To old for this, too old for that...

I'm applying to join as an officer and my number 1 choice is definitely the Infantry. However, I'm 28 and have been told in no uncertain terms that I'm just too much of an old fart to be accepted.

What I'm wondering, out of curiosity and with no agenda, is what serving Infantry soldiers/NCOs think about the age of their Platoon Commanders?

Assuming that you have a fit, motivated and loyal Platoon Commander, would you give a damn if he was 20 or 29?

There's numerous accounts of very young officers doing very well so I'm not suggesting there's anything wrong with the system. Could there be any benefit in having an older PC? Supposedly, the Platoon Sergeant's experience and age offset the youth of the PC?

To offer up some form of "benefit" would it help to have a PC that has experience in the real world, dealing with mortgages, babies, wives, cars, lawyers etc.
Who told you that you were too old? As long as you are fit there is no problem - people of your age have commissioned into the Infantry before.

And yes, it would probably be a bonus with your more enhanced life experience.
Well technically, I'm not too old. But bearing in mind that most teeth arm units are quite competitive, they can afford to be picky with their officers. I was told that when it came down to it, all else being equal they'll go with the younger guy.

Personally, I'm going to apply and hopefully get to Sandhurst, then if the training staff think I've got a chance, I'll put an Infantry regt. as my first choice. I would think that by that point you'll have shown whether you are or aren't Infantry material!

Enough about me, though. What are the experiences that soldiers have had with their PCs? My attitude is that if you are a good officer then the guys will respect you regardless of your age, background etc.


Ace_Rimmer said:
Enough about me, though. What are the experiences that soldiers have had with their PCs? My attitude is that if you are a good officer then the guys will respect you regardless of your age, background etc.
There are quite a few attributes an officer needs in order to be considered 'good', but you have answered your own question in that if you are a good officer, the blokes will respect you regardless of any other issue. Age however, would be considered a plus amongst the troops, but it's not the troops who commission you.
That's a good point.

In nearly every interview I've had, the age thing hasn't been mentioned as a bar to entry it's always "well in 5-7 years you'll be...." or similar. It seems apparent that the first years of a commission are actually just training for when you hit Company level command? Would that be a sensible deduction?

Ironically, pretty much all young (and not so young) thrusters' main reason for joining is to be on the ground at platoon level and get stuck in.
To be honest, I'm well aware of my age and although I'd love to stay for a full career, if the Army are willing to give me just a few years then I'll jump at the chance...

The worst thing that I've been told is that most regiments are a bit ageist and if you do get in then you'll have just one go at platoon level work before you are pushed on up.


Mate, if you don't get into the Inf for whatever reason, look around. There are other parts of the Army which, if you are unfortunate in your main desire, can also offer you a decent career. Don't write off other branches of the Army.
Sage advice from Biscuits.

There was a bit of a discussion on this here:

Essentially it will come down to a number of things at the Regimental Selection.

Is he any good?
Is he a good bloke?
Will he gel with the men?
Will he gel with the mess?
Is he a worthwhile investment?

An aspirational Regiment will look to what can be achieved by you throughout your whole potential career. Take note of the points I make about current career structure and ask yourself that although 28 years old for a Platoon Commander may be on the outside of the bracket, how does this compare to ten to fourteen years later as a Company Commander and who will he be up against in terms of potential Sub Unit Commanders.

Yes most join the Army with a view to the first few years and getting stuck in. After all the recruiting effort does not show you many tedious hours of staff work. But consider that you choose to remain for your minimum service and then bang out. That puts you looking for a new career at 32 - 33 years old. I do not personally know what the job market is like at the moment, but I reckon it is not exactly strong.

Now if a civilian employer looked at you on paper against a graduate some 10 years your junior, would they be looking at someone they can mould to their own aspirations and ideals or someone that comes to them with a set of their own goals. Who is going to be cheaper?

The point I am getting at is that if you join this late on (and in terms of recruitment it is late), then you would be slightly foolish not to consider that you were going to make the Army your chosen career. If that is your consideration, then you would have to not just think about the next 4 years, but the next 16 years or so. At least until you can get a pension out of it.

So yes, you are probably going to come up against an ageist attitude. Is it right, well legally no and perhaps it is a little narrow. But does it suit the current potential career structure in the Army, well yes it does. I have said before, but there are many fine Officers in my own unit who were on the outside bracket when it came to age and they are making a great career for themselves, however they are very mindful that as the years go on, their age and length of service may well put them further down the pecking order than they rightfully deserve.

Either way, good luck. It is a great career whatever you choose to do.
Excellent advice. Thank you all.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not whinging at all! I'm a realist and I understand and accept all the reasons why the combat units would be less inclined to take older applicants.

With respect to keeping an eye on forming a career, I totally agree. This is advice I have had from a very senior officer, also. It would be better to have a long career in something less "Hollywood" than do three years and be left out in the cold. I've done civvy street and I KNOW it's not for me.
As far as other branches in the Army, again I've got a couple that I'm very keen on, am much more likely to get in and dare I say enjoy the job for longer.
I'm the sort of guy to fish for the hot women but if I pull out a 5 pinter, I'll definitely make the most of it!
At the end of the day you live with the choices you've made. We'd all love to go back in time and make choices with the benefit of hindsight but that's just fantasy.
I'm a civilian. I work in the software industry, which has a youthful demographic. I've worked with people in their early-mid 30s who've entered the industry as a second career (often after reverting to being a penniless student for a few years to obtain the entry-level qualifications).

