Written off at 27/28, already??

Discussion in 'Join the Army - Regular Officer Recruiting' started by barton, Mar 17, 2011.

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  1. Hi guys,
    This is my first post as just joined the forum. Apologies if this topic has been done to death, but would appreciate some advice.

    I'm right in the thick of my officer application process. Got my AOSB 2-day briefing soon.
    I am 26 at the moment, and I appreciate that I am in the upper end of the age bracket (Just taken me longer to find my calling)

    In my ACA interview and on the normal websites I've read/been told that there are opportunities as long as you get into Sandhurst by 29. My first pick is the Infantry. I've been on visits etc and again no one has mentioned that my age maybe a barrier.

    However today I was given some advice by a senior officer. He says that I will only have a slim chance of getting into an Infantry regiment, even if I perform exceptionally at RMAS, as by the time I would have commissioned I would be 28, and the regiments will just go for the younger guys, even if I were a half-superman.

    I can understand the rationale for this, but I know I'm healthy and fitter than a lot of whippersnappers out there and there are older guys than me serving front line. This will motivate me to work harder, but still, can't help wondering if I would be pouring my heart into something only to be denied at the end purely because of my birth date.

    Anyone have any experience of this? Did anyone else struggle to find a placement after commissioning because of age?

  2. Hi.

    How long till you turn 27?
  3. Jesus Christ. This again?
  4. Well, it's an odd one this particular problem. Generally the selection boards try to get the younger bloods. That is not to say you would not be considered, just up against some stiff competition.

    The other aspect is that you will (as will all your course) on the LTOS career structure (length term of service). This meaning that you will need to serve 8/10 years prior to your first look at promotion to major (8 for grads, 10 for non grads).

    So if you are a graduate and commission at 29, you are not looking at promotion to Major until 37. Your peers will be going through the process in their late 20's early 30's.

    Beyond that another 6 to 8 years and you are hunting for your Lt Col, at possibly 45 years old.

    Competition for Infantry CO's is fierce now and anything that could be held against you, will be.

    The Infantry needs to look at the long term plan and if they cannot see a solid return in investment from you in terms of longevity, it's unlikely to invest in you early.

    Hope that makes sense!
  5. I'm 27 in October and am just about to get my provisional dates for AOSB Briefing. Had my interview with the senior officer yesterday and age was a recurring theme. Basically the feedback was:

    Be open minded about regiment choice. Chances are you wont be offered sponsorship from any combat arms for the following reasons:

    1. Career longevity is favoured and therefore prioritised.
    2. Fitness capability (of course this is debatable).

    Another underlying theme was that it's also down to "if they like you". Sounds fuzzy but I believe this refers to you as an overall package along with the 2 points above, your morals and charisma. There's an element of development too. Men in their early 20's are likely to be more characteristically malleable than old gits of 26.

    Having said that, some oldies do make it into combat arms. I was told that last year 5 cadets my age or older made it into Para Reg. I don't know what that number means since I don't know how many were turned down, but there's apparently a slim chance.
  6. In short, each of the combat arm regiments (along with the RA and RE) is trying to recruit the main stream Generals of the future who will command Brigades and Divisions. Much of this has to do with maintaining influence at the highest levels and ultimately, in some cases, regimental survival. Unlike the RA and RE, individual RAC and Infantry regiments can only take a very few officers each, every year. This means that they are driven to predominantly take officers who have got at least an outside chance of making it to General rank. This in the knowledge that some will leave earlier and others will fail to be promoted beyond one point or another because of the competition from higher calibre officers in other regiments.

    In order to be a General (broadly speaking) you need to command a regular regiment or battalion and then a brigade. Given that eligibility for promotion to Major and Lt Col are based in part on time served, it means that if you are in your late 20s when you commission, you are probably going to be too old to realistically compete for a regular command (within the combat arms) by the time you hit Lt Col. This means that you are out of the running to be a General from day one.

    Clearly if you demonstrate that you will be an outstanding junior officer, a small regiment may well accept you knowing full well that you will never be CGS but hoping that one of the other couple of officers in your cohort, will.

    To be absolutely clear, the other parts of the army do have Brigadiers and Generals, but these are promoted through the specialist career fields (logistics, etc.) and are not tied so much to command and therefore are less effected by age.

  7. Thank you guys.
    It all makes perfect sense now, but wasn't something that was raised with me before so just had to ask.
    Your help is much appreciated.
  8. There shouldn't be a problem with joining up at your age, however I would agree that going Inf at say 29 when your peers will be around 18-23 could be problematic.

