Too old for Sandhurst? Commissioning from the Ranks?

Discussion in 'Officers' started by Sammyboy, Apr 22, 2011.

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  1. Hi folks,

    Looking for a bit of advice from those knowing more than me!

    I want to join the Army but I’ve come to the game late. I’m fast approaching the cut off (29 y.o) and as I’m injured (nothing serious) I haven’t attended Main Board. By the time I get myself sorted I will be too old.

    Is there a way around this? I’m keen to get in, and two bits of advice given to me is to join as a soldier and express an interest in training to be an officer. Is this realistic – assuming I make the grade can I attend Sandhurst aged 30+?

    Alternatively, is there such thing as an age waiver? Do I talk to my sponsor or ACA? Has anyone any experience of this?


  2. I'm sure a grown-up will be along to correct me if I get this wrong...

    Speaking to some ex-rankers here at RMAS, they have the same age requirement as Joe Civvi does. LE officers of course don't have the same lower cutoff.

    Standard advice: speak to your ACA ASAP!
  3. Sammy

    Write your sponsors a nice letter and explain the situation. See what they advise.

    The worst they can say is "no".
  4. Even if you made it to Sandhurst before, say, your 31st birthday, you'd then be a 32-year old 2Lt, not employable in an 'LE' role and co-existing with a bunch of bright young thrusters in their early 20s - and conceivably older than your tp/pl Sergeant. Reflect on that for a second.

    I suspect you've missed that particular boat. You might consider joining as a soldier, but then you'd be a 30+ year old recruit, living and working with guys in their teens.

  5. He's got a point. Try it anyway though. Sellenium and cod liver oil will help your joints!
  6. Sarastro

    Sarastro LE Reviewer Book Reviewer

    Having been a 30-year old 2Lt, 'co-existing with a bunch of bright young thrusters in their early 20s' isn't such a hard gig after all, because despite what we like to tell ourselves we rarely recruit Oxbridge-graduate MENSA Olympic-contender supermen; the Army tends to make them less bright in pretty short order (or at least less likely to show it); and young thrusters in their 20s' have their own weaknesses which offset those of slightly older thrusters in their 30s'. In fact, I've had a succession of awesome jobs well beyond my experience or rank precisely because being older was seen as a bonus.

    SammyBoy: for whatever reason, in recent years there has been a surge of people at the upper age limit entering and passing out of RMAS. I know around 15 from my personal experience alone, 4 from my platoon at RMAS and the rest junior officers I've met afterwards. As a completely unscientific and anecdotal straw poll, they tend on average to perform considerably better than their younger counterparts. The combination of maturity, life experience and independence of thought, I would suggest, is more valuable in the Army today than the ability to run a 100m sprint a second or two faster or not suffer on CO's PT from having been on the smash the night before.

    There will be a couple of elements you'll probably have to work harder at to achieve the same standard (phys); some paths which you'll have to attempt sooner or not at all (various types of selection have a 32-year age limit); and you may find the bullshit element and being treated like a kid at RMAS mildly more irksome - particularly when by those younger than yourself - but deal with it. I guarantee you'll find a lot of the other stuff easier than those coming straight from university or school, so it all balances out. You may also find going into the infantry more of a hurdle than for younger guys, because many regiments are still wary of anyone without previous military experience (i.e. ex-ranker, not cadets when you were 16) who is above the age of 26ish, and though exceptions do happen, they are still exceptions. This does vary by person and regiment though: a friend entered the PWRR at 30, because he was very determined, smart and a good infantryman.

    As for age waivers: I know they exist because another friend got one going through RMAS at 30 / 31. I don't know the detail of how they work, but I vaguely remember that a particular regiment / Corps needs to fully sponsor you (i.e. agree to take you at the end of RMAS if nobody else will), but this may have changed as they have altered the choice of arm process since then. I suspect you will find that much of this depends on your previous military or civilian experience (i.e. how attractive you look to the Army) and the wider recruiting picture, which I understand is quite tough currently due to the poor job market.

    Finally, forget commissioning from the ranks. If you enter as a soldier at 29 / 30, you'll be staying a soldier unless you commission as a Late Entry Officer 15+ years down the line.

    So be honest with yourself about whether the above sounds like a deal you can accept, and if so, go for it - but do it soon!
  7. Although I am not in the military I would recommend reading "Squaddie" by Steven McLaughlin. He joined as a soldier aged above thirty and there should be some useful stuff in there for you.

    Kind Regards,

  8. Wouldn't argue with any of Sarastro's reasoning - what I had in mind was that, if you're looking for a full career, with lots of advancement, you're not going to get one commissioning at 30-odd. DE officers have all sorts of strange rules based on age - or used to - for promotion brackets. I'll leave it to one of the trusty and well-loved friends around here to explain whether I'm right or wrong; my sense is that you'd have a realistic chance of retiring at 55 as a Major and that'd be about it.

    As for the meat and drink of the job - commanding soldiers - my experience suggests that, outside the infantry, no-one really has much to do with young officers on an intimate day to day basis and generally there's a default benevolence towards them, from seniors and juniors alike. Certainly no-one in the ranks is going to give much of a toss how old you are, provided you can hack whatever you need to hack.
  9. Cheers guys, I appreciate the advice!

    I knew starting the process some time ago that as an older candidate my choice of arm options and career progression chances were limited, that was fine by me. I want the chance to command troops and I'm prepared to handle any drawbacks that come with being an older subbie - they are more than outweighed by the opportunity to do the job.

    I've got the ball rolling for an age waiver and informally the response has been as it is here - little prospect of success but absolutely no harm in trying!

    Thanks again, and please keep the advice coming!

  10. Spot on (and that goes for Sarastro, too) except that age based service (ATOS) has gone and the career structure is now based on how long you have served. Whether the Army is prepared for the logical endgame of lots of 60-something SO1s and SO2s is only something that we will discover in 30 year's time!

    Go for it!