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, 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 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.[1] The Late Entry Officers Course is a four-week course for already serving soldiers that have been chosen for commissioning as officers.[2]

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 All Arms Junior Soldier (ages 16–17½)
Army Training Regiment 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 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
Royal School of Artillery Larkhill Royal Artillery
Army Aviation Centre Middle Wallop Army Air Corps
Royal School of Military Engineering Chatham Royal Engineers
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 College 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]

As of 2001, infantry training for other ranks 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 Infantry Training Battalion is responsible for training soldiers destined to join the regiments of the Queen's Division, Prince of Wales' Division, the Royal Irish Regiment and The Rifles, King's Division and the Royal Regiment of Scotland. The 1st Battalion has five training companies:[3]
    • Queen's Division Company
    • Prince of Wales's Division Company
    • Rifles Training Company
    • King's Division Company
    • Royal Regiment of Scotland Training Company
  • 2nd Infantry Training Battalion has responsibility for training recruits who will join one of the regiments of the Guards Division, the Parachute Regiment and the Brigade of Gurkhas. 2 ITB is also responsible for the Phase 2 training for junior entry recruits from the Army Foundation College, as well as training for the infantry elements of the Army Reserve.[4]
    • Guards Training Company
    • Parachute Regiment Training Company
    • Gurkha Training Company
    • Anzio Company
  • The ITC Support Battalion is the ITC's primary support unit, dealing with logistic and medical support. The battalion is structured to provide maximum support throughout the ITC and consists of the following departments:[5]
    • Headquarter (HQ) Company
    • Hook VC Company (discharged soldiers)
    • Gym
    • Army School of Ceremonial
    • Army School of Bagpipe Music and Highland Drumming
    • Quartermaster's (QMs) Department
    • G7 Training
    • 400 Troop, Royal Logistic Corps

Further infantry training, as well as Phase 2 training for new infantry officers, is undertaken at the Infantry Battle School and the Specialist Weapons School.

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.[6]

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,[7] Infantry recruits then do their Phase 2 Training at Catterick.[8] Recruits to the 4th Battalion, The Parachute Regiment[9] and the Honourable Artillery Company[10] 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.[8]


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 2 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 10 weekends at a UOTC, or 2 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 3 weekends.

Special To Arm training is specific to the type of unit the Subaltern is joining, and covers a 2-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. ^ Professional Qualified Officers
  2. ^ Late Entry Officers Course
  3. ^ "1st Infantry Training Battalion". Retrieved 21 April 2014. 
  4. ^ "2nd Infantry Training Battalion". Retrieved 21 April 2014. 
  5. ^ "ITC Support Battalion". Retrieved 21 April 2014. 
  6. ^ "TArmy Reserve Training". British Army. 
  7. ^ "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. 
  8. ^ a b "TA Recruit Training Structure & Overview". Ministry of Defence. 
  9. ^ "Phase One: The Build Up". 4th Battalion, The Parachute Regiment. 
  10. ^ "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. 

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