Wannabe Officer

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#81
decade out of date) RMAS was a far better filter than RCB was.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
So it sounds like we were there in the same time period.

It's possible that a different policy was related to the fact that RMAS was explicitly instructed to prepare 2Lts to be directly deployed to Afghan during that period (e.g. they changed the Senior term physical tests to reflect the PDT physical standard for that reason).

From 2011-ish onwards the gap had been met and they could assume that 2Lts would go through a full PDT cycle before deploying or not at all, but in 2007 - 2009 regiments were regularly flying 2Lts out after commissioning with only the 1-week PDT, and before Brecon or Phase 2/3 courses. That will have focused minds on the quality line.
 

Glad_its_all_over

ADC
Book Reviewer
#82
I wonder if anyone has a sense for what the target/expected wastage rate is from Sandhurst itself. 5% and all down to injury, on a 40% at risk intake does rather suggest that there's a mismatch somewhere, but I suppose some of that will depend on a definition of 'at risk'. I don't suppose it's quantified, but my impression is that Westbury does rather a good job of assessing the throughput, while some throbbers do get through, the British officer corps isn't notably overrun with them.
 

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#83
So... a 95% pass rate does seem weirdly high.
I suppose it does depend on whether you consider commissioning into the RAMC, SPS or RMP to be a pass.

/duck
 
#84
in 2007 - 2009 regiments were regularly flying 2Lts out after commissioning with only the 1-week PDT, and before Brecon or Phase 2/3 courses.
Was this for Watchkeeping jobs and the like? We had some would be AAC pilots in Iraq there to get a medal and kill some time.

But I genuinely can’t imagine a fresh 2Lt would be much use to anyone without STA training.

If anything I thought Herrick saw more mandatory courses for 2Lts, not fewer - eg Cavalry officers going to PCD.
 

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#85
while some throbbers do get through, the British officer corps isn't notably overrun with them.
I don't know, 40% seems about right to me. Particularly when you look at field rank.

And you had the advantage of being in a Corps that is highly selective (just by size vs applicants, and that it's been open to both sexes), but I'd still say gets a good 20-30% massively wrong. Usually the ones who dig their heels in to Major and beyond.

Of course, you also spent a lot of time with the Signals.
 
#86
So it sounds like we were there in the same time period.

It's possible that a different policy was related to the fact that RMAS was explicitly instructed to prepare 2Lts to be directly deployed to Afghan during that period (e.g. they changed the Senior term physical tests to reflect the PDT physical standard for that reason).

From 2011-ish onwards the gap had been met and they could assume that 2Lts would go through a full PDT cycle before deploying or not at all, but in 2007 - 2009 regiments were regularly flying 2Lts out after commissioning with only the 1-week PDT, and before Brecon or Phase 2/3 courses. That will have focused minds on the quality line.
Ah I think I'm a little bit before you, but not by much. My course was a COIN hybrid of NI and Iraq. There wasn't much going on in Helmand at that time.
Still, much of Senior Term was long, slow and heavy tabbing.
 

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#87
Was this for Watchkeeping jobs and the like? We had some AAC pilots in Iraq there to get a medal and kill some time.

But I genuinely can’t imagine a fresh 2Lt would be much use to anyone without STA training.

If anything I thought Herrick saw more mandatory courses for 2Lts, not fewer - eg Cavalry officers going to PCD.
It did, but most of that was after Op ENTIREITY. There was a missing few years inbetween the Iraq drawdown and the ENTIREITY workup (basically 2007-2009) where there were a lot cases of 2Lts being used questionably because the numbers were so low, which is one of the reasons ENTIREITY was enacted. It varied a lot by year and regiment. Most used them for HQ jobs like you say; but some regts deployed them on the ground, until they were banned by Andover from commanding British troops; at which point the 2Lts got put into non-command ground roles (like FETs), and so on.

The point was that in, I think, mid-2008, Sandhurst was told to act as if those commissioning would be going straight to Afghan without passing go because a significant percentage were, and introduced a number of measures accordingly. They imported the PDT AFCT tests wholesale into the Inters and Senior term; changed the BROADSWORD and DYNAMIC VICTORY scenarios to be more Afghanised; re-introduced multiple patrolling and BARMA drills in Seniors; upped the weights carried in Seniors so it was less of a step up between RMAS and real patrol weights; etc.

...and a bloody good thing they did as well, because I was exactly one of the guys who would have otherwise ended up way over my head within a few months of commissioning.

PS Bit in bold - not in role, no. But remember that HERRICK saw an explosion of ancilliary roles that were often PIDded for officers or SNCOs. FETs, J2, Human Terrain, ISTAR, LOs, etc. They tended to go into those.
 

Glad_its_all_over

ADC
Book Reviewer
#88
I don't know, 40% seems about right to me. Particularly when you look at field rank.

And you had the advantage of being in a Corps that is highly selective (just by size vs applicants, and that it's been open to both sexes), but I'd still say gets a good 20-30% massively wrong. Usually the ones who dig their heels in to Major and beyond.

