The Tunnel of Doom: Junior Captain to Sqn Ldr/Coy Comd

Discussion in 'Officers' started by HeavyDragoon, Feb 14, 2007.

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  1. As a young officer in a teeth arm I am now staggered by the hurdles placed before us all in order to get from where I am now to Leading a Sqn. (The only post we all want as a Maj).

    This 'Tunnel of Doom' is made darker by the need to find all the augmentees for the OCP (about 3000), of which many are SO3 posts and junior SO2 jobs.

    To add insult to injury the new ICSC(L) programme means that effectively everyone gets to go to staff college. So the point of going to RHQ for a sound thrashing in the top Capt jobs at RD is also fairly pointless.

    Further to that there is now a view to bolt on an extra year to ICSC(L) for those who finish in the top quartile. Is it me or are we just slowly re-inventing the wheel of proper staff college.

    And as for MK2 and the MA programme - completely barking. The ROCC programme sadly written by someone who wears my capbadge. Apologies to all.

    What I am getting at is how do we expect to retain young officers when there is nothing to look forward to except trawls and crappy SO3 jobs at Bde HQ.
  2. Sack it and become a tom. No more problems.
  3. ROCC has its weaknesses but then so did taking a degree in dance technology as an automated right to be a Capt after 18 months.

    Bearing in mind people are still commanding Sqns after 8 years in the Army (about the same as a junior Sgt) some level of experience has to drawn in before they get Sub unit Comd.

    The same was said when young officers had to do 6 months JDSC and 3 sets of exams at the end, so it was binned, leading to no formal staff trg for SO3's, leading to a reduction in responsiblity, leading to a reduction in experience gained, leading to longer staff Trg at SO2 to make up for it.
  4. untallguy

    untallguy Old-Salt Reviewer Book Reviewer

    I don't see the problem with everyone going to staff college - a lot of like-minded people learning things together to the benefit of themselves and the Army. Although I b*tched like a good 'un throughout, it did provide me with greater breadth and depth of knowledge for me in my chosen profession, especially when you threw in the leavening of LEs and PQOs as well.

    If you want your exclusive little staff club, I suggest that you promote, get the right ticks in the boxes and go to ACSC/HCSC.

    Ref MA programme, I'm having no problems with it at the moment and neither are the other officers who are on it as well. I'm lucky - I'm in a fairly sedentary staff post but others are doing it from the great sandpits of the world.

    Yes, it is a pain the arse having to find time to study and write essays etc but at this rate, I'll complete in 15 months without having to spend any more time at Shrivenham (big bonus in my eyes).

    As P_L states, there are problems with ROCC - no system is perfect. The one before wasn't brilliant but we cannot complain that we are not receiving a pretty thorough professional education.
  5. HD,

    I know this will probably sound rather quaint and sweaty, but the situation for junior officers is probably slightly better than it was in my day. I will offer my opinion for each of your points. Please bear in mind that I am at ICSC right now and have completed MA and MK2 in the last 2 years. As a junior officer I did JOTES 1 exam (a day of military skills testing) and JOTES 2 education (3 x 3 day versions of today's MA) and did not do AJD. So until I started the MA courses I had received 9 days of preofessional education in 8 years.

    I understand your concern about the hurdles, but they should be very little more than speedbumps for most young officers. The SO3 posts on ops can be very exciting (I think that at least 2 of the MCs from the Oct/Nov honours list went to people who went to Afghanistan for ostensibly desk-jobs and found their more fundamental military skills were in greater need than their staffing ability).

    I am afraid I disagree. RHQ/BHQ jobs are extemely important for developing captains (particularly with the absence of AJD). It may not be as sexy as being OC Recce Tp or OC GW Tp but being IO or RSO can be rewarding in its own way. Jobs as Adjt and Ops Offr will make you more appreciative of what it is to be a coy comd. I was a coy comd before I became adjt. I realise now how much better a coy comd I could have been if that had been done the other way around. In terms of identifying a future for yourself, there can be no harm in having the CO say that you are amongst his best two or three captains on the basis of you doing a demanding job under his watchful eye.

    Are you sure you mean this? I understand that if 25% of those promoted to Major and attend ICSC(L) will be promoted to Lt Col. ACSC will be a year long for all those promoted to Lt Col. I do not see how, and I will check with my mole, the Army could generate the second year. I do know that the Army is taking ICSC(L) very seriously much to the envy of our sister services.

    I think this appears worse than it really is. I completed the 3 MA courses in just under 2 years without much of a squeeze (including 2 as a coy comd and 1 as an adjt); I was lucky to have a CO in both jobs who appreciated the importance of the courses. I completed MK2 with very little difficulty in 6 months again with an understanding CO and supportive mentoring. Was I lucky? Yes. Will my subalterns get my unfaltering support in this area when I am OC or CO? Undoubtedly.

    I hate myself for saying this but MA and MK2 really have prepared me for ICSC(L) in terms of establishing a baseline of knowledge and understanding.

