Wannabe Officer

#61
A lifetime ago I was pinged as having potential during basic training. Went on the regiment's radar, and four years later, as a Lance Jack, went through the process......as it was then.....CO's interview.......Regimental Colonel's interview...'I'd have you in my mess'........six week POs course at Woolwich.......'good effort, you'll piss RCB'.........RCB, crashed and burned, just couldn't get anything right.
Subsequent feedback through CoC......I'd been in the ranks too long.
As I say, all a long time ago. The process may have changed a bit, but ultimately Westbury have been doing it long enough to know what they want.
Good luck whatever you choose to do.
 
#62
A lifetime ago I was pinged as having potential during basic training. Went on the regiment's radar, and four years later, as a Lance Jack, went through the process......as it was then.....CO's interview.......Regimental Colonel's interview...'I'd have you in my mess'........six week POs course at Woolwich.......'good effort, you'll piss RCB'.........RCB, crashed and burned, just couldn't get anything right.
Subsequent feedback through CoC......I'd been in the ranks too long.
As I say, all a long time ago. The process may have changed a bit, but ultimately Westbury have been doing it long enough to know what they want.
Good luck whatever you choose to do.
It is a shame to hear about that, sorry it didn't work out for you.

Very useful insight there though, thank you.
 

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#63
Then I'm clearly speaking to other people there. I understand CC192 was loaded to 104% capacity (the May intake is the smallest) and that the waiting list was full (that's why my son has to wait until Sep to start) and that CC191 had 260 cadets incl 39 international ones and CC183 had 253 (incl 34 international). No matter, the point is that the situation is much improved.
Fair enough, but as with all things, if I have differing accounts from the bloke on the ground and the one in the HQ, I'll take the bloke on the ground every time. He might not see as widely as the one in the HQ, but he always sees more accurately and in more detail. Perhaps there is a disparity between "loaded" and "turn up on day 0"; perhaps too many fail the entry PFT so turn up on day 0 but aren't there on day 7; or any one of ten other reasons.

It's pretty simple. Which do you have more faith in? A) That a platoon commander can count the number of cadets in their company. B) The accounting numbers from a bureaucracy collating multiple inputs across various offices, individuals, motivations, and spreadsheets, all under substantial political pressure to say "more better"? If you've been in the military for any length of time and the answer isn't A, then either you haven't been paying attention or you're kidding yourself.

Even at the comparatively low level of the Academy HQ, it's always been the case that between what they understood was going on in the platoons, and what was actually going on, there were vast gulfs and they contained multitudes.

(Or didn't contain multitudes, as the case may be)
 

Brotherton Lad

LE
Kit Reviewer
#64
Fair enough, but as with all things, if I have differing accounts from the bloke on the ground and the one in the HQ, I'll take the bloke on the ground every time. He might not see as widely as the one in the HQ, but he always sees more accurately and in more detail. Perhaps there is a disparity between "loaded" and "turn up on day 0"; perhaps too many fail the entry PFT so turn up on day 0 but aren't there on day 7; or any one of ten other reasons.

It's pretty simple. Which do you have more faith in? A) That a platoon commander can count the number of cadets in their company. B) The accounting numbers from a bureaucracy collating multiple inputs across various offices, individuals, motivations, and spreadsheets, all under substantial political pressure to say "more better"? If you've been in the military for any length of time and the answer isn't A, then either you haven't been paying attention or you're kidding yourself.

Even at the comparatively low level of the Academy HQ, it's always been the case that between what they understood was going on in the platoons, and what was actually going on, there were vast gulfs and they contained multitudes.

(Or didn't contain multitudes, as the case may be)
I also understand the current pass rate from arriving to commissioning is in the order of 95%. It's fair to say the system is working much better than it was in terms of throughput.

As for the rest, such is life.
 
#65
My 2 pennies worth:

In your current situation don't go Soldier route - You're old to be joining as a Pte - unless you get pinged during Ph1 or 2 you're going to spend time in unit where you'll have to jump through all the hoops. You're going to be 'old' when you get to RMAS, this may have a detrimental effect on your performance and cap-badge selection. You'll also have the potential to be a very old 2Lt, which while not a massive issue, is still a bit of an issue as your age will not match your seniority/rank.