Of course, you also spent a lot of time with the Signals.
I grant you the Royal Corps does have a degree of throbber over-representation (although if you want to talk about history of art or horticulture, a Signals officer is your man) and my experience with my own Corps DE was pretty limited, the ones I did work with were generally pretty good and did what they did pretty well.

In the nearly 20 years since I left, of course, the officer corps - hell, the whole Army - has changed shape dramatically, though. We did have a number of DE folk leaving at the sixteen-year point, but seemed to have more good guys staying on - from your posts various, that's no longer the norm and many of the better guys leave then or even before (and my experience in industry tends to bear out the assertion that younger ex-officers are better value overall than their more senior colleagues, who perhaps left as OF4 of 5).
 
#89
but in 2007 - 2009 regiments were regularly flying 2Lts out after commissioning with only the 1-week PDT, and before Brecon or Phase 2/3 courses. That will have focused minds on the quality line.
Having been sent on TELIC in 2006 as a SN Troop Leader off the back of a four week GYC commissioning course, a few nugatory TAs weekends on SPTA, and a couple of months' PDT / suicidal drinking in Germany, I can well believe this.

Nearly fifteen years later and I still sometimes wonder What The Actual F the Army was thinking...
 

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#90
@Glad_its_all_over Yes, well I'm currently seeing (a peer group where I know most of them) the latest quality round at beige. I'd estimate that (DEs) while the Corps does well out of Sandhurst; by senior Captain it's about 35% duffers; at Major it's around 50%; of Lt Cols 70% are inadequate in many regards; and a good 90% of full Cols are deeply unimpressive seat-warmers, considering their age and experience. One of the two recent 1*s is an actively bad officer, and that now seems to be a fairly uniform opinion across Corps officers (previously it was only those in his Bn). So with examples like that...

Contributing are all the reasons I've said before: fatalism about bad retention*; rewarding the risk-averse and sycophantic; rewarding those who throw toys out of the pram; lack of serious professional development; wholesale importing of variable quality transferees at too high a rank; questionable LE commission choices. But basically it just looks like - compared to high quality peers of their age within the Army, let alone outside - the more senior the Corps officer, the less relative quality they seem to have to their peer group, and the more obvious flaws.

That, and the core Army problem that the system of putting all your institutional energy into gving a small number of individuals a golden path to the top, means that the rest tend to be a bit pump.

* A recent example: someone just graded top of a very competitive peer group, goes to their CO to raise the fact that they were considering leaving, and the reply is: well everyone needs to start a second career some time! Sometimes it's almost as if they want the top third to leave.
 

Glad_its_all_over

ADC
Book Reviewer
#91
@Glad_its_all_over Yes, well I'm currently seeing (a peer group where I know most of them) the latest quality round at beige. I'd estimate that (DEs) while the Corps does well out of Sandhurst; by senior Captain it's about 35% duffers; at Major it's around 50%; of Lt Cols 70% are inadequate in many regards; and a good 90% of full Cols are deeply unimpressive seat-warmers, considering their age and experience. One of the two recent 1*s is an actively bad officer, and that now seems to be a fairly uniform opinion across Corps officers (previously it was only those in his Bn). So with examples like that...

Contributing are all the reasons I've said before: fatalism about bad retention*; rewarding the risk-averse and sycophantic; rewarding those who throw toys out of the pram; lack of serious professional development; wholesale importing of variable quality transferees at too high a rank; questionable LE commission choices. But basically it just looks like - compared to high quality peers of their age within the Army, let alone outside - the more senior the Corps officer, the less relative quality they seem to have to their peer group, and the more obvious flaws.

That, and the core Army problem that the system of putting all your institutional energy into gving a small number of individuals a golden path to the top, means that the rest tend to be a bit pump.

* A recent example: someone just graded top of a very competitive peer group, goes to their CO to raise the fact that they were considering leaving, and the reply is: well everyone needs to start a second career some time! Sometimes it's almost as if they want the top third to leave.
That's a broad condemnation but you're much closer to it than I, of course.

One point you make - about questionable LE commission choices - does ring very true. While most of the Corps' LEs are sterling folk, brimming with smarts and jolly good sorts to boot, there has been a tendency to grab big badge wearers and clap some pips on them without really considering how they'd do in a new - and different - role. I'm not sure that's doing either the unfortunate new LE or the Army any favours, particularly.
 

Caecilius

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#92
So... a 95% pass rate does seem weirdly high
In starting to wonder if there's a caveat I've missed, something along the lines of '95% of those who don't voluntarily withdraw'. The 95% figure was certainly being thrown around when I was there but now I think about it, I'm not sure it adds up. I was in two platoons (not including my time in Lucknow) and of those we had two voluntary withdrawals and two MDs, which already puts those platoons below 95%.

My fundamental point is that I don't remember a single cadet failing due to being incompetent. Everyone who got backtermed had magically improved by the time they got to the end of senior term again... I'm probably wrong about the 95% figure but RMAS didn't seem to provide a quality filter and I'm convinced that's not a good thing.
 
