What specialisations are open to Infantry Officers

Hello everyone,

It is my intention to apply to join the Army as an Officer once I complete my degree. I’m very interested in pursuing a commission with an Infantry unit. My question is what sort of specialist postings are available for Infantry officers once qualified. Without sounding like too much of a dreamer I hope to apply for the Special Forces before I reach the rank of Captain. Prior to that how easy and how likely is it to apply for posting to reconnaissance platoons such as the pathfinders or the special forces support group within my first two years?
 

EddieVDog

War Hero
If you want Pathfinders or SFSG then you need to join Para Reg' as an officer. As for likelihood of getting there within your first two years, I'd say more chance of a BJ off the Pope's wife.
 
If you want Pathfinders or SFSG then you need to join Para Reg' as an officer.
No you don't. Unsure Re SFSG (though a bloke I commissioned with who joined the RE ended up there - but he may have transferred to Para), but any cap badge can (at least could, in 2015 when I left) apply for the Pathfinders.

Coming from the Paras may help your chances / preparation but it's not a prerequisite for PF.

@JS113 The OC PF is (was, when I was in 16X) a senior Captain so chances of getting there as a Lt are slim to none. Most (all?) Infantry battalions with have a Recce or Patrols platoon.
 
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Pathfinder selection is open to all arms.

First posting after RMAS with Para reg will be to 2 or 3 PARA as a Platoon Commander, with chance to go to 1 PARA after that.

Your first priority as an officer will be leading, managing and taking care of the soldiers in your platoon, not training for selection or other ally roles.
 

EddieVDog

War Hero
No you don't. Unsure Re SFSG (though a bloke I commissioned with who joined the RE ended up there - but he may have transferred to Para), but any cap badge can (at least could, in 2015 when I left) apply for the Pathfinders.

Coming from the Paras may help your chances / preparation but it's not a prerequisite for PF.

@JS113 The OC PF is a senior Captain so chances of getting there as a Lt are slim to none. Most (all?) Infantry battalions with have a Recce or Patrols platoon.
I stand corrected
 
Most (all?) Infantry battalions with have a Recce or Patrols platoon.

The recce pl OC in our battalion was always a captain.

At OP, I would think you'd be too busy finding your feet for the first couple of years leading/ managing a duty platoon with the loving nurturing guidance of your pl sgt and getting lots of exercises etc under your belt.
 
Or instead of infantry pick a specialisation that has personnel with the paras, and/or commando forces. Best of both worlds that way.
 
What specialisations are open to Infantry Officers
That would be Mortar Pl, Signals Pl, Anti-Tank Pl, Assault Pioneer Pl *, Recce Pl, MT, although Mortars is often a Captain's post.

*if such creatures still exist .
 

JS1113

Clanker
Thanks for all the helpful responses.

I particularly take on board the very sensible points on where my priorities should lie in the first few years- namely focusing on developing and growing into the role of a platoon commander as opposed to chasing my own ambitions. Above everything else my soldiers and their development need to come first.
I feel I need to quantify my question a bit though. The only reason I mentioned that I’d like to experience specialist roles early in service is because it was explained to me, by a serving Parachute Regiment WO2, that officers cannot attempt SF selection after the rank of Captain. He told me that typically the Para officers who pass SF selection tend to be on rare occasions Lieutenants, who are well established in that rank and close to promoting, but the vast majority are junior Captains. Understandably he said to not even entertain it as a 2nd Lt. With regards to applying as a Lieutenant he basically said that not only does applying too early as an officer sharply reduce the likelihood of passing but it’s also very unlikely your chain of command would support your selection application anyway. On passing SF selection as an officer you will be allocated a role of Troop commander and that role is nine times out or ten filled by a Captain with infantry experience he explained.

