Types of Engagement in the British Army

1.0    Introduction

This article provides an overview of the types of engagement available in the British Army, specifically the Regular Army.

2.0     What are the Types of Engagement?

Personnel in the Regular force of the British Army can be enlisted on one of the following types of engagement:

  • Short Service;
  • Versatile; and/or
  • Local Service.

3.0     Short Service Engagements

Personnel employed on a short service engagement are enlisted for a term which expires on a date falling between 6 months and 12 years after the date of their enlistment.

Personnel can apply to transfer to a versatile engagement.

4.0    Versatile Engagements

The information provided below is generic to the Army and applied to those personnel governed by the Versatile Engagement (VEng) policy.

The VEng was introduced as a new type of engagement on 01 January 2008. This is the engagement that most Regular soldiers will enter service on. The VEng consists of three stages:

  • Versatile Engagement (Short):
    • VEng (Short) or VEng (S).
    • Soldiers will usually enlist on a VEng (Short) which enables them to complete up to 12 years of service.
  • Versatile Engagement (Full):
    • VEng (Full) of VEng (F).
    • During that time, they may be considered for extension (or conversion) to a VEng (Full) and serve a total of 24 years.
    • Must have completed at least three years’ service.
  • Versatile Engagement (Long Career):
    • VEng (Long) or VEng (LC).
    • VEng (Long) is a total of 30 years’ service.
    • The Long Service List (LSL) was superseded by the VEng (Long), with an estimated complete phase out by 2020.
    • Must have completed at least six years’ service.

4.1     VEng Selection Processes

There are two types of selection process:

  1. Automatic Selections Process:
    • Normally conversions from VEng (Short) to VEng (Full) will be offered once an individual has reached an agreed substantive rank.
    • This would be after they have:
      1. Been selected for promotion to that rank;
      2. Completed Command, Leadership and Management Part 1 programme (which is mandatory for those selected for promotion to the rank of Non-Commissioned Officer); and
      3. Achieved any other cap badge promotion requirements.
    • Some cap badges will require individuals to complete specific trade training before they are offered a conversion.
    • This is known as the Automatic Selections Process or Automatic VEng(F).
  • Conditional Selection Process:
    • An alternative is the Conditional Selection Process which converts individuals who are unlikely to reach the relevant substantive rank and training within the required timeframe.
    • The number of vacancies available under this process will alter and it is likely to be competitive as a boarding process is used in most cases to identify who will be granted an offer of conversion from VEng (Short) to VEng (Full).
    • Also known as the Conditional VEng(F).

Both these selection processes offer exactly the same engagement to VEng (Full).

4.2     Requirement to Leave After 12 Years’ Service

Personnel who are not given the automatic “offer” because they have not reached the relevant substantive rank and who are unsuccessful in the Conditional Selection process will be required to leave after 12 years’ service. Where this occurs, personnel are given at least twelve months’ notice.

VEng replaced the 22 year Open Engagement (OEng or OE) types. Therefore, a soldier who enlisted directly onto a 22 year engagement is not governed by VEng policy so would not have to leave after 12 years if they did not reach a specific rank.

Some soldiers serving on an OEng were offered the option of converting to a VEng (Full), or even VEng (Long), but varied between the cap badges (Table 1).

Table 1: OEng to VEng (Full)