#93
Intro as is mandatory, I attended AOSB for the first time and 'just' missed out on a pass having literally borderline passed everything but still seen as 'just' too high a risk for Sandhurst, I was advised to try again in 9 months time.

Being fully aware that you only receive 2 chances at AOSB in your lifetime, I spoke to my CSM and he recommended that I enlist as a regular, gain soldier and leadership experience and then try the officer route again, whilst giving myself the best possible shot at it.

The CSM advised it would be a simple process where I inform the CoC that I want to do it, and apply as is normal on the British Army website and he also said that I can do this at any time I like after training, however he recommended that I at least stay for a couple of years in my unit as a soldier.

Attended my AC, received a high A and was advised to go down the officer route in my final interview, which was obviously frustrating feedback as it was clearer to me that I could have done better at AOSB which was disappointing. So, I start basic at Pirbright in Nov as a Surveyor for the RE.

Having done plenty of research on multiple websites including the forums on here, I have come across a lengthy process for the "Late-entry" route to officer with no mention to the (assumed up-to-date) simple apply online process.

I would like to know if it is as simple as the CSM said, apply online like a civvy would whenever I like and just inform my CoC, like you would to a civvy employer (get a reference etc) or would you have to go down the potential officer development course etc. route that the late entry process states and be recommended by your CoC etc etc.?

All help is appreciated, been on the forum a while now giving and taking, this is a question I should have asked a while ago.
Work out your deficiencies. Train them out and go back and smash your AOSB
 

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#94
In starting to wonder if there's a caveat I've missed, something along the lines of '95% of those who don't voluntarily withdraw'. The 95% figure was certainly being thrown around when I was there but now I think about it, I'm not sure it adds up. I was in two platoons (not including my time in Lucknow) and of those we had two voluntary withdrawals and two MDs, which already puts those platoons below 95%.

My fundamental point is that I don't remember a single cadet failing due to being incompetent. Everyone who got backtermed had magically improved by the time they got to the end of senior term again... I'm probably wrong about the 95% figure but RMAS didn't seem to provide a quality filter and I'm convinced that's not a good thing.
Depends what you call a fail. They didn't fail per se, but we had - for example - two aspiring infantry officers who clearly failed. Both had two infantry choices. One (somewhat unfairly) got sent to the RLC, the other (entirely fairly) almost failed to get through clearing, until finally someone twisted the AGC's arm behind their back and forced them to take him in the SPS. In both cases this was due to their perceived or actual incompetence, in the eyes of DS, at the role they aspired to. Of course all sorts of fluff like "face fits" was thrown around to say that wasn't it, but that's what it was.

I think it's just been the case for some time that the unstated meaning of failure at RMAS is that you'll be relegated to serving a minimum of 3 years in a backwater job where nobody actually cares if you are a bit crap, like an RAMC admin officer or an SPS det commander. That's also why, in my opinion, it's a bad idea to push the choices of arm forward or have confirmed cadets, as we've discussed before.

There is also always the option to fail your JOC. Again, we had a guy who did go infantry, should not have done, failed PCBC twice and was sent to the RMP. I've noticed people can and do definitively fail all of the teeth arm JOCs (pilots courses, PCBC and people fail Bovington, correct?), but it's unfortunately much rarer for CS or CSS arm ones, which range from serious competition for good jobs to simple attendence pissups.
 

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#95
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.
For interest comparison, 2008:

Platoon started with (I think) 28, ended with 25, inherited 5 from Lucknow / backterms, so must have lost 8 (!), almost all of them in Juniors.

A. At least 4 left in Juniors. One was just awful and clearly unsuitable personality and competence wise, he was pushed out after Long Reach having accumulated two Academy warnings in 7 weeks for integrity and jackness. One was very miserable for personal reasons, left, then rejoined a year later. One left in the first week, he's just a passport photo silhouette in my mind. One was not great and decided it wasn't for him at the end of Juniors.
B. 2 were backtermed, one in Inters, one in Juniors, both definitely commissioned.
C. 2 were injured. One went to Lucknow at the end of Juniors, lost track of him; the other was injured on Long Reach and had to go because his recovery was likely to be more than 12 months.

So we had 18% who definitely left the Army, and lost 29% of original strength. 3 were overseas cadets, who (somehow) stuck it the whole way. Our Juniors passport photo board suggested that, had we stayed on that trend, the dropout rate would have been comparable to selection...

I find it's hard with long courses like that. It seems like the people you pass with were always there, but when you go through it and count, you find that there is a much smaller % who actually started with you. Those who leave during the course seem to be basically unpersons in my memory.
 
#96
I don't really remember people failing BRNC (but it was in the last millennium). However, there's a fairly healthy chop rate in their first sea experience and subsequently their first assessed course. I think in my branch it's something like a 70% first pass rate, and c90% total pass rate. Of course, we lose loads - across all three thirds - at their first option to PVR.
 

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