I understand infantry officers typically reach the rank of Captain within 4 years or have I picked this up wrong?
My point being, as badly as I came across, if SF is my goal it seems I really only have four years from passing out of Sandhurst to applying for selection as a junior Captain. I understand also that it isn’t a prerequisite that I have experience of, for example, a recce platoon but I do think role such as that would only deepen experience and prepare me for the rigours of SF service.


@Tappet thank you for your reply. You mention the OC of Pathfinders is typically a senior Captain. Is this the only role available for an officer in the Pathfinders? Therefore are officers not permitted to apply for Pathfinder selection until that role becomes vacant?

@Glasgow_Jock and @Andy Farman Thanks both. The same question really but with regards to the support platoons such as recce, snipers, Mortars. Do they only have need for one officer- i.e their platoon commander or are there roles for more junior officers in these platoons as well?

@Effendi Thank you. If I were to commission into a support unit within 16 air assault or 3 Commando brigade is there a minimum amount of service one must complete prior to applying for All Arms P company or the Commando course?


I also fully understand and appreciate that I need to walk before I attempt to run. First and foremost I need to pass AOSB before anything and then get through Sandhurst. I also understand just how competitive infantry regiments will be, particularly the Parachute Regiment. This isn’t false modesty and I acknowledge that I definitely can’t predict my actual performance at Sandhurst if I do indeed make it there. I also get that for many career aspirations and reality does not always match up. I’m 21 now and obviously will miss this years intake. Therefore if all goes according to plan the best I can hope for is passing out of Sandhurst by age 23/24. Therefore I’ll be 26/27 maybe even 28 by the time I am realistically ready to apply for selection. My priorities by then may have changed by then. That being said I am taking it all very seriously and am putting my all into this. My focus now is continuing to improve my physical fitness. In addition to my fitness I am also ensuring I practice psychometric tests a number of times a week too. I have also found a number of sample planning exercise papers that I am drilling myself on too. I am also practicing my speed, distance and time calculations and essentially working hard to improve my mathematical agility. Rest assured I am certainly not going to ask anyone involved in my recruitment or training questions about SF. The way I see it is Arrse fills a gap in the recruitment space where potential applicants can ask questions with the cloak of anonymity.

Thank you all again for all the useful points above and I genuinely appreciate you all taking time out to reply. If anyone else has answers to the questions or advice please don’t hesitate to join the discussion. I really do value the experience of those with experience.

Thanks.
 
I understand infantry officers typically reach the rank of Captain within 4 years or have I picked this up wrong?
My point being, as badly as I came across, if SF is my goal it seems I really only have four years from passing out of Sandhurst to applying for selection as a junior Captain. I understand also that it isn’t a prerequisite that I have experience of, for example, a recce platoon but I do think role such as that would only deepen experience and prepare me for the rigours of SF service.

@Glasgow_Jock and @Andy Farman Thanks both. The same question really but with regards to the support platoons such as recce, snipers, Mortars. Do they only have need for one officer- i.e their platoon commander or are there roles for more junior officers in these platoons as well?

Yes each support coy pl only requires one officer.

One of my former platoon commanders (whom I would describe as a 'flyer') passed P-Coy as a junior captain approx 4 years into his career. He did a stint as OC mortars pl as a captain as well. I'm not sure when he became a major/ coy OC, I think about 8-9 years into his career.

I don't really know the 'natural' career progression for good officers, more enlisted. Plenty on here who could comment.
 

rustypilgrim

Old-Salt
If your ultimate aim is to try for SF, don't get too fixated on going to the Infantry. Of my Sqn Commanders I served with, infantrymen were a distinct minority. No Corps prevailed, they were RE, RA, R. Sigs, RCT and cavalry. And I say that as an ex-infantryman myself with no axe to grind.

The only advice I'd give you is to just look at and concentrate on the immediate step or two in front of you and not try to overthink things or plan too long a game. Get used to giving everything a 110% effort as thats all that will get you through SF Selection (especially Officers Week!).
 