I've had a mixed experience of ex-soldier officers, many are a pain in the arse to try and command. I don't know what it is, but many have a massive chip on their shoulder at having been Cpls / Sgts, and finding themselves back at the bottom of the pile and learning to be a DE Officer which is a different skillset/mindset/approach to business than being a NCO - many find it difficult to adjust. (Having been a TA JNCO I also had this issue, albeit in a reduced dose).
As an aside when I was at RMAS one of my Coy learned he had come off the Sgts' board whilst on the final ex of Juniors, after some soul searching he left to return to his previous life.

Try AOSB again, take the time they've suggested and go for it. If you want to be an Officer, be an Officer. If you're unsuccessful then go for soldier entry. Don't come up with Plan B because you're afraid to retry Plan A.
 
#66
I also understand the current pass rate from arriving to commissioning is in the order of 95%.
I see we're now relying very heavily on the efficacy of a 3 day assessment centre, then.

No slur intended on the DS at Westbury, which is good at what it does, but that % seems remarkably high to me.

I don't believe in bullying, "harder in my day" or gold-plating training. I do believe in the "Train In, Not Select Out" ethos. However I also think that RMAS has an important role in introducing largely callow young men & women to the rigours of their future roles.

I don't think 95% of my intake were fully aware of, or suited to, the path they'd embarked on when they arrived at Old College with an ironing board and persistent sense of dread. And I suspect neither AOSB's process nor standards have made a quantum leap since.
 

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#67
I also understand the current pass rate from arriving to commissioning is in the order of 95%. It's fair to say the system is working much better than it was in terms of throughput.

As for the rest, such is life.
Well, yes, but it still suggests that the metrics used are not representative of what they claim to be representative of. It's like the Army's response to "are you struggling to retain Captains / Majors?". "No, we have the same numbers promoting to Major in 2019 that we did in 2011". True, but conveniently that's the wrong metric. The revealing metric is that in 2011 only about 20% of a peer group promoted to Major first look, and some Captains never promoted. In 2019, about 90% of a peer group promotes first look, and everyone promotes eventually. Conclusion: the same numbers promote, but the pool has substantially decreased, meaning many more Captains are leaving, and presumably meaning the quality of Majors is decreasing at a rapid rate. Changing the definition of "trained soldier" was the same accounting trick - just taking an advance loan of numbers from the next year to pretend that the current year's numbers are higher. In this case, the only metric that really matters is: how many cadets are in your platoon / company / intake on the course. If platoon commanders are saying it is < 30, then either a) the platoon commanders accidentally lost some down the back of Barossa and nobody has noticed yet (not too likely), or b) the accounting metrics are suspect (much more likely).

I used to think that the Army was simply bad at data analysis. That was uncharacteristically optimistic. The Army is often quite skilled at data analysis, just they use it to say what they want to hear, rather than to show what is actually happening.

At least the pass rate accords with what I've been told. Whether or not that is a good thing is a different discussion, given that the commissioning course is theoretically meant to be selective, not attendance.

@Charlie_Cong Exactly that. And (since I also know DS at Westbury), they would agree. I think the Westbury process is really pretty good (it's impressively objective, not something that was clear from the outside or going through it) but it is intended to identify potential, not suitability.

Fact is that consistently the highest quality soldiers are those who come through the most selective systems: Para Reg, RM, Selection, various cadres, etc. They all allow for wastage. The best of those (e.g. Lympstone) use a train in mentality and carefully avoid excellence creep, but they still lose a fair number of recruits. Clearly, and this applies to Majors, SF, Sandhurst cadets, or bootneck nods, what that means is that you need an applicant pipeline that is large enough to support that wastage, rather than one that simply provides the same numbers in input that you want in output.

EDIT: I will stop the thread drift now.
 
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#68
My 2 pennies worth:

In your current situation don't go Soldier route - You're old to be joining as a Pte - unless you get pinged during Ph1 or 2 you're going to spend time in unit where you'll have to jump through all the hoops. You're going to be 'old' when you get to RMAS, this may have a detrimental effect on your performance and cap-badge selection. You'll also have the potential to be a very old 2Lt, which while not a massive issue, is still a bit of an issue as your age will not match your seniority/rank.

