend) which is a jaunt to Westbury where they have a look at you to see if you have a chance of passing main board. More info on this is availible on this site. In a nutshell; be yourself!

TAMB is another trip to Wesbury (again 1 weekend) and the same tip applies except this time it is make or break (but you get two chances).

Mod 3 a 9 day battle camp confirming you know what the hell you are doing. Can be done in a block or over 5 weekends. Here you will cover Patrols, Platoon harbours, command positions include sect Ic and 2ic, Plt sgt, signaller, runner and Plt commander. Lots of estimates and orders here to prepare you for the biggie RMAS.

RMAS a 3 week holiday bimbling around having scones with the colonel and learning what a fish knife looks like. A walk in the park. Or not.

From the moment you walk through the TAC doors to RMAS will take (probably) over 18 months.

After RMAS there is then Special to Arms training which if you go Inf is the Platoon Commanders Battle Course (or some such). 2 weeks of wishing you had worked harder at school (only joking! Respect to the Inf and the job they choose) and Mod 5 Managing Soldiers etc is a further 3 weekends.

As you can see it is a long term project which can be shortened if you get hold of dates asap to plan ahead and clear your diary.

Hope this helps

If you're in Brighton then I suggest that you should consider looking at some of the London TA Units, it's easily commutable and gives you a wider choice. (City Road to London Bridge is only a short walk :D )

I would also consider weither you want to go down the commissioning route at the same time as studying for your degree. I think that you might find a few years as a TA OR, particularily in one of the more challenging London units more fun and just as good a foundation for a regular commissioned career.

Bear in mind that to get through the commissioning process you have to attend and pass a lot of courses over quite a period and sods law says that some of these will fall at exam or other critical times.
I think you would be better off going to London OTC because you are a student. But joining as a PWRR private is equally valid and ULOTC only recruit in September. I should go and see them both.
I'm a 19 year old Student studying something called BSc Molecular Medicine at the University of Sussex. (Its a Clinical Biochemistry course.) It doesn't qualify me as a Doctor but I’m hoping to studying graduate entry medicine after this degree is done which will qualify me as a Doctor - its then my intention to join the RAMC

Why don't you just join your local TA unit and then once you have started your graduate entry medicine degree you can go for a medical bursary. I was told that these give quite a substantial amount of money and are easier to get as for those who want to go join RAMC as their RCB is shorter and easier.

Not sure on that last piece of advice so could someone confirm or dispel that.
Windrush - Well i have ancillary reasons for joining the TA such as I would like it both for the experience and as a career reference - perhaps even to volunteer for mobilisation between my ug and pg degrees for the money and experience, but thats neither here nor there. Simply joining for the bursary whilst possible isn't really what I want, Equally if I have future career in the Army as a Doctor or anything to that nature it will bode better for me that I was in the TA inf. or otherwise. As an Officer it will give me a stronger application to Medicine but more over it will make me a stronger character and thats what I'm after. Centrally though I'm aching to get back into military life and this is the route - hence as I said I want to join officer or not, but as an Officer I will be with people who are more similar to me and the job will be more suited to my character than a soldier I believe.

I don't see it getting in the way of study as out of principle I dont study on weekends, I work in the week between 9am-7pm. I think its important to have a block of time set aside for something other than just study and students who study in small 'packets 24/7' are often nothing more than students as it naturally consumes all their time I find. But I do think that commuting to London would be both expensive and time consuming but thanks for that advice. Can someone maybe spell out for me what the benefits of a London TA unit would be? then I can weigh up the benefits with the costs?
Hello Prolific. Honourable Artillery Company is correct. If you can easily get to City Road, London, then I suggest you look them up on the web, and see what you think. Things have changed a lot since I was in the HAC in the 1950's, but do PM me if you care to.
Can someone elaborate on what the 7 questions are? (sorry its clearly such a 'newb' question to ask but I havent a clue and its being mentioned...alot!) Thanks everyone who's posted so far you've all been very helpful!
Prolific said:
But I do think that commuting to London would be both expensive and time consuming but thanks for that advice. Can someone maybe spell out for me what the benefits of a London TA unit would be? then I can weigh up the benefits with the costs?
You get your travel expenses paid back. There is a limit on distance in theory but I've never known it be a problem Brighton-London. A lot of people travel into London for TA so it is quite achievable.