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
The only reason I mentioned that I’d like to experience specialist roles early in service is because it was explained to me, by a serving Parachute Regiment WO2, that officers cannot attempt SF selection after the rank of Captain. He told me that typically the Para officers who pass SF selection tend to be on rare occasions Lieutenants, who are well established in that rank and close to promoting, but the vast majority are junior Captains. Understandably he said to not even entertain it as a 2nd Lt. With regards to applying as a Lieutenant he basically said that not only does applying too early as an officer sharply reduce the likelihood of passing but it’s also very unlikely your chain of command would support your selection application anyway. On passing SF selection as an officer you will be allocated a role of Troop commander and that role is nine times out or ten filled by a Captain with infantry experience he explained.
This is all accurate and good advice. Occasionally there are waivers to attempt Selection post-Captain but very rarely.

I understand infantry officers typically reach the rank of Captain within 4 years or have I picked this up wrong?
My point being, as badly as I came across, if SF is my goal it seems I really only have four years from passing out of Sandhurst to applying for selection as a junior Captain. I understand also that it isn’t a prerequisite that I have experience of, for example, a recce platoon but I do think role such as that would only deepen experience and prepare me for the rigours of SF service.
(All the following only applies to Selection as an officer)

It depends on your graduation status and degree, but the average promotion to Captain is 3 years after commissioning. Once you work in phase 3 (role) training after Sandhurst, this is one posting, or if short posting timelines (fairly random, depends where you fall in the cycle), one and a half.

Officers remain a Captain for about 4-6 years. You are arbitrarily taking the start point as a junior Captain as when you should try selection, and this isn't particularly wise. I'd suggest the best route is: first post (2Lt: platoon commander, 24 months); second half-posting (Lt: ADC, deployment or possibly training role, all usually 6-12 months); third post (Jr Captain: support company command like recce, 24 months); attempt Selection. That is quite a normal route, and gives you the chance to try again if you fail first time (also quite normal).

However, bear in mind that many (possibly most) subsequently very successful officers did Selection while or immediately after they were a senior Captain (so after being an Adjutant or Ops officer). Ultimately your role as a junior-ish officer in SF is unlikely to involve much door kicking, but will involve a lot of autonomy and responsibility. They select those who can handle that, fitness and capability is just the entry fee. If you pass as a Lt or very junior Captain, you will be to an extent at a disadvantage as you are competing against more experienced and (possibly) mature individuals. This is particularly true today when there is less operational experience around to fast-track your development.

A complimentary note to that is: during your initial jobs, take every opportunity to do a deployed role, whether on a short-notice trawl or a formal posting application (e.g. after your first posting). This also means what you may think are non-green HQ posts. AT roles and shiny marching are not of much value. If you understand or have experience of the SO2 (Major) level of operational staffwork, such as being Battle Captain in an operational ops room, your chances of passing Officers Week will be much better. Ultimately, as an officer: Aptitude is the entry fee, Officers Week is the real test, and Continuation is just checking you are professionally competent enough to be credible. Nobody will select you because you may be the best lead scout or sniper the group has ever seen. They will select you because you are highly competent at staffwork, are a good planner and decision-maker, and your character fits.

Other than that, the approach and plan you describe seem mature and sensible.

@Tappet thank you for your reply. You mention the OC of Pathfinders is typically a senior Captain. Is this the only role available for an officer in the Pathfinders? Therefore are officers not permitted to apply for Pathfinder selection until that role becomes vacant?
No, there are a handful of PF officer posts. Given your aspirations, it might make sense to attempt PF selection as a Lt with an aim to do a tour there as a junior Captain, instead of a support company platoon commander.

