Selection and Training in the British Army

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Selection and training in the British Army is the process by which candidates for service are identified, inducted and brought onto the trained strength. The process is the responsibility of the Adjutant General, the personnel director for the Army based at Trenchard Lines in Wiltshire.


Candidates for all three of the British Armed Forces are first handled through Armed Forces Career Offices, which are located in major conurbations around the United Kingdom supporting the respective recruitment functions. Candidates for enlistment may be aged between 15 years, 7 months (for enlistment from age 16) and 32.[1] Candidates for officer entry may be aged between 18 and 29.[1]

Regular Army training[edit]

Candidates for the Army undergo common training, beginning with initial military training, to bring all personnel to a similar standard in basic military skills, and further specialist training is delivered according to the Regiment or Corps for which the individual has been identified as a candidate. Completion of Phase 2 training brings the individual onto the trained strength; however, each of the British Armed Forces will continue to deliver specialist and generalist training throughout the individual's career.

Much training in the British Armed Forces has been accredited by various awarding bodies, resulting in the opportunity to gain civilian qualifications through service training activities.

Phase 1[edit]

Phase 1 training features basic training for all new recruits. For other ranks, this is the Common Military Syllabus (Recruits) (CMSR). CMSR covers the skills and fitness needed to survive and operate in a field environment, and seeks to imbue the ethos and principles of the British Army. The trainee is required to demonstrate competence in thirteen training objectives over the fourteen-week course. Officers undertake the Commissioning Course, which covers the basic aspects of soldiering as well as command, leadership and management. The standard course for new Direct Entry Officers lasts 44 weeks. Professionally qualified officers (those that have joined the army having already gained a professional qualification, such as doctors, lawyers or chaplains) undergo a shorter, ten-week course.[2] The Late Entry Officers Course is a four-week course for already serving soldiers that have been chosen for commissioning as officers.[3]

There are five training establishments for Phase 1 training in the Regular Army:

Title Name Course length Attendees
Royal Military Academy Sandhurst Sandhurst 44 wk All Arms Direct Entry Officers
10 wk Professionally Qualified Officers
4 wk Late Entry Officers
Other Ranks
Army Foundation College Harrogate 49 wk (ages 16–17½)
23 wk (ages 16–17½) for those joining courses with longer Phase 2 training – these are:
Army Training Centre Pirbright 14 wk
Army Training Regiment Winchester 14 wk
Infantry Training Centre Catterick 26 wk Infantry Regiments

Phase 1 training is intended to bring all recruits to a base level of military competency, capable of operating in the field, providing force protection, operational security and displaying the other characteristics of a member of the British Army. For officers, this also includes the professional competencies required for command. During this period, recruits pass in and receive their regimental berets; they then pass out and continue to phase 2 to undergo job training. The training embeds the core values:

  • Courage
  • Discipline
  • Respect for others
  • Integrity
  • Loyalty
  • Selfless commitment

Phase 2[edit]

The second phase involves the new officer or soldier training for the branch of the service they wish to specialise in, and then undergoing specific training. This is with one of the specialist schools located around the country:

Name Location Arm Comments
Infantry Training Centre Catterick Infantry Combined Phase 1 and 2
Armour Centre Bovington Camp Royal Armoured Corps
Household Cavalry
Royal School of Artillery Larkhill Royal Artillery
Army Aviation Centre Middle Wallop Army Air Corps
Royal School of Military Engineering Chatham[Minley] Royal Engineers Combat Engineer Training at Minley Trade Training at Chatham
Royal School of Signals Blandford Camp Royal Corps of Signals
Defence School of Electronic and Mechanical Engineering Lyneham Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers
Defence College of Logistics various Royal Logistic Corps
Defence Medical Services Training Centre Whittington Barracks Royal Army Medical Corps
Defence School of Personnel Administration Worthy Down Barracks Adjutant General's Corps
Defence School of Policing and Guarding Southwick Park Royal Military Police
Royal Military School of Music Kneller Hall Corps of Army Music
Joint Intelligence Training Group Chicksands Intelligence Corps

Infantry Training Centre[edit]

Since 2001, infantry training for other ranks is undertaken as a single 26-week course (28 weeks for the Parachute Regiment and Foot Guards) at the Infantry Training Centre at Catterick Garrison, as opposed to being divided into Phase 1 and Phase 2 training.