I've had a mixed experience of ex-soldier officers, many are a pain in the arse to try and command. I don't know what it is, but many have a massive chip on their shoulder at having been Cpls / Sgts, and finding themselves back at the bottom of the pile and learning to be a DE Officer which is a different skillset/mindset/approach to business than being a NCO - many find it difficult to adjust. (Having been a TA JNCO I also had this issue, albeit in a reduced dose).
As an aside when I was at RMAS one of my Coy learned he had come off the Sgts' board whilst on the final ex of Juniors, after some soul searching he left to return to his previous life.

Try AOSB again, take the time they've suggested and go for it. If you want to be an Officer, be an Officer. If you're unsuccessful then go for soldier entry. Don't come up with Plan B because you're afraid to retry Plan A.
Thank you for your reply Ninja. Helpful advice.
 
#69
It is a shame to hear about that, sorry it didn't work out for you.

Very useful insight there though, thank you.
It was a lifetime ago. And a massive disappointment at the time. But I've gone on to do some pretty outrageous things, so definitely no regrets.
 
#70
Try AOSB again, take the time they've suggested and go for it. If you want to be an Officer, be an Officer. If you're unsuccessful then go for soldier entry. Don't come up with Plan B because you're afraid to retry Plan A.
This. A thousand times this.
 
#71
It was a lifetime ago. And a massive disappointment at the time. But I've gone on to do some pretty outrageous things, so definitely no regrets.
Glad to hear it LanceBombard! One thing I have learnt from these forums is the Army is a rewarding career whichever path you take.

EDITED TO ADD : from these forums* is a rewarding career*
 
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Cutaway

LE
Kit Reviewer
#72
Glad to hear it LanceBombard! One thing I have learnt is the Army is rewarding whichever path you take.
I had to re-read that as a couple of the paths I chose* didn't end up rewarded.

Awarded maybe.



* These may have been late at night and possibly "high jinks."
 
#73
My take on the dilemma from an ex soldier and father of a DE O/Cdt who has his Sovereigns Parade next month.

I joined as a PO after A levels. Failed RCB but told to reapply in 6 months to a year's time. In my day you had already taken the Queens shilling as a PO so given the choice of leave or do the 6 months to a year in the ranks then reapply for RCB. I chose the latter but was so busy and enjoying myself that I did not reapply for RCB. Do I regret it? No as had a great 13 years (well mostly and probably typing with rose tinted glasses on) and I would probably not have met my ex and had two great kids if I had passed on the second attempt.

Fast forward nearly 20 years or whatever and Albertous Junior suddenly shows an interest in joining up; with no pushing or even encouragement from me. I suggest staying on at school to do A levels thrn try for a commission. He replied that he did not think he was ready for it so off he goes to Harrogate as a junior.

Another time jump of 6-7 years and Albertous Junior is a full screw doing well and his regiment encourage him to think about applying for a commission. To be fair he was in 29 Commando Regt and they are very proactive at selecting lads for commission and generally send one a year to RMAS, I am not sure about other artillery regiments but it is certainly different from my day. With the encouragement of the CoC he does sufficiently well and gets a cat 2 at the initial Westbury visit. Like all DE candidates he is sent on the Potential Officer Development Course, which runs alongside the Pre-RMAS at Worthy Down. Unlike my day POs is now a select in course and prepares them very well for main board. 6 of the 7 POs on his course passed main board.

So to the original poster, the join the ranks first is a gamble dependant on regiment and CoC as demonstrated just within one family though times obviously change and my experience was 30 years ago. However if you do join the ranks and sufficiently impress then the support you get on the PODs course is very good.

That said, as stated several times, try the AOSB again rather than rely on the vagaries of the system and good luck.
 
#74
My take on the dilemma from an ex soldier and father of a DE O/Cdt who has his Sovereigns Parade next month.

I joined as a PO after A levels. Failed RCB but told to reapply in 6 months to a year's time. In my day you had already taken the Queens shilling as a PO so given the choice of leave or do the 6 months to a year in the ranks then reapply for RCB. I chose the latter but was so busy and enjoying myself that I did not reapply for RCB. Do I regret it? No as had a great 13 years (well mostly and probably typing with rose tinted glasses on) and I would probably not have met my ex and had two great kids if I had passed on the second attempt.

Fast forward nearly 20 years or whatever and Albertous Junior suddenly shows an interest in joining up; with no pushing or even encouragement from me. I suggest staying on at school to do A levels thrn try for a commission. He replied that he did not think he was ready for it so off he goes to Harrogate as a junior.