Cap BadgeCriteria [1]
Royal Engineers (RE)1. All Lance Corporals (LCpl’s) who were selected for promotion to Corporal (Cpl) would be offered a VEng (Full).
2. Other offers would be made to meet specific manning requirements as stipulated by the RE Manning Brick, in consultation with the Army Personnel Centre (APC), for substantive Cpl to Warrant Officer Class One (WO1).
Royal Corps of Signals1. Offers would be made to all substantive Cpl’s provided they met the general Army criteria.
2. Offers would also be made to all substantive Privates (Pte’s) to LCpl who successfully passed the Special Forces Communicators Course (SFCC).
3. Other offers would be made on a quota basis depending on Yeoman of Signals (YoS), rank, and trade as stipulated by the RCS Manning Brick.
Queen’s Gurkha Rifles1. Offers would be made to all substantive Pte to Cpl who successfully passed the SFCC.
2. Other offers would be made on a quota basis depending on YoS, rank, trade, and needs of the service as stipulated by the RCS Manning Brick.
Infantry1. Offers would be made to all substantive Sergeants (Sgt’s) and above provided they met the general Army criteria.
2. Other offers would be made only if specific manning requirements existed as stipulated by the Infantry Manning Brick.
Army Air Corps (AAC): Aircrew1. Offers would be made to all personnel provided they had:
a. Substantive Sgt to WO1.
b. A minimum of SJAR grading of B (annual appraisal).
c. Met the general Army criteria.
2. Those in YoS year 20-21 would be offered VEng (Long).
AAC: Ground Crew1. Offers would be made to all personnel provided they had:
a. Substantive Cpl to WO1.
b. A minimum SJAR grading of B.
c. Met the general Army criteria.
Royal Logistics Corps (RLC)1. Offers would be made to all personnel provided they had:
a. Substantive LCpl to WO1.
b. Met the general Army criteria.
2. Offers may have been made to Pte soldiers who were recommended for promotion in 2015 based upon manning needs.
3. AOther offers would be made only if specific manning requirements existed as stipulated by the RLC Manning Brick.
Army Medical Services (AMS)1. AMS included:
a. The Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC).
b. The Royal Army Veterinary Corps (RAVC).
c. The Royal Army Dental Corps (RADC).
d. Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps (QARANC).
2. Offers would be made to all personnel provided they had:
a. Substantive Cpl to WO1.
b. Class 1 qualification.
c. A minimum SJAR grading of B.
d. Met the general Army criteria.
Adjutant General’s Corps (AGC) Staff & Personnel Support (SPS) Combat human Resources Specialist (CHRS)1. Offers would be made to all personnel provided they had:
a. Substantive Cpl to WO2.
b. Met the general Army criteria.
AGC (SPS) Army Welfare Worker (AWW)1. Offers would be made to all personnel provided they had:
a. Substantive Cpl to WO2.
b. Met the general Army criteria.
AGC (Royal Military Police) (RMP))1. All Staff Sergeants (SSgt’s) pre-selected for promotion to WO2 would be offered a conversion provided they met the general Army criteria.
AGC (MIlitary Provost Staff (MPS))1. Offers would be made to all personnel who successfully completed the Custodial NCO Course and transferred to the MPS.
Royal Army Physical Training Corps (RAPTC) [2]1. Offers would be made to all personnel provided they had:
a. Substantive Sgt to SSgt.
b. Met the general Army criteria.
c. An End of Engagement Date (EED) that was beyond 20 January 2015 and were not on continuance.
2. Offers would also be made to substantive Sgt to SSgt who successfully completed the Class One Physical Training Instructors Course and transferred to the RAPTC.

Notes:

  1. When an individual accepted the offer career managers added an additional two years to the individual’s then current EED. This extended their engagement length to 24 years’ service from their (whichever was later):
    1. 18th birthday; or
    2. Date of attestation.
  2. On 19 June 2017, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) stated that RAPTC personnel could be offered a conversion from an OEng to VEng (Full) (FOI 2017/05609). However, by 20 December 2018, the MOD stated that the AGC (Military Provost Guard Service) and RAPTC “do not utilise the Versatile Engagement.” (FOI 2018/15384).

5.0 Local Service Engagements

Local service is where the individual restricts their service to a particular area within the United Kingdom (UK), known as area of service, although they can volunteer to serve outside of their area of service.

If the individual is required (i.e. not volunteering) to work outside of their area of service, this is restricted to 30 days in any one year. Individuals can also request to change there are of service.

In order to be considered for local service, personnel must be at least 18 years old, and the length of service is three years from the date of enlistment. Service can be extended by a period of three years or until the individual reaches the age of 55.

6.0    Retirement Age

The precise retirement age for an individual is based on:

  • The type of engagement; and
  • Their age on enlistment.

For example:

  • Soldier A joins at age 18 and engages on a VEng (Short) and then subsequently converts to a VEng (Full). Soldier A’s EED would be at age 42.
  • Soldier B joins at age 26 and engages on a VEng (Short) and then subsequently converts to a VEng (Full). Soldier B’s EED would be at age 50.
  • Soldier C joins at age 26 and engages on a VEng (Short), converts to a VEng (Full) and then a VEng (Long). Soldier C’s EED would be at age 55.

Regardless of the type of engagement, the maximum retirement age is 55 (later raised to 60 by a 2014 legislation amendment). In exceptional circumstances an individual may serve until the age of 65.

7.0    Useful Publications

  • Joint Service Publication (JSP):
    • JSP 830: Manual of Service Law. Volume 1, Commanding Officers Guide. Chapter 18, Terms and Conditions of Enlistment and Service.

8.0 References

FOI 2017/01547/13/78302 dated 09 February 2017.

FOI 2017/05609 dated 19 June 2017.

FOI 2018/15384 dated 20 December 2018.

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