Some industries actively prefer older people. Certain sales positions where they want somebody who can project some gravitas and reliability (e.g. pension scheme sales) would be an example.

I can't tell you anything about being an Army officer, but you shouldn't be put off from it by the idea of having to look for a new career in your mid-30s, if it comes to that.

Most smaller companies really don't think in terms of somebody they can mould over the course of decades anyway. Most people only stay with the same company for a few years in the private sector these days.
At what point is one considered 'old'? I was 25 in may, and I plan on making my approach in August when my GCSE Maths resit results (yup) are through.

I did speak to a friend of the family, an HC captain, on the subject. He pooh-poohed my concerns about my age. 'Plenty of time', he said.
To any late 20s candidates reading this thread..

I did speak to a friend of the family, an HC captain, on the subject. He pooh-poohed my concerns about my age. 'Plenty of time', he said.
25 is starting to push it a bit, but its still possible.

Ace_Rimmer said:
I'm applying to join as an officer and my number 1 choice is definitely the Infantry. However, I'm 28 and have been told in no uncertain terms that I'm just too much of an old fart to be accepted.
This is the realistic answer. I know that late 20s officers have commissioned into the combat arms before, and that they are generally stronger in some areas than their younger peers. But things have changed significantly in the last couple of years and - whether you or I agree with it - the official DInf line is not in favour of OCdts commissioning into the infantry, and neither is the general opinion of Regiments so far as I know.

I have known a handful of prospective Inf / RAC officers go to Sandhurst dead set on their regiment only, often with encouragement from their capbadge, only to find themselves scratching about for a place in a CS / CSS regiment during selection.

Whether you or I agree or not, Inf COs want young Platoon Commanders who may have less life experience than you but are more likely to be:

a) Physically robust - high tempo ops in S Afg are extremely demanding, and far more so than many previous ops. An Inf Pl Commander in the Green Zone needs to be significantly more robust than I had to be in Iraq as a YO.

b) Temperamentally suited to the demanding tempo of ops than you. As a young officer you are likely to spend your first 4 years at RD on a constant stream of exercises and ops. Fresh faced, malleable, and too young to have developed other interests or a serious relationship, I was far more suited to it as a 23 year old 2Lt than the 30 year old I am now.

I'd take your recruiter's advice and look elsewhere, or at least apply but have a strong second option. It sounds like you've come to the right path in life at the wrong time which isn't particularly fair, but there's no way round it. There are other YO roles which don't involve storming compounds but which are warry, interesting and open to someone your age. Perhaps you could look at the RA?

It's really important that you are hard-headed. Listen to the recruiters and regimental reps. Don't let the well-meant words of family friends / officers unrelated to the recruiting process build your hopes too much.

Good luck.

Ace_Rimmer said:
I'm the sort of guy to fish for the hot women but if I pull out a 5 pinter, I'll definitely make the most of it! .
Hey - like the anology. So who are the 5 pinters and who are the 10?

My own

5 pints:

Royal Engineers
Any Guards Regiment

10 pints:

Royal Signals
Int Corps

P***ed as a fart and no self respect:

Royal Regiment of Artillery

wager said:
does the caveat about age you've given apply equally to the RAC?
So far as I know, for FR regiments, yes. As for Fat Cav regiments, I don't know. But friends were knocked back from the HCR and QDG on age.

Charlie, I fully understand the points you've mentioned. I'm not questioning them. I don't resent being too old for certain roles and I'm not going to be bitter if I end up in a CS role. Yes I do wish I could be 20 again but then looking back, maybe at 20 I would have been a shit officer! You've got to move forward and make the most of what you've got rather than lament on what may have been.

My original post was not about me trying to squeeze into an unsuitable role but to find out what soldiers think about the issue. It was more academic really.

As for Wildgoose.... like I'm going to walk into that trap. :D

All I'll say is that I always want to be at the very front of whatever I'm doing - whether that was teeth arm or CS.

WRT Regiments that may not want older candidates - or so I've been told.

Int Corps
I would be surprised if the Int Corps were concerned about age. The others though (less potentially the RA or even the blessed RHA) are pretty spot on.
From personal experience, your soldiers will not care a toot about your age. They will only care about how good you are at the job. I commanded a Rifle Pl on ops (admittedly less physically demanding than HERRICK) at the age of 27/28 (ten years older than some of the soldiers) and it wasn't an issue for them. Probably even less so nowadays, as Officers tend to commission later than they did in The Olden Days, but obviously do bear in mind the career-related points above...
how on earth is 28 "too old"? don't know about officers but plenty join as privates at that age, as far as fitness goes 28 is not too old, the main demographic for not being able to tab seems to be 17 year olds possibly because they're still growing and have faster metabolism(so possibly less endurance), really I doubt anyone could care less if you were a 28 year old pc, if you were 35 it might get funny !!!
Flipping eck I feel like an old fart at 25 and attending AOSB in a couple of months. I wish I had realised civvy street wasn't for me and that I wanted to fight for my country and lead it's soldiers a few years ago now, but back then (oh so lofty a time ago) I was more interested in beer, women and daytime tv.

I want to join the Yorks, but am well aware now that I might be too old when I pass out of sandbags (27) but as long as I get to fire some form of weapon in anger and command the respect of the lads I'll be a happy 2ndLt.

Hello all.

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