Advice on career path

Discussion in 'Joining Up - Royal Navy Recruiting' started by PreGSP, Jun 17, 2016.

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  1. Alright lads,

    Just to warn you all before you invest your time in reading my squabble – this is a typical newbie-question on joining the Royal Marines or the Royal Navy. I have, however, been trawling these forums for years now, finding the answers to most of my questions (making this the first time I have posted) – so first of all thank you for your contributions and second, if you’re able to point me to a similar thread then please do so. All I’m looking for here is some general advice from some guys who understand the environment I’m looking in to, and possibly who’ve been through the same, as I don’t have anyone in my life who I can look to in order to do so.

    Basically, I’ve been after a career in the forces for years now. Rather than waffle on, I’ll give you the shorthand of my journey thus far (which is one that appears to be rather typical in these types of questions in these forums – but I digress);

    - Initially, I was going to apply to join at 16 as a Potential Royal Marines Commando, but after being told ‘don’t bother applying as a Commando – always go for Officer’ I decided to broaden the options available to me and do my A-levels.

    - Upon completion of my A-levels I went to apply again, but was informed I didn’t have enough ‘life experience’, and so went on to University.

    - I hated university, and after a year in industry (working within a law firm) I found I hated the 9-5 life even more.

    - Went to begin my application process but got told I wasn’t ‘big enough’ to be a potential Royal Marines Officer (I’m 5’8 and was 65kgs at the time) – which I can understand, as they are some big boys, but mind over matter, right?

    - After half-heartedly handing me some leaflets on the Royal Marines, my local AFCO pushed me into completing my Degree (to which I am grateful) and thinking about applying for the role as a Warfare Officer in the Royal Navy instead - stating ‘I’d have more of a chance there’

    - Went in to start my application process early for the role as a Warfare Officer and was told I didn’t have A-levels that were of the desirable calibre to apply – resulting in a withdrawal of my application (even after pointing out that if I was studying a degree, would this not ‘cancel out’ my A-levels?)

    - Currently re-sitting my A-levels upon the advice of my local AFCO in order to bump these up to the necessary standard (despite the fact I now have said degree)

    As I now come to the close of my exams, I have begun to ponder the thought of my chosen career path in the forces. Do I really want to settle for something different than what I set my mind to? Warfare Officer is a fantastic role with amazing opportunities available, but whenever I think about it, my mind falls on the ‘what if?’ element... I guess, apart from the use of this post in order to ease my mind-set and put my thoughts on paper (or screen...), my question to you all is this; I have long set my mind on being a potential Royal Marine Officer, but after being pushed back twice now and being told I am ‘too small’, I begin to wonder if I am just kidding myself and wasting my time doing so. Would ‘settling’ for another role in the Royal Navy be a waste of time? I wouldn’t complain with the role as Warfare Officer, I’d still get travel, management training and the possibility of commanding a ship one day – but I think I’d regret it. On the other hand, however, being scoffed at in the AFCO due to my career desires and physical build doesn’t fill me with a whole lot of confidence should I choose to apply for the role as Officer! (I must point out – yes, I was physically fit enough, and for some reason it was much to the disappointment of the gentleman in the AFCO)

    Overall, I’d just like some man-to-man (or woman-to-man, I won’t be sexist!) advice on what to do in my situation here. Are those in the know exactly that - in the know and right about me considering a different career in the forces? Or should I sod them all and go for it anyway? Would I even be allowed to?

    Thanks for taking the time to answer here, guys. I’ll take all the sarcastic comments on the forum for one comment of honest advice – as a young guy I just need some help with those that have life experience, and as I say I don’t have the option of acquiring that at my disposal.

    Thank you in advance, I appreciate it.
  2. Perhaps you need to remind your detractors that a certain sailor name of Nelson was a stumpy little geezer.
    Seemed to do alright for himself though!
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  3. Ninja_Stoker

    Ninja_Stoker War Hero Moderator

    Smallest serviceman I ever came across was a Royal Marine who had just passed selection for the SBS.

    He was on loan at my AFCO at the time and I took him together with a loan RN CIS, aptly nick-named "Hightower", (who was 6' 8") to a local careers convention.

    A young girl came to our career stand, slight in stature, and asked in all innocence "Are their any height restrictions?"

    Before I could stop him, my 'fun-sized' Royal buddy snapped: "Does it f****** look like it?" Fortunately, she laughed when she stood back and looked at the two lads stood side by side ;)

    My advice? If you are over age 21 and barely 65Kgs, then the odds are against you unless you successfully manage the fine balancing act of conducting "Op Massive" whilst maintaining CV fitness prior to joining.

    For Royal Marines, about 40% of those we recruit as Other Ranks are academically qualified to join as an Officer. We frequently recruit graduates as Other Ranks - in fact one troop of Royal Marine Other Ranks 17 out of 55 had a degree. To be an RM Officer, you need to be pretty good - not that you don't need to be half decent to join as a Warfare Officer either.

    At the other end of the scale, a few years back we had a RM Corporal working in my AFCO, he was a parachute trained Recce Troop Sniper, festooned in tattoos and badges that indicated he was probably good at killing people. The guy was mahoosive, about 6 foot 7, and had to turn sideways to get his shoulders through the door.