I suggested London as you get a wider choice (about as wide as you can get) of units. I mention the HAC in City Road as they have an interesting and challenging job, their TAC is convenient for London Bridge and they tend to attract a fair number of students who for various reasons would rather join the TA than the OTC including several medics over the years. Incidentally, once you are in you they also run their own specialist medical course which is set at a pretty high standard and includes hospital attachments.

Their have need more than enough threads on here about the various units in London to give you a cross section of views if you run a search or two.
Join your local unit is my advice.

For the seven questions, check your email.

Think you want to bear in mind old chap that medicine is a tough degree and you are unlikely to have the time to make much of the TA, especially as the camps and courses are unlikely to fall in your limited holidays. Even OTC, ostensibly designed around student life, was synonymous with academic underperformance or indeed failure in my time. This is even more the case with the compressed course. This is assumig you get in, of course. The 4 year medical course is fiercely competitive and is not for those who couldn't have got in first time round, post A-Level. Back door it ain't. So you'll be needing a First. So you won't be spending your weekends with the TA then.
I'm confident in my time management abilities that I can manage. To the point if I didn't think I could manage my own time properly I wouln't be pretenious enough to try and join the TA as an Officer and organise other peoples. One must have the up most confidence in their own abilities and limits to be good at anything. As I say, I have set hours I do and don't work in - whether at the TA or not I don't work weekends out of principle. Very very rarely anyway. In any case I much appreciate your thoughts, everyones views culminate to paint an overall picture of TA officer life which is very helpful. On a less related note if I cant study Graduate Entry Medicine i'll try and take 5 year UG med. If I can't do that i shall probably do a masters and then PhD in a related discipline, it is for want of a better term 'my bread and butter'. Unfortunatley there is no back door into medicine excpet hard work, experience and the right mental attitude - come to think of it that sounds strikingly like officer selection.
Considered joining the RAMC specialist unit in York?
B0ll0cks. Serious degrees are "full time" in the way few jobs are outside the City.

You may have time on your current one but it's unlikely you will doing medicine. For good parts of the year, yes, but that's not really how it works.

What's with the perpetual student thing anyway? Study is not an end in itself. You appear to be a confused individual. Army mad but in no hurry to join the Regular Army. Wanting to be a doctor yet doing a different degree or willing to substitute a "Dr" for an MB BS. I think you need to think more carefully about what you want, whether that is realistic and all presents a cogent picture and what is realistically involved in getting there.
Well your concerns aside I think I’d rather hear no more of medicine here. I’m not looking for information on evaluating my life goals or how to study but rather at picking up some helpful TA officer information. If we could stick to topic I’d appreciate it. Thanks for the RAMC suggestions but my interest is solely Infantry, hence I feel the PWRR would be my choice unit even given that London is a theoretically commutable distance away. I must say HAC is very appealing too but I’m not a Londoner and I’d think the distance would be too much for me to travel that often. The trains are unreliable and it would interfere with my studies extensively, however many thanks for that suggestion.

Also, thanks for the link with the 7 questions. I’m actually vaguely familiar with the system from my days in the cadets but have never heard it called that before, thanks for clearing that up.

What are week nights like for the OCdts that’s something I’d really like to know. Perhaps if someone is really feeling brave they could give me an example of what I might do in a week night to begin with from start to finish? – how many people would I train with that kind of thing.

And what sort of timescale is there for deployment – can 2nd Lieutenants be mobilised or would it be the 18 months (lets assume 2 years) to get to 2nd Lieutenant then another 2 to get to Lieutenant before one could be considered for mobilisation?

What relationship do OCdts have with the existing officers on the whole – I imagine it varies person to person – but presumably units don’t see officer cadets in large numbers (OTC exempt of course) so is an OCdt likely to become segregated from both the soldiers and officers as they are neither in a sense for around 2 years. Are officers welcoming of OCdts – my guess is no?
You can forgive the RAMC suggestions when you stated in your first post that joining that corps was your eventual aim.

You're all over the f***ing place.

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