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. The selection process involves a number of suitability interviews, an aptitude test to identify training potential, medical and fitness assessments and a residential selection board. For potential soldiers this will include an opportunity to select a Regiment or Corps, as well as a trade to join. Later training is oriented around this choice. Officer candidates will, during the selection process, become sponsored by a Regiment or Corps to undertake training. This sponsor does not undertake to accept the candidate on completion of officer training.

Regular Army[edit]


Candidates for the Army undergo common training to bring all personnel to a similar standard in basic military skills, further specialist training is delivered subject 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 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.

The structure of training is different for soldiers and officers:

Soldier Training[edit]

There are two phases in the training for recruits into the regular army, phase 1 encompasses the Common Military Syllabus (Recruits) (CMSR) and phase 2 delivered by specialisation. CMSR covers the skills needed to survive and operate in a field environment, fitness 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.

Phase 1[edit]

The initial phase features the basic training for all new recruits.

Prospective soldiers attend either one of five training establishments:

Title Name Course length Attendees
Army Foundation College Harrogate 49 wk All Arms Junior Soldier
Army Training Centre Pirbright 14 wk
Army Training Regiment Winchester 23 wk
Infantry Training Centre Catterick 26 wk Infantry Regiments

Phase 1 training is intended to bring all soldiers to a base level of military competency, capable of operating in the field, force protection, operational security and displaying the other characteristics of a member of the British Army. 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 branch of the service they wish to specialise in, and then undergoing the 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
RAC Depot
Royal School of Artillery Larkhill Royal Artillery n/a
School of Army Aviation Middle Wallop Army Air Corps AAC Depot
Royal School of Military Engineering Minley + Chatham Royal Engineers HQ Brompton Barracks
Royal School of Signals Blandford Camp Royal Corps of Signals R.Sigs Depot
School of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering/School of Electrical and Aeronautical Engineering Bordon, Arborfield Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers HQ Arborfield Garrison
Defence Logistic Support Training Group Various Royal Logistic Corps HQ Princess Royal Barracks, Deepcut
Defence Medical Services Training Centre Keogh Barracks Royal Army Medical Corps To close 2010
AGC Training Group Worthy Down Barracks Adjutant General's Corps HQ AGC
Defence College of Policing and Guarding Southwick Park Royal Military Police Joint Service
Royal Military School of Music Kneller Hall Corps of Army Music HQ CAM
Defence Intelligence and Security Centre Chicksands Intelligence Corps HQ Int Corps

Infantry Training Centre[edit]

As of 2001, infantry training is undertaken as a single 26 week course (28 weeks for the parachute regiment, or any of the five guards regiments) at the Infantry Training Centre at Catterick Garrison, as opposed to being divided into Phase 1 and Phase 2 training. The ITC is divided into four separate battalions; these are divided into companies, each of which are responsible for one of the infantry's administrative divisions:

  • 1st Battalion, Infantry Training Centre
    • Queen's Division Company
    • King's Division Company
    • Light Division Company
  • 2nd Battalion, Infantry Training Centre
    • Scottish Division Company
    • Prince of Wales's Division Company
    • Somme Company
  • 3rd Battalion, Infantry Training Centre
    • Guards Division Company
    • Parachute Regiment Company
    • Gurkha Company
    • Gurkha Language Wing
  • 4th Battalion, Infantry Training Centre
    • HQ Company
    • Williams Company
    • Hook Company
    • Army School of Ceremonial
    • Army School of Bagpipe Music & Highland Drums
    • Gym EL Wing

Officer Training[edit]

Direct Entry Officers: Prospective officers first attend the Army Officer Selection Board (AOSB) to determine whether they are suited to become officers. Once they pass AOSB they attend the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, where they undergo basic training, not just in the elements of soldiering, but also in command, leadership and management. The Commissioning Course, which is the standard course for new regular officers, lasts 44 weeks.

There is also a shorter course for Professionally Qualified Officers (i.e. doctors, nurses, lawyers and the clergy) that provide basic military training and lasts for ten weeks. These candidates are usually commissioned as Captains.[1]

The Late Entry Officers Course is for serving soldiers who are chosen for officer training and lasts for four weeks for Regulars and two weeks for Army Reserve.[2]

Army Reserve[edit]


For Army Reserve soldiers, recruit training is structured into two phases: Phase 1, also known as the Common Military Syllabus (Recruit) (CMS(R)) Course, and Phase 2, special-to-arm training.[3]

Phase 1

In Phase 1, recruits cover the Common Military Syllabus 14 (CMS14) Part 'a' is a series of 4 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 two week training course (Phase 1b) normally held at an Army Training Regiment,[4] Infantry recruits then do their Phase 2 Training at Catterick.[5] Recruits to the 4th Battalion, The Parachute Regiment[6] and the Honourable Artillery Company[7] complete their equivalent of CMS(R) within their own units.

Phase 2

Phase 1 is followed by Phase 2, 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.[5]


To gain a commission, Potential Officers have to complete three qualifying modules of training before attending the Army Reserve Commissioning Course (ARCC) at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.

Module 1 is the same as the Common Military Syllabus (Recruit) course. As many Officers initially serve a period of time as Soldiers, this module is only undertaken by the minority that join the Army Reserve directly as Potential Officers under the Direct Entry Reserve Potential Officer (DEResPO) scheme. Dedicated Module 1 courses are run by Officer Training Corps for their recruits over the course of a year or consolidated into 10 days.

Module 2 covers training in Tactics, Leadership, Doctrine and Navigation, both in theory and in practice, and a further series of selection and aptitude tests are undertaken, usually spread over 10 weekends. This also includes passing The Army Officer Selection Board Briefing and Main Board, after which Potential Officers are formally designated as Officer Cadets. Module 2 courses are run by both Army Training Units and Officer Training Corps over the course of a year or consolidated into 2 weeks.

Module 3 applies the theory taught in Module 2 into a 9 day Battle Camp. Module 3 courses are run by Army Training Units and Officer Training Corps around the UK.

Module 4. Passing the AOSB and Module 3 then enables Officer Cadets to attend an intensive three week assessment at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, which forms the Army Reserve Commissioning Course (ARCC) or Module 4.

On successful completion of Module 4, 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:

Module 5. Post Commissioning Training - again run at an ATU or OTC, over 3 weekends.

Special To Arm training is specific to the type of unit the Subaltern is joining, for example, the 2 week Platoon Commander's Battle Course held at the Infantry Battle School in Brecon.


  1. ^ Professional Qualified Officers
  2. ^ Late Entry Officers Course
  3. ^ "TArmy Reserve Training". British Army. 
  4. ^ "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. 
  5. ^ a b "TA Recruit Training Structure & Overview". Ministry of Defence. 
  6. ^ "Phase One: The Build Up". 4th Battalion, The Parachute Regiment. 
  7. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions". HAC. 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]