Finally, I disagree with @rustypilgrim . Correct, it's not required to be infantry or RAC. But particularly today with a dearth of operational experience, being a combat arms officer will give you a massive advantage in training and experience that you will find much harder to get in a support Corps. There are some appropriate roles (such as Brigade recce in the RE or RA) but they are fewer in number, with more competition. Again, passing Selection is just the entry fee, but still most fail so you want to maximise your chances. Additionally, several infantry regiments (Paras, Rifles, Gren and Irish Guards are/were best) actively support and give time to those who want to attempt Selection, while the Corps generally do not. An RAC recce regiment is also a good choice, because the Recce Commander's Course, which I think still many of them go on (ask @Caecilius), is highly regarded and good preparation for Selection.

Selection is a pretty big hurdle in itself, so ultimately you aim to maximise your chances. It is possible to do it through other routes, but the one above will throw the least number of additional hurdles in your way, while making it easiest to get the experience you need.
 
Would think the first thing is to pass the AOSB Briefing, then Main Board and then get to RMAS.
Then if you are good enough apply to the Para's & are an above average cadet you might get lucky.

Sorry to put a spanner in the works, but you need to be able to walk before you can run!
 

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
Would think the first thing is to pass the AOSB Briefing, then Main Board and then get to RMAS.
Then if you are good enough apply to the Para's & are an above average cadet you might get lucky.

Sorry to put a spanner in the works, but you need to be able to walk before you can run!
If you read his post, he acknowledged that, twice. It's sensible to understand the whole route before you start walking.
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
If you read his post, he acknowledged that, twice. It's sensible to understand the whole route before you start walking.
Indeed having aspirations that you can plan to achieve is no bad thing!
 

JS1113

Clanker
Once again thank you to everyone who has added to this discussion. It really is helping me a lot.

@UKAviationGroup Thanks for the reply. You most certainly have not thrown a spanner in the works, so please don’t worry about that. You have just essentially repeated what I posted in my second post on this thread. You may have missed what I wrote regarding my preparations. My immediate focus remains on preparing myself for the AOSB and presenting the best possible version of myself during the recruitment process. I’m fully aware that at 21 it’s probably not the most wise decision to plan my career trajectory in too much detail. As such I am open and ready for change. Nonetheless, having goals and ambitions do act as a driving force for me. I genuinely appreciate the advice though and take your points on board.

@rustypilgrim Thank you. Definitely surprised to read that. Taking 2021 performance for example the Parachute Regiment have stated via their official social channels that 70+% of their NCOs & officers consistently placed in the Top 1/3 on IBS Brecon & Specialist weapon courses (sniper). They also stated that in 2021 more Paratroopers passed Joint SF selection than most field army units combined. Hence why I am looking to maximise my chances by pursuing the Parachute Regiment/Infantry. The Para Reg WO2 I met with was of the mind that the overwhelming majority of SF officers, particularly at troop commander level have came in from infantry backgrounds.


@Sarastro I can’t thank you enough for offering such good advice and answering my many questions. You have given me plenty to consider and reflect on. Your post is absolutely fantastic. Thank you for putting such effort and time into helping me.
 
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That would be Mortar Pl, Signals Pl, Anti-Tank Pl, Assault Pioneer Pl *, Recce Pl, MT, although Mortars is often a Captain's post.

*if such creatures still exist .
They do still exist but to my knowledge no pioneer platoon has an officer, platoon commander is a sergeant or colour man, there is a WO at Gib but that's it afaik
 
They do still exist but to my knowledge no pioneer platoon has an officer, platoon commander is a sergeant or colour man, there is a WO at Gib but that's it afaik
Racking my brains to recall who were the platoon commanders in 2 (Support) Coy in 2CG in the 70s. I think you may be right, I do not recall an officer for the Assault Pioneers, if anything they had a Colour Sgt.
 

Eyes_Right

Old-Salt
Of course, if instead you prefer to enter the field of battle in a more loud and rambunctious fashion, dispensing death and carnage at the press of a button, you might also consider applying for pilot training with the AAC after you’ve got a couple of years under your belt. It’s not an easy life, totty constantly calling you at all hours, total strangers queuing up to buy you drinks, and just the sheer weight of that big watch, but all it takes is an application form!
 
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