    Do not think that all your life holds are trawls and crappy jobs. I failed to be taken for a trawl once in the last 4 years! I didn't do any SO3 jobs as a senior captain, so I can't comment on them - I am sure some are crappy. I am, however, envious of those officers on this course who have done them. The ones who have worked in MOD are very helpful and can put what we are learning (Management of Defence, Acquisition etc) into context; those who have worked in A&SDs are right on the button about the future of their corps; those who have worked in bde HQs are as far as I can tell walking through the ops phase without blinking and improving the experience for the others.

    OK, so the glass is half full, but I think it could be far worse. I didn't do AJD so I couldn't compete for some key SO3 appts in bde HQs, so I didn't go to war with them so I can't compete for some SO2 appts. Sh1t! If I had my time again as a senior capt I would have pushed myself right into those crappy SO3 appts and gone on trawls. I believe that if you sit in your comfort zone at RD for too long you will do yourself no favours in the long run.

    As far as retention is concerned; stay in the Army until you stop enjoying it. If that is today then go. If you want to be a sqn ldr or coy comd then drive on through the mud. I have been lucky that I haven't had that much mud to drive through but unlucky that I have a very lightweight left hand side of my chest.
  6. untallguy

    untallguy Old-Salt Reviewer Book Reviewer

    Ooops, my mistake, for MA I read MMP, not Military Analysis.

    On that, I will second barbs, MA courses are a good way to educate (having done them). You're away from your Regt/SO3 post for a week and able to concentrate on your studies, meet up with old chums and have a good laugh in the evening.
  7. Right on the nail, as usual, Barbs. I didn't have the opportunity to do those jobs either and my command would have been better if I'd had the background.

    The work must be tailing off at Shrivenham if you have time to post such eloquent pieces....

  8. Just reading this thread and wondering what is the real time frame for getting to Major and then Lt Col as a graduate, and what percentage of one's peers from Sandhurst even make it that far?
  9. Crikey! OK, I'll try....IIRC....

    University - 18/19
    Sandhurst - 22yo
    Major - 25% of pool @ 30yo, 25% @ 31, remainder @ 32
    Lt Col - 10% of pool at 37yo, hitting a peak around 40.

    As for the percentage who survive that far? I don't know and the DASA website doesn't help me. I guess that only about 50-60% of your cohort at Sandhurst would reach Major. Most will sign off or not be converted.

    IIRC, the figures for Lt Col are about 2 out of 3 promoting in due course. This time, it is the Intermediate Pension (and the wife and children) that persuades the Majors to leave.

    This document is for 2005. If you look at the middle chart in the bottom row, you can see the age profiles for Majors and Lt Cols, and you can see how the numbers fluctuate. The increase in the number of Capts and Majors in their late 30s and early 40s is due to the influx of Late Entry Officers, commissioned from the ranks, to balance those Regular Officers who leave.

    DASA Pocket Brief for 2005]

    I cannot get that link to display correctly, although it works if you cut and paste; it might be time to go home!

    Looking at the graphs for Major and Lt Col, it would appear that the percentage who promote is actually quite small. I will try and find the figures!

  10. DPM

    DPM Old-Salt

    It'll sound trite, but in my experience, you make your own luck.

    Sit around, malinger, bitch about it; next stop is Watchkeeper, Ballykelly.

    Grip it, have a bit of fun, do your job well, you'll get what you want. Frankly, it's a buyers market, and there are plenty of cracking junior staff jobs out there, in Bn and Bde, as a Capt and Major.

    With regard to MK2 et al, the principle, as Barbs says, is fine. Just needs formatting a little better, especially the 'exams'.

    Just a thought.

  11. Also depends on capbadge / arm. To Pink in the RLC you just need to stay alive by the looks of it. Teeth arm on the other hand is dog eat dog.

    G3 snobs of the world unite!

  12. Somebody should have tried harder at school. :thumright:
  13. untallguy

    untallguy Old-Salt Reviewer Book Reviewer

    B_B, shame on you, staying alive in the RLC is harder than it looks - dying of boredom is high risk for us!

    Yes, there is a higher chance of pinking in the RLC (albeit not much) but the competition to go to sh*t SO1 jobs in DLO/DPA is high (and we get to compete against other CSS types, G3ists trying to be more employable and RAF/RN types as well). We have lots of SO1 posts but not many CO slots a year. The grass is not necessarily greener on the G4 side!
  14. From the 05/06 and final ATRA report submitted to Parliament, comes this extract:

    In 2005-2006:

    ...RCB passed 918 of its 1370 candidates...

    ...RMAS commissioned 646 Direct Entry Officers into the British Army ..... In addition, .... 106 Professionally Qualified Officers (PQOs) successfully completed Regular Army courses at the RMAS.

    You have to pass RCB (now AOSB) and Sandhurst before thinking about getting any further!

  15. But it would be foolish to get through those without a real idea of what the prospects are once you are in. I get the impression from someone that it is quite easy to get binned for mistakes made as a young officer. Is this true? Of course these mistakes are often on a knife edge as to whether they are fatal or non-fatal for those involved, but that is the nature of the job!