Young Officer Training for operations

barbs said:
If a non-infantry YO is going to lead soldiers in an 'infantry role' does he need more than just RMAS training?
Probably after some lobbying, Director RAC allowed 'un-qualified' Officers from QDG, Scots DG and 1&2RTR to deploy on Op TELIC1, in some cases only a month after commissioning.

Whilst none of them were crewing Tanks or Scimitars, I think their experiences will have benfitted them hugely. So from that perspective, great.

Of course, the situation is rather different the-noo, and perhaps far more difficult in some ways for those chaps who get thrown straight from the Factory into incredibly sticky situations now, but particularly on TELICs 3 and 4 I think. It's the (albeit-very-hefty) responsibility of OPTAG to lend some weight of experience to these new guys.

Can one ask for a better test of character? And muchos respectos to those who were right in at the sharp end of business in Basra and Amarah last Summer.
As I have mentioned to many including Abacus, Yo's should be able to visit and serve with a senior unit either on Ex or on Ops. As a Yo you will never have the level of knowledge to do all of the tasks asked. That is why when you leave the Holy place you are graded and given a senior who will either look after you and give you lots of cuddles, or will let you get on with it and fine tune certain aspects.

Within a Corps this is slightly less pressured that at the F ech. Inf subbies have a Pl that ultimately will go and fight. You need to have the Tactical nowse to get you out of situations and achieve the main effort. I am an ex gunner who worked with a Lt and 2Lt, as a 2Lt you are the Cpo surrounded by seniors and others with buckets of knowledge, so technically you dont need to go on a course. As the Lt you will need the Gpo's course which is related to survey. Without this you will not be able to manage the gun position, even today with gps.

If you can get on the TP'YS course prior to being Mob ex then great. I intend to complete the Capt stuff and then go to a senior unit and work with them and the apply to mob ex.
Good luck, there is not much help out there due to budgets. Get some backing form on high and get the courses done it will make you a far more rounded individual.
Have recently come back from the sandy place, and have seen new RAC Tp Comds cutting their teeth on some very difficult and complex ops, in the dismounted and mounted role. Some grew up very quickly indeed whilst up north. All I can say is that the OPTAG trg for us was spot on, and mission rehearsals were entirely worthwhile, especially as a catch-all for non-inf types like me.

Sadly, for the new lads pre Tp Comds course, it's off to the ops room and time to experience the world of watchkeeping!


I commanded an infantry platoon in NI for a year in the mid-1980s having done no more than RMAS, NITAT and NIRTT, and the same was true for all of the subalterns in my company. At that time, policy - in my Bn at least - seemed to be that PCBC was undertaken 6 months to a year after finishing RMAS, in order to give the subbies some experience of commanding soldiers before going to Warminster to get into all the nitty-gritty.

My own experience was that this wasn't much of a problem. My first operation was difficult, and felt very much like a command task at RMAS, but I had a good platoon sergeant and a wilco platoon, as well as an excellent coy comd (subsequently a two star), and my own feeling was that I learned the ropes reasonably quickly with their help. Would I have been better had I done PCBC? Not in the operational scenario I was in, I suspect. The difficulties I experienced as a young Subbie were in the management of soldiers when we weren't in the field, not on ops when it seemed very clean cut and straightforward.

Having said that, in a complex warfighting environment, I can see that it would be next to impossible to expect a newly commissioned Subbie to command, for example, an armd inf platoon without having done the course first.

But I would also add: I suspect many, if not most, of us have been put in command of things for which we haven't been trained - that's the way the British Army works; command is often different to technical execution. So in conclusion, I would say that while its always desirable that everyone should have received all of the relevant training, it isn't always strictly necessary and needs to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, otherwise we might well end up cutting off our noses to spite our faces.


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barbs said:
Another thread has commented on BBC documentaries about RA in Iraq. I saw an episode where one of the tp ldrs arrived apparently straight from RMAS -i.e., without going on Tp Ldrs course.
Don't believe every little fact that a documentary tells you- it was obviously easier to say that he had come straight from Sandhurst rather than try and explain what a YOs' course was.

stabtastic said:
Quite right though; we wouldn't put a rifle section into a gun line (there you go fellers, you'll get the hang of it).
I would quite happily put a rifle section in a gun line- we always need people to hump ammunition back and forth between guns.


Come on its only posh mortars after all and we used to learn that in about 4-6 weeks!
How hard can it be to drop short?
Cynical Subbie, my friend, I agree. If it takes 4 - 6 weeks for someone to learn how to take a mortar to bits, then they are destined for the Infantry.


Never take them to bits mate, you'll only end up losing something! besides stop promoting me!
Basra_subbie said:
spotty said:
I know that i did not fulfil an infantry style role on Telic 1 but I was one of 4 people pulled off my YO's course to deplot on Telic under the belief that we would learn more on ops than we would in a classroom. While it was a very high profile job I had it was not infantry and I make no pretence that it was.
However, none of received much support on the tour, to the point that 2 of us are now in the last few months of our service having received such diabolical treatment one for certain suffered a disgraceful lack of confidence that has destroyed a future in the Army. Whether you agree or not, the decision is made at a higher level and therefore the troopie deserves support from those more senior around them, please avoid destroying troopies careers in the way that two young subbies have had them destroyed. And no, they were not weak and unmilitary.
That's a couple of individuals. The other two, of the four to whom you refer, had a far more positive experience. Here's the posting that one of them wrote about the experience: (original at

11D said:
With reference to the Tp Comd being pulled off the Tp Comd cse.

