Average time for promotion in RNR



Hi folks,

I had a lad asking about promotion the other night and apparently its six years min before being put forward for LH then another six for PO. Is that right?

Not sure about LH to PO, but for AB to LH there's no minimum as such, it just takes a while as a reservist to get the ticks in the boxes. 6 years might be about right as an average, but you could do it quicker.
It's much more about how much time you can put into the courses. 2 x 2 weeks are required for basic training, so if you can dedicate 2 weeks a year, that's 2 years, then to get the required courses for eligibility for promotion is about 4 x 2 weeks, so if you can dedicate 4 weeks a year, then including basic training, you could get on the signal for Leading hand within 3 to 4 years! Typically, the reqd courses to be eligible for selection to PO are about 3 x2 weeks. There is a minimum time you have to spend in at AB1 and LH, and I think that's about 18 months. It's all to do with ability AND time available to do courses!


War Hero
And SR without wishing to sound cynical, but its also about the ability of unit staff to adequately write their people up in the best possible way to give them a shot at promotion?
It's a perpetual problem in the RNR; assigning one divisional officer for any one rating is part of the system that really doesn't bolt-on to the RNR. Some units play a different system in which you'll have a selection of officers to write your report, which massively jacks up your chances, and I have seen systems where, come report time, someone who at the time is in unit a lot is pinged to do them. Now that I think about it, I've also seen ratings who want a report written simply going to an officer they know and asking said officer to do it.
In some units, no more than 6 ratings are in a division, and that division is all the same spec. There is then one or 2 divisions of the same spec, that report to a HOD. It is the HOD that gets well and truly roasted if it looks like reports are not up to scratch, or not completed early enough. That same HOD's ability to manage 20 people, with 3 Divisional Officers' to support him/her, will be a major factor of the HOD's report. And guess what, late or poor ratings reports = a non-promotion report for the HOD. Gets them kinda motivated to ensure basic Divisional officer-man-ship works. :)
And guess what, late or poor ratings reports = a non-promotion report for the HOD. Gets them kinda motivated to ensure basic Divisional officer-man-ship works. :)
I'm not convinced. If you reach LtCdr in the RNR, which is about the level I'd expect a HOD to be, many of them have no expectation (or desire) to ever make Cdr. For a lot of the RNR, progression through the ranks really isn't the driving force it is elsewhere. :)

Anyway, perhaps a little counter-intuitively, it's surely a bad thing for a unit to have so much sway on who gets promoted or advanced? Being promoted for being helpful to the unit is a throwback to the bad old days when the RNR was a self-licking lollipop; in this modern era, the RN knows what it wants from a given rank/rate in a given branch, and being helpful to their RNR unit is definitely far outweighed by being able to do the job the RN has in mind for them come mobilisation. If it wouldn't be so prone to going horribly wrong, the unit would do no more than provide an insert slip and promotion reports would be the responsibility of the branch, who do actually know what the subject is meant to be good at.
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I know of no such rule about time limits on promotion. In my experience it tends to be based on qualifications first, experience and report writing second.

I know guy's who've done both promotions in much less time because they've got their quals and experience quicker. It doesn't make them better at their job because I tend to find that those who rush to get promotion tend to be those least deserving of it.
AftG you raise a number of valid points.
1. HODs at Lt Cdr - perhaps where the HOD is an aspiring Lt, who wants that half stripe, this gives the zest and zeal reqd to ensure Divisional officermanship is addressed.
2. Branch vs Unit for reports. Sadly the branches are not staffed to enable them to take on the full responsibility of producing (within JPAR) the promotion report. However the unit should be. Perhaps the way ahead is for the HOD and Branch SO2 to discuss attributes of the candidates (and to be fare, at the AB1 level, even the largest branch only has 20 or so candidates nationwide - so not an impossible task). Thus the candidates will not only get a decent insert slip from the branch, but also a full report from unit that reflects their ability and standing within the branch? Plus there are the valid comments from SJRM
Your 'solution' flies in the face of the guidance given.
How can someone, sat in Whale Island, who has never seen or doesn't know a man/woman possibly provide a fair report on that person?!
I didn't say RN HQ on Whale Island. I said branch. People in the same branch do training together, exercises together and (sometimes) mobilise together.

I can't understand why you feel that a person's own unit should not be able to write them up in the best possible light
Why would someone in unit (unless they happen to be in the same branch and happen to have been on exercises/training/mobilisation with them) have any idea about a given person's ability to do the job the RN wants of them, and their potential to do the job of the next higher rank/rate? They don't do their job in unit. They do their job on exercise and mobilisation.
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Yes, you said BRANCH, and the recognised meaning of that, certainly in the regular RN, is the Branch management, Branch requirements managers and Branch career managers - Whale Island.
Fair enough; what I meant was not people necessarily on Whale Island. I meant that it should be something managed by people in the same branch, who may (but may not) be in the unit. I have never thought of my "branch" meaning people on Whale Island; perhaps that's just me, or maybe it's a difference twixt RN and RNR thinking.

Because one would like to think that a DO would actually chat to an RO when it comes to providing the best possible service to the SP?
Would be nice. Often doesn't happen, particularly if the RO is at another unit/some guy on a ship somewhere. If the way that someone in unit learns about a person to write their report is by talking to the branch ("chat to an RO"), why add this extra layer? Why not just have the branch do it?