    At 26, you're probably as fit as you were at 18, you are at your peak. However you will start to fade by 30 and by 35ish things aren't as easy as they used to be. Before all the 30 year olds say "I'm super fit", yes you probably are but can you honestly say you don't pick up injuries more now? Was your best PFT time 5 years ago?

    Those joining up in mid to late 20's tended to look at the CS arms (RA, RE, R SIGNALS and INT CORPS) and to be honest cap badge becomes less and less important as you rise up the ranks. We all end up driving DII eventually.
  9. Not an expert in this field at all having never been an officer. However, I do someone who was comissioned into the infantry at the maximum upper age limit. He spent all his time from Lt to Maj on secondment to the UDR and later he was an SO2 at a Bde HQ.

    He claims to have really enjoyed himself etc., but does regret that despite having been commissioned into what was a small regiment no one has ever heard of him. Indeed in the rare occassions that he visited his regiment's battalion people thought he was a TA officer rather than holder of a Reg C.
  10. OP, I’m in the same position (elderly and hoping for a commission in the Infantry) so best of luck with this!

    The advice given to me was to get AOSB Main Board out of the way as soon as possible, and with your AOSB pass write to infantry regiments directly for an interview - most Regiments won’t take you seriously without the AOSB MB pass. Get on the PIOFV Infantry visit and get chatting to the Officers there.

    I understand that while the guideline cut off age is 26/27, exceptions are made. Once you satisfy the fitness questions, you will be judged on your merits. Don’t underestimate the fitness though – as an older candidate you will have a lot less leeway on this at sponsorship stage, and if you mess up at sponsorship stage it’s a lot harder to get an Inf commission at RMAS.

    Sponsorship doesn’t matter in the general scheme of things, but from what I’ve heard it helps your credibility, and it also helps that the regiment that sponsors you will be keeping an eye on you throughout the course, which is handy for Regt Selection Board.

    The “will he make General” point of view is a new one for me, what has been said to me by my ACA and on Fam visits is that Regimental Selection Boards at RMAS judge you on your perceived ability as a junior officer, rather than what might happen down the line. However posters here are a lot more experienced than me so you’ll have to judge for yourself.
  11. Just to be absolutely clear concerning my points above about future Generals; there will always be a balance between the attributes required in potential officers. Clearly there is always the requirement for high calibre junior officers, regardless of their potential (or lack of) for future advancement. However, given that combat arms regiments are commonly oversubscribed by high calibre potential officers and that the number of slots per cap-badge are so limited, you can't be too surprised that (all other things being equal) regiments will tend toward the younger candidates, who have greater promotion potential over the long term.

    Also, as stated above, is the physical effect of age on the body. An officer who joins at 28 will probably not be eligible to command a company or squadron until he is about 42. Frankly, based on my view from my mid-30s, I think that this is too old to command a teeth arms sub-unit.

    On a slightly different note, I also think it would be pretty difficult (socially) to be a new Infantry Platoon Commander or RAC Troop Leader in your late 20s, given that you're likely to be the same age or older than your Sqn/Coy 2IC and possibly your Adjutant as well. I can't say how thing might differ in a combat support or combat service support unit.
  12. Oh, I also wanted to comment on the age thing with respect to those more senior that one's self. Of course, it's a reality that the Adjutant (for example) may be of equal age, or younger, than me. However, that is what it is. I'm not one who considers age before experience - they are that rank / role and I am not.

    I can imagine life being difficult for someone who didn't possess that way of thinking, though.
  13. Snoreador,

    Sounds like you are going into this eyes wide open, good for you! I think a RAC Regt will provide you with a better fit than an Inf Regt. Although both Cbt Arms, there's quite a difference in what you'll be doing and how. That is until you become a desk bound officer doing reports and returns via DII all day long!

    From then on, your age and capbadge are basically merely a record of how you spent your YO days.
  14. Small Cheese,

    Time spent in recce is seldom wasted and all that... Indeed, I can well imagine things being different in an inf. regiment. However, I've still been encouraged to apply to some of these by regimental reps.

    I can't comment further on that though as because raw infanteering doesn't immediately attract me, I think I would be wasting their time if I went along 'just because'.

  15. I think you'll find that the cultural similarities between the Infantry and HCAV/RAC far outweigh the differences, when compared to the other arms.

    While I can't deny that officers tend to spend an increasing amount of time in the office as their careers progress; I would point out that the degree to which this is true rather depends on the job you choose outside regimental duty.

    If you think that all officers are the same, regardless of arm or service, once they leave regimental duty then you are sorely mistaken. Wait until you go to ICSCL. The sort of staff jobs you do are likely to be determined (in part) by which part of the army you are a part of. This reflects the balance in E1 and E2 jobs and this spanning the different career fields.