There were only 4 Tp Comds taken off of the Tp Comd Cse to deploy on TELIC 1, and that was it. I believe the same thing happened in GW1 I can't be sure. I can certainly tell you that all 4 were not wrongly employed in the slightest and in fact all were employed in 'high profile' tp Comd posts - TN comds and Bde HQ Tp Comds. What is also worthy of note is that these tp comds had all spent 7 months at a working unit 'learning their trade' before going on there first troop comds course for a further 3 months. THey were all meant to be on a Tp Comd Cse in Jun 02, but since the Corps were short of YofS, a Tp Comd Cse was cancelled to make way for a YofS cse and a backlog of Tp Comd awaiting cse ensued.

To suggest that a certain CO was barking to make this decision, well I disagree. Actually I would say he was well within his rights to make that decision since the Troopies were offically on his units books (TOS Unit NOT RSS) and consequently being paid for out of the unit budget. If one of your Cpls, Sgts, SSMs etc etc were on course would you not ask for them back?? If ATRA hadn't decided to take Troopies on their Tp Comd Cse off of their budget and transfer them accross to a unit responsibility then I would suggest that there may have ben a different outcome. I know there was certainly some high level debate over this issue of which I have no authority to comment since it is well above my pay bracket.

Are you suggesting that it would have been better therfore to send a Troop to war without the Troopy the men had become used to and was a well integrated member of the Tp, Sqn and Regt? Are you saying that a Troopy fresh from his Tp Comds cse with only a half the time spent at the unit an alien to the boys would have been more effective? As many have put it, the Troopy learns his job down on the tank park getting covered in OMD90 and benz and dragging SCAMs up and down. I personally believe replacing them with another Tp COmd outside of the unt would have been the wrong decision and would have affected the cohesion of the unit and ceratinly the Tp management function. This would have meant a new management team would have to learn to work together again in a operational environment which is the last thing you need. THe boys would also be getting messed around with their Tp COmd being changed every five minutes. Dont forget that this would also have had an effect on the sldrs career mangement, which of course is one of the main jobs of the Tp COmd. The 4 Tp Comds all had a very good knowledge each of their indiviudal sldrs prior to going on their first cse.

I speak with some authority on this subject since I was one of those 4. What made things more complex in my situation was that I had a newly promoted Tp Staffy on his first SSgt tour and some newly promoted Sgts. I know the others were in a similar situation. Thus the only Tp continuity was from the Tp Comd even it was only a 7 month period.

On return to the Tp Comds cse in july, the experience gained by these individuals (and others on the cse that had deployed for a few weeks) actually brought value to the cse as opposed to making it more difficult for the DS to teach. The cse was commended as being one of the better cse's in recent years and there was next to no "I know it all I've already done it" syndrome. Of course short cuts were taken as they always are on the Comd Cse's, but we know this alwyas happens anyway, especially when under extreme pressure, people are tired, time is short, things are not going to plan etc etc and you need to get things done.

As for the calibre of these 4 individuals, well one is a 4 1/2 year ex-ranker and one was in the running for the Sword of Honour at Sandhurst.

spotty said:
...and no, they were not weak and unmilitary.
Depends if your definition of 'weak and unmilitary' includes spending almost two years at RMAS, thanks to immense 'Y-list' time, collapsing during TELIC, and then being 'unable to do PT' while at 7 Sigs, doesn't it?

spotty said:
...2 of us are now in the last few months of our service...
My notes show:

1 officer happily commanding the White Helmets
1 officer shortly arriving at 11 Sig Regt
1 officer about to start with the AGC
...and [only] one officer signed off (on Mon 28 Feb 05, I believe).

Having read through this discussion with some interest, I followed the link back to the quotes from 11D on the Sigs board and carried on reading through. That thread seemed to be aptly closed off by CGS (MOD) when he wrote the following on Thu Aug 14 2003 (

'Finally, I would wish to make clear my thoughts on a very destructive force within the Corps. That is the cult of disparaging the capabilities, credibility and overall vlue delivered by all R SIGNALS personnel. If I catch another Officer selling a peer short for professional reasons via personal slight I'll have him for breakfast. On the same subject, as has already been mentioned, we have arguably the brightest bunch of all ranks and therefore we should be above the kind of damaging backstabinng that goes on from the bottom up!'

Seems a shame that even after two years the same sort of damaging slurs continue to be posted by members of a Corps, refering essentially to their own work collegues. Especially when using enough badly concealed personal information to quite obviously identify individuals i.e current/previous postings, and even sign off dates of all things. I'm fairly sure Basra_subbie wouldn't want his/her future postings or career plans plastered over a public forum. What's next? Posting bad OJAR write ups?

As CGS said in 2003, perhaps a little more tact and loyalty to fellow serving soldiers and officers is called for, despite personal opinions or past history - anything else reflects badly on all involved.

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