Great quote, thanks very much. It's pretty much exactly what I already knew. I still disagree that the unit is best placed to do this. The important sentence there, I believe, is the first one; "Suitability and capability, and having sufficient experience to be employed in at least the next higher rank." This is knowledge the unit doesn't have, but the branch (by which I mean people the subject has trained with, been on exercise with, and mobilised with) do.

So, you actually mean insert slip providers or, if it is the case that there is no one else in the unit who is in the same Branch as the SP and who could be his/her 1RO (really?)
So that would be the branch doing it, who would ideally happen to be in the same unit. Even then, the odds that they've both been on the same exercises is really pretty slim, but yes, that's definitely a better option than someone from outside the branch if only because there's a chance they know people in other units who have been on exercise etc with the subject.

If they are on mobilisation they will get a Short Stand Alone Tour report to cover this period
Some do, some don't. I'm sure everyone is meant to, though, and ideally everyone would.
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War Hero
"HODs at Lt Cdr - perhaps where the HOD is an aspiring Lt, who wants that half stripe, this gives the zest and zeal reqd to ensure Divisional officermanship is addressed."

I know many aspiring Lts who desperately wants that half stripe and who have been repeatedly passed over, and who frankly find its hard to keep being motivated to do jobs like HOD and all the other jobs because it often feels that the RNR doesnt promote on merit but purely on names drawn out of a hat. Its the only explanation I can offer for a system which seems to hold back its best and brightest while expecting them to carry out the workload of Lt Cdrs who, in some cases have allegedly sadly proven adept at finding good reasons to not carry out operational tours and who seemingly turn up for social functions only.

I know too many people who we nurture through the system of Fleet Board etc, then expect to carry the weight of those above them, but for whom promotion does not occur. I can think of several very good Lts who have left due to the sense that due to deadweight being borne above them, they have no chance of promotion for, quite literally, decades. How can we retain talent when we dont offer recognition for the talent?

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I know a number of Lts who already do the Lt Cdr job the RN want on mobilisation and exercise, which at that level is often equal parts refreshing their own knowledge and providing to other exercise participants (both RN and wider NATO) the particular part of the RN's capability that they provide (that's a clumsy way of trying to say that they're not just learning to improve themselves - they're doing the job and helping provide the exercise for others). If you do the higher level job on exercise and mobilisation, you've clearly demonstrated, as SJRM quoted, "Suitability and capability, and having sufficient experience to be employed in at least the next higher rank." Some units are very good at spotting this and passing up promotion reports that acknowledge this and (whilst always of course subservient to the needs of the RN in terms of numbers, and any enormous black marks on someone's blotter) get them into the sights of the promotion board. You're absolutely right, though; when they already do the job of the rank above on exercise and mobilised service, and their annual promotion reports talks about what they do in unit, I'm not surprised they get demoralised.

Some units actively push for promotion people that do a lot for that unit (well, I say "some units"; I know absolutely for sure of only one, and that's only because a senior officer sent out an eMail making this clear - I'm pretty sure others do the same, but I only have the hard data for one); this is (in my understanding) not at all what the RN wants, but it's a legacy of the old days of the self-licking lollipop structure of the RNR. In a tie-break situation, sure, it's a nice-to-have, but the RN makes it clear that people should be promoted on the capability to do the higher job that the RN wants.

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Sure; certainly not trying to cherry pick - it's just that the line you quoted contains what I've always thought of as the key for any and all promotion. Can you do the job the RN requires of you at the next higher level? If yes, you're a promotion prospect. If not, go round again. Everything else is a tie-breaker and a nice-to-have (barring any major malfunctions with the subject candidate, obviously), including how much you do (or do not) do for an RNR unit.

I'm not sure I'd say the system was broken, as some units do it well and push people for promotion based on proven ability to do the job of the next rank/rate up. More that it's applied inconsistently across the RNR and when it stops working how it should at a unit, there's not much that puts it back on track.
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The significant problem, from my point of view, is that Units do not necessarily equal Branches (thus either a DO is not in Branch, and cannot speak to the Branches 'pro-words', or they are one of one in that Branch in that Unit), nor do Branches do their business properly. Add in the fact there is blatant favouritism and an 'old boy network' at work, and I'm surprised anyone remains in the RNR.
I wouldn't necessarily say it was broken but I would agree that there are areas which require attention.

Some unit's do not have officers for all branches therefore your DO is usually someone who has nothing whatsoever to do with any branch training you may do. It's not the officers fault just the nature of the beast. Good one's ask for details of your training including reports from your ORT and use this to form an idea of your role and capabilities within the branch. Others just ask for a list of what you've been up to and weave it into a few paragraphs.

I would say there would be merit to branch SR's having a say in reports as they will usually see most of their region in action on the training weekends however I would stop short of them doing the whole report. This would also be better if the SR in question was from the same unit. Your unit see's things that may not be apparent over weekends for example conducting in unit training. An AB can be asked to do things in unit which they will not get the opportunity to do during a weekend mainly because LH and SR's often need those weekends to keep themselves up to speed also.

Double edged sword perhaps?

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