A Brief Overview of British Army Officer Selection and Training

Introduction

This article provides a brief outline of the British Army’s officer selection and training process, as at November 2022.

Initial Interest and Local Recruitment Centre

Army Officer recruitment is undertaken in partnership with Capita. Once an Individual has registered their initial interest, Officer selection begins with a formal interview at a local recruitment centre.

Medical Assessment

Potential Recruits are required to attend a medical assessment prior to progressing any further.

Successful Officer candidates are required to attend a two-day Army Officer Selection Board (AOSB) briefing course.

AOSB Briefing Course

All Potential Officer (PO) recruits are provided with feedback and awarded a Category (Cat) relating to their performance.

  • Cat 1 classifies the individual as a credible candidate for Main Board. The candidate is given advice and feedback on their strengths and weaknesses in order to assist them to prepare for the Main board.
  • Cat 2 is a delay for either 3, 6, 12 or 24 months for development in one or more areas.
  • Cat 3 classifies a candidate with one or more major areas of development where the board feel the candidate would find the Main board a significant challenge.
  • Cat 4 classifies a candidate who the board believe is currently unsuitable to attend Main Board. Candidates may appeal citing a development plan to overcome their shortfalls.

AOSB Main Board

The final stage for most recruits will be AOSB Main Board.

This is a three-and-a-half-day selection event, which assesses physical, intellectual, practical and personality traits to determine if the individual has the potential required of an Army Officer.

Successful POs are granted a pass to attend the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS), which is valid for five years, and those who are unsuccessful may attend AOSB Main board one final time.

Individuals who are considered a ‘risk pass’ may be required to attend and complete the Potential Officer Development Programme (PODP) prior to attending the Commissioning Course (CC). AOSB identifies areas of risk in their performance, this is shared with the Army School of Education (ASE), who deliver the PODP, in Worthy Down, Hampshire.

Potential Officer Development Programme

The Potential Officer Development Programme (PODP) is a 12-week residential course which includes individuals who have been selected by AOSB (Pre-RMAS (PRAMs)), as well as soldiers who are aiming to commission from Regular soldier service prior to attending AOSB main board.

Pre-RMAS

The Pre-Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (Pre-RMAS), commonly known simply as PRAMS, is a course designed to develop the potential of candidates deemed uncultured or character risks before they attend RMAS. The course is held at the Army School of Education, Worthy Down, Hampshire and lasts for 11 weeks.

Commissioning Course

The commissioning course (CC) is one of a number of courses (see below) held at the RMAS, Camberley, Surrey. The purpose of the course is to train all Officer Cadets in basic soldiering and leadership before joining their elected Regiments or Corps. The Regular CC is a 44 week long programme consisting of three 14 week terms, named Juniors, Intermediate and Seniors terms.

  • The Junior term focuses on the basics of military skills, fitness and decision making.
    • The first 14-week term at RMAS is a transitionary period, the training is devoted to basic military skills, fitness and decision making. The majority of instruction in the first term is undertaken by Platoon Colour Sergeants.
    • The pace of life is busy and Officer Cadets are required to adapt to a military regime which may be a shock to some.
    • During the first term Officer Cadets attend a Regimental visit, the main purpose of this is to inform the Officer Cadets of the various roles within the Army, allowing the unit staff to get to meet the POs and the Officer Cadets get a feel of the Regiment/Corps.
      • It also gives the Officer Cadets an opportunity to talk to soldiers and young Officers who are currently serving in different parts of the Army.
      • Although there is not a selection element at this stage, it can cause self-induced pressure on the Officer Cadets, who are, in essence having an informal discussion about future employment.
  • The Intermediate term develops command and conceptual thinking with the aim to develop professional, robust combat leaders.
    • During this term, Officer Cadets undergo a selection procedure for their future Corps or Regiment.
    • Officer Cadets will undertake Exercise Normandy Scholar (Ex NS) during week 9 of the intermediate term.
    • The exercise is a 2-day battlefield study allowing officer cadets to apply the combat estimate in a historical context.
  • The final, Senior term enables Officer Cadets to practice their new military and Leadership skills through a series of complex and demanding training exercises in the UK and overseas.
    • The focus of this term is on developing professional, agile thinking, ethical and robust leaders, who, with further preemployment training, can take up their first Leadership position.
    • Each company also plans and organises a Charity Ball. The aim of the Ball is to enable Officer Cadets to gain experience planning a social event and raise money for charity, with members of the wider Academy staff invited.

The RMAS timetable comprises of three Regular CC intakes throughout the year:

  • January and May intakes generally consist of 2 Company’s equating to approximately 180 Officer Cadets per intake.
  • The September intake is often larger and comprises of up to 3 Company’s, equating to approximately 270 Officer Cadets.

Each Company is Commanded by a Major and is made up of three Platoons. Each Platoon is Commanded by a Platoon Commander who is normally a Captain assisted by a Colour Sergeant (CSgt) or Staff Sergeant (SSgt).

In addition, RMAS run:

  • The SNCO Selection Cadre;
  • Lucknow Platoon (ongoing Rehabilitation Pl);
  • The Late Entry Officers’ Course (9 courses annually);
  • Commissioning Course Short for the Reserves and Professionally Qualified Officers (3 courses annually); and
  • The Leaders Development Course (3 annually).

Regimental Selection and Visits

During the first six weeks of the Junior term, Officer Cadets submit an expression of interest of the Regiments they are proposing to apply for at the Regimental Selection Board (RSB) process, which occurs in the Intermediate term.

Throughout the CC there are several events hosted by the Regiments and Corps to gain an understanding of the unit roles and what a posting as a Platoon Commander would involve. A familiarisation visit is conducted in the Junior term and another in the intermediate term.

Typically conducted over two days, the Regiments host the Officer Cadets, who have the opportunity to discuss their future role with Soldiers and view demonstrations of the unit activity. There is usually an evening social event during the visit. Permanent staff at RMAS are often Regimental representatives and can provide advice and guidance about the future roles for young Officers in their Regiments or Corps. The RSBs occur during the final weeks of the Intermediate term. Officer Cadets are normally interviewed by at least two Regiments that they have selected, ideally they are offered a Commission with one of them.

Officer Cadets who are not selected by either of their Regiments enter a clearing process which allocates them to a unit best suited to them.

  • The RSBs consist of 2 interview Panels with senior Officers from the Regiments/Corps the Officer Cadets aspire to join.
  • The Officer Cadets choose 2 (or very occasionally 3) Regiments/Corps they wish to join, with guidance from their chain of command (CoC) and usually after visiting the unit.
  • The interview Panel receive a report on the Officer Cadet based on their performance on the CC.
  • An Officer Cadet may be offered a place in one or two Regiments/Corps (in which case they choose).
  • If they are not offered either Regiment/Corps they go through a clearing process to ensure everyone finds a unit that they are suitable for.
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