Army Reserve training[edit]


For Army Reserve soldiers, recruit training is in two phases: Phase 1, also known as the Common Military Syllabus (Reserve) (CMS(R)) Course, and Phase 2, special-to-arm training.[4]

Phase 1

In Phase 1, recruits cover the Common Military Syllabus 14 (CMS14). Part 'a' is a series of four training weekends at Army Training Units (ATUs), formerly known as Regional Training Centres (RTCs). At some ATUs the Phase 1a is also run as a consolidated course. For all Army Reserve soldiers, Phase 1 concludes with a fifteen day training course (Phase 1b) normally held at an Army Training Regiment;[5] infantry recruits then undertake their Phase 2 training at Catterick.[6] Recruits to the 4th Battalion, The Parachute Regiment[7] and the Honourable Artillery Company[8] complete their equivalent of CMS(R) within their own units.

Phase 2

Phase 2 is a further period of special-to-arm training specific to the type of unit the recruit is joining. This is normally conducted by the Arm or Service that the recruit is joining, for example for infantry units, Phase 2 consists of the two-week Combat Infantryman's Course (Reserve) (CIC (Res)) held at the Infantry Training Centre, Catterick.[6]


To gain a commission, potential officers have to pass through four modules of training, which together form the Army Reserve Commissioning Course.

Module A consists of basic field training and elementary military skills. This can be completed at either a UOTC over a number of weekends, or over two weeks at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS).

Module B covers training in Tactics, Leadership, Doctrine and Navigation, both in theory and in practice, with a focus on the section battle drills and the platoon combat estimate. This training can either be spread over ten weekends at a UOTC, or two weeks at the RMAS.

Module C builds on the Tactics, Leadership, Doctrine and Navigation taught in Module B, with a greater focus on the theory behind these constructs. CBRN training is also added at this point, and Officer Cadets undergo a number of field exercises to test their military and leadership skills. Module C can only be undertaken at the RMAS.

Module D: once the Officer Cadet has completed their Army Officer Selection Board, they can complete this final module, after which they will become commissioned officers in the British Army. Based at the RMAS, this module consists primarily of a prolonged field exercise, followed by drill training in preparation for the passing out parade.

On successful completion of Module D, the Officer Cadets receive their Commission and become Second Lieutenants. Further training that is required prior to them being considered for operational deployment and promotion to Lieutenant includes:

Post Commissioning Training (formerly known as Module 5), again run at an OTC, over three weekends.

Special To Arm training is specific to the type of unit the subaltern is joining, and covers a two-week period. This is increasingly integrated with the tactics phase of a Regular training course. For example, the Platoon Commander's Battle Course held at the Infantry Battle School in Brecon, which is integrated with Regular training, or the Yeomanry Tactics Course held at the Land Warfare Centre in Warminster, which is not.


  1. ^ a b "Age - British Army". Retrieved 2017-12-04.
  2. ^ Professional Qualified Officers Archived 2009-11-13 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Late Entry Officers Course Archived 2013-01-28 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "Army Reserve Training". British Army.
  5. ^ "MPS Volunteers". MoD. Basic Military Training If you have no military experience then your training will be delivered alongside those pursuing other Territorial Army careers at a centralised location away from Colchester. This training is delivered in 2 parts; Trained Soldier Course (TSC), A & B. This might take you a year to complete, the TSC (A) is 6 weekends, and the TSC (B) is 2 weeks.
  6. ^ a b "TA Recruit Training Structure & Overview". Ministry of Defence. Archived from the original on 2008-12-16.
  7. ^ "Phase One: The Build Up". 4th Battalion, The Parachute Regiment. Archived from the original on 2011-10-05.
  8. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions". HAC. Archived from the original on 2008-06-05. Retrieved 2008-06-02. The HAC runs two Recruits' courses each year, beginning in February/March and September/October. The Recruits course lasts six months and involves training each Tuesday evening, roughly one weekend a month and a ten-day final assessment.

External links[edit]