    Frequently we would see a 15 year-old lad, (5 foot 1.5 inches, 64.5 Kgs wet-through) walk through the door into the AFCO and begin to say "I want to join the Royal Ma........". You would see his jaw drop as he clocked this beast of a bloke, chained to the desk, gnawing his way through it: "om nom, nom, nom" and then look up quizzically at his next meal. You'd see the enquirers eyes widen: "erm, I mean RAF...." he would squeak in a high-pitched croak, turning a sharp right, scurrying to another recruiting desk.

    Lympstone can be like that sometimes.

    Bottom line is if you want to be a Royal Marines Officer over all else and comfortably meet the entry criteria, then it is your shout.

    Good luck.
    • Like Like x 3
  4. I know plenty of small, skinny Bootneck Officers. The HERRICK years produced a tendency to men who were "massive" in order to cope with their significant load, but we're seeing a return to the "racing snake" stereotype. If nothing else, yomping 30 miles with an extra 40kg of muscle is just bloody hard work
    • Like Like x 1
  5. oh, and no matter your size, my friendly bootneck neighbour says "concentrate on strengthening your posterior chain".
    • Informative Informative x 1
  6. Ninja_Stoker

    Ninja_Stoker War Hero Moderator

    About a decade back, the minimum weight for entry for RM was 60Kgs but it was increased to 65Kgs, regardless of the height/weight bmi scale, as there was a direct correlation with Recruit Training fails in the load carrying elements of training with recruits weighing less than 65Kgs.

    The are some bizarre sounding reasons behind some selection reasons. One of which was think link between a low recruit test mechanical comprehension score (less than 10/30) and a VO2 max score below level 10.5 which was statistically proven to show there was only a one in eight chance of successfully completing recruit training. This led to an increase of the VO2 pass/fail level on PRMC and the introduction of a pass/fail mark in the mechanical comprehension section of the recruit test for Other Ranks. The pass rate in recruit training increased to about 50%.

    Strange but true.
    • Informative Informative x 1
  7. I must say, after years of browsing through these forums, I’m slightly in awe of receiving responses from all you gents! Ninja_Stoker you have been a fountain of knowledge to many, so it’s a pleasure to hear from you on this topic.

    Slim, I’ve heard of the Nelson comparison, yes! I also felt the need to almost verbally express the size of our country in comparison to others throughout history – yet we still managed to do alright! I chose against this, however, feeling it might work against me (either that or I’d be labelled more like the size of Ireland in comparison…)

    Ninja_Stoker, sounds like you’ve had quite the opposite ends of the scale there! That tattooed bloke sounds like you’d rather have him on your side, best make sure I keep his cup of tea in the right order.

    It’s interesting to read your information about the correlation of weight/test scores, I wondered where they’d got the selection criteria from (as I’m aware all other Naval roles don’t have a minimum weight, just assumed it was to do with not freezing to death whilst on exercise), but it’s interesting to hear more!

    Alfred_the_great, I thought the larger size would be in line with the ability to carry greater load, but I often hear from others that Royal Marines are often of shorter stature – making me wonder why size plays a great part in being an issue for me at the AFCO. I appreciate the tip, however. I’ll focus on that posterior chain – thank you!

    Overall gents, thank you for taking the time out of your day to respond to my post – I highly appreciate it! The biggest concern with the whole situation appears to be my size, however I do feel comfortable carrying weight on my back due to preparing myself for this role in the first place – so that does not seem to be an issue for me. I think, moreover, it is the perception part that comes in to play when others look at me for ‘officer material’. For example, can you really see a short-arse bossing around a 6’1 Marine? I think it shouldn’t matter (funnily enough!), but others seem to be bothered about ‘the look’ more than the man. I’m not sure though, that’s just what I’m under the impression of so far!

    I think it’s much for me to mull over. I feel Officer would provide me with opportunities I would not otherwise have at my disposal should I apply for Commando, but if my only Officer option is to apply through the Warfare branch, can I accept the fact I would never achieve my Green Lid? My gut wrenches at the thought of watching others become Marines and go forth, but my mind tells me the more sensible move career wise is Warfare Officer… Funny thoughts these.

    Quick question for you all, also, what’s the perception of Warfare Officers on board? I see a lot of stick!

    Again, thanks for your input guys, it means a lot!
  8. Ninja_Stoker

    Ninja_Stoker War Hero Moderator

    As @alfred_the_great is/was one, I guess it would be imprudent to say anything negative. They have a gash sense of humour :)
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  9. Chief Stoker - my cabin!
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    • Funny Funny x 2
  10. @PreGSP

    I'm not sure if this will help with your conundrum but in 2013 I went down to the careers office and picked up booklets for Warfare Officer and Royal Marines Officer. For the next couple of weeks I pondered my choice and decided that, although I really wanted to be a Royal Marines Officer, I would never be able to reach those fitness levels and that I was more 'suitable' for Warfare Officer.