Another time jump of 6-7 years and Albertous Junior is a full screw doing well and his regiment encourage him to think about applying for a commission. To be fair he was in 29 Commando Regt and they are very proactive at selecting lads for commission and generally send one a year to RMAS, I am not sure about other artillery regiments but it is certainly different from my day. With the encouragement of the CoC he does sufficiently well and gets a cat 2 at the initial Westbury visit. Like all DE candidates he is sent on the Potential Officer Development Course, which runs alongside the Pre-RMAS at Worthy Down. Unlike my day POs is now a select in course and prepares them very well for main board. 6 of the 7 POs on his course passed main board.

So to the original poster, the join the ranks first is a gamble dependant on regiment and CoC as demonstrated just within one family though times obviously change and my experience was 30 years ago. However if you do join the ranks and sufficiently impress then the support you get on the PODs course is very good.

That said, as stated several times, try the AOSB again rather than rely on the vagaries of the system and good luck.
Was your son 1 of the 6 that passed? If so, congrats to him!

Thank you for taking the time to write out your detailed reply. Very helpful.
 
#75
Was your son 1 of the 6 that passed? If so, congrats to him!

Thank you for taking the time to write out your detailed reply. Very helpful.
Yes he was and commissions next month, though not into the RA who sponsored him to get to Sandhurst in the first place.

Good luck whichever route you choose.
 

Caecilius

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#77
commissioning is in the order of 95%. It's fair to say the system is working much better than it was in terms of throughput
That was the same when I went through, with almost the entire drop out rate coming from injuries. I'm not sure it's something the army should be proud of...

Slightly off topic, but I'd also note that at the time (not sure if this has changed) Westbury was passing about 40% of candidates at risk. A 40% risk rate and a lower than 5% failure rate suggest that something was very wrong in the system.
 
#78
That was the same when I went through, with almost the entire drop out rate coming from injuries. I'm not sure it's something the army should be proud of...

Slightly off topic, but I'd also note that at the time (not sure if this has changed) Westbury was passing about 40% of candidates at risk. A 40% risk rate and a lower than 5% failure rate suggest that something was very wrong in the system.
I found that (obviously I'm well over a decade out of date) RMAS was a far better filter than RCB was. The system worked and the dangerously inept were binned after backterming (unfortunately this wasn't the case for the fat, lazy or shit members of the Pl, but in their defence they wouldn't have/weren't given the leeway to get anyone killed through stupidity post commissioning (one would have failed PCD but the Commandant stepped in to save the day - after his course report he wasn't allowed to command much)).
Out of those that failed I can see how they passed Westbury. Big blokes, loud voices, they had the potential.
 

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#79
That was the same when I went through, with almost the entire drop out rate coming from injuries. I'm not sure it's something the army should be proud of...

Slightly off topic, but I'd also note that at the time (not sure if this has changed) Westbury was passing about 40% of candidates at risk. A 40% risk rate and a lower than 5% failure rate suggest that something was very wrong in the system.
That's interesting. Just two years earlier it was between 10-15% voluntary withdrawal, most leaving in Juniors. Most platoons lost a couple of cadets in weeks 1-5 and another couple by the end of term.

5% is really low. It means every platoon only loses 1-2 cadets over the entire year. Like you say, that is basically covered by the injury rate, and doesn't really accord with the risk pass rates from Westbury.
 
#80
I do wonder whether the 95% can be true, or at least whether its statistical method means it’s not telling us what we think it is.

I commissioned in 2002 and RMAS was not a brutal spartan regime.

Nonetheless, and I do realise this is anecdote not data, of my original platoon of probably around 35:

A. At least three left in the first 12 weeks.

B. Four were backtermed, of which two left.

C. One ex-ranker left to become a pilot

D. Two were kicked out for “lack of integrity”

E. One tall, loud, confident guy ( strong pass at RCB, cadetship, guaranteed 16yr Commision ) was kicked out for being tremendously incompetent. In the subsequent decade he made the dizzy heights of Cpl in the TA

The drop out & backterm rate would have been higher had 6 of the platoon not been ex-Rowallan Company and therefore not likely to can it or be found egregiously wanting.

So... a 95% pass rate does seem weirdly high.
 
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