    A couple of months later I sat my psychometric test and subsequently failed for Officer entry. I then made a snap decision to join the RNR in order to gain some 'experience' for when I was eligible to apply again. After getting through the rest of the recruitment process and getting to a RNR unit I realised what a bad decision I'd made. There is nothing wrong with the RNR or the Navy but I found myself in a position where I realsied that by not believing in myself I made a really bad choice. Last year I made a big step and applied for Royal Marines OR entry (I was too old for Officer entry).

    Fast forward through a year or so (and lots of phys) at my second attempt I passed my PRMC on Friday and start training in September/October.

    If you even have a slight feeling that you want to be a Marine then for heavens sake go for it and don't fail yourself before you've even started. If anything getting ready for the PJFT and then POC will tell you if you really want it. You can change physically to be suitable- I lost around 15kg to slim down (even though I'm still not that slim!)
    • Like Like x 3
  11. Don't worry about having to take charge of booties taller than you. I've served with many "height challenged" officers. One is now an Admiral, who earned the nickname (behind his back) "the four foot fun bosun", due to his height and lack of a sense of humour.
  12. Ninja_Stoker

    Ninja_Stoker War Hero Moderator

    Warfare? :)

    Not so long ago I was at a large meeting and halfway through, the senior officer bimbles in. The guy chairing the meeting announces "Ladies and Gentlemen, I'd like to introduce you to our Senior Officer......". The senior officer, a submariner, presumably read the script wrong about the requirements to serve on midget submarines. He was just over five-foot tall and full of snarling ego...until, an anonymous voice from the back shouted "Stand-up Lofty".
  13. Yep, warfare:)
  14. Ah, Warfare Officers - the branch everyone loves to hate (including Warfare Officers).

    What are the positives - you get lots of responsibility, early; you go to sea; you can Command; you are the branch (alongside your Ratings) that turn a ship into a Warship.

    What are the negatives - there is nowhere to hide on a bridge or in an Ops Room; you go to sea, lots; feedback can be pretty blunt; everyone wants more pay than you, and can point to civvy jobs as a direct comparison.

    The easiest way to think about it is that as an Officer of the Watch, you have no Senior Rates you can turn to to ask a question before having to answer to the CO or XO. As a DWEO, when the WEO asked me a question, I could scurry away and ask either my Charge Chiefs or Chief 'Tifs before going back to the WEO. More to the point, my Senior Rates had almost inevitably done it for themselves, so could tell me how to avoid the pitfalls and common mistakes.

    There are very very few Senior Rates who've ever been an Officer of the Watch, let alone on a Frigate or Destroyer. You make all of your mistakes in the public eye, and with your boss (and his boss) watching. You are also the public face of criticism from everyone else on-board who simply want to bitch about something: uncomfy course in rough seas - blame the OOW; can't get satellite TV reception - blame the OOW; something not piped on time - blame the OOW.

    To be able to not only survive all that, but to thrive, requires a certain bloody-mindedness and intellectual capacity. You also need to have the character to stand up in front of those more experienced and say "no, I'm in charge, this is what we are doing" and then execute the correct course of action. If you master that as an OOW, you then get to do it as a PWO, where, having spent 2 - 8 years getting comfy on the bridge, you are suddenly put down the Ops Room, and not only do have to take charge of your Ops Room, you must also take charge of a task group of other Ships, Helicopters, Aircraft and sometimes Submarines. You must fight the ship on behalf of the CO and make split second decisions that could result in the death of sailors, or the enemy.

    I love my job. It's hard, it's annoying and it's been bloody tough, but it's mainly been worth it.

    However, I can't deny I spent most of the HERRICK years looking for a way to get off a ship and into a PB in Helmand. If you are undecided between life as an Infanteer and being a Warfare Officer, I suggest you do the following: get a POC visit to a ship; get a POC visit to CTCRM and book a Fam visit to an Infantry regiment. More so than any other thing, you must be comfy in the environment you want to work. If you walk onto a bridge and immediately "not so much", or into an Infantry Mess and think "who are these odd pricks?", then your decision is kind of made for you...
    • Informative Informative x 1
  15. Ninja_Stoker

    Ninja_Stoker War Hero Moderator

    Excellent insight.

    I'd never thought of the fact a Warfare Officer doesn't have the benefit of a 'technical team' in support of their decision making.

    Hopefully the OP has gained a much clearer picture.
  16. When it comes to things you feel strongly about:

    Never, ever leave yourself with anything to regret. If you try and fail, so be it. If you don't even try, it will live with you forever and you'll have to find a way to deal with that. Once you start something, you're half way there. The second half is always easier than the first right?

    Good luck.
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  17. Every Royal Marine knows that his troop commander had to achieve a higher standard at Lympstone than him. They all know how difficult it was to get their Green Beret and they all know it was even more difficult for the bloke with a pip or two on his shoulders and, no matter how much they might joke, you never need to 'boss' Bootnecks around. They're a proud bunch who will do things not just because they have to but because they respect the Corps and they would respect the fact that you're a Green Lidded officer, no matter how tall. And if it all fails, you just get your Colour Sergeant to sort them out. I tower over my old man but I wouldn't have screwed with him and still wouldn't ;)

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