The Cost of an Officer

From a recent Freedom of Information request on the cost per student at Sandhurst;

The full cost of a single trainee on the Commissioning Course at Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst for each of the last three financial years has been assessed as follows:

Financial Year   Cost
2012/13             £90,049
2013/14             £92,300
2014/15             £93,673

No word on value though :)

33 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Paul Robinson
Paul Robinson
November 2, 2014 8:42 pm

Is there a supplement for being an officer and a gentleman, or working with the French?

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
November 2, 2014 8:44 pm

@PR

No such thing as an officer and a gentleman.

The Army are full of gentleman pretending to be officers, the RN full of officers pretending to be gentlemen and the RAF full of people hoping to be either :)

Chuck Hill
November 2, 2014 8:49 pm

Please help me a bit. How long is the course at Sandhurst? Is this the annual cost per student or the cost per student for the full course?

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
November 2, 2014 9:15 pm

Deftly ignoring APATS’ barbette, don’t forget that foreign cadets’ governments pay vast sums, or possibly nothing at all, depending on the nature of the UK’s strategic relationship with those countries.

ghostwhowalksnz
ghostwhowalksnz
November 2, 2014 9:32 pm

After having a look the course outline, the beginning seems a mix of adventure training and personal grooming.
” There are introductions to leadership, tactics, map reading, living in the field, weapon handling, drill, physical training and personal administration such as ironing, polishing boots and room layout. The focus is on teamwork and building confidence.”

By the final term, things are getting serious.
The Directing Staff give them more responsibility, so it’s now up to the cadets to motivate and organise themselves, stay fit, arrange sporting activities and plan fund-raising events such as charity balls.

a
a
November 3, 2014 5:31 am

A more interesting comparison would be with the cost of a private going through his six months at Catterick…

Obsvr
Obsvr
November 3, 2014 7:35 am

Costs in other countries would be interesting, obviously those indulging in the degree palaver are going to cost a lot more. My understanding is that RMAS packs the basic soldier recruit course (12 – 14 weeks) into about the first 6 weeks.

tweckyspat
November 3, 2014 8:32 am

This could equally go in the ‘ sacred cows’ section ?

Is the UK alone in maintaining single service officer training on a non- university style format (ie officer training de-linked from academic studies) ? Anyone able to offer a sensible reason why ?

In the 80s the Sandhurst graduate course was only 2 terms long so very little chance to learn anything much … the Army still managed to get by somehow

DGOS
DGOS
November 3, 2014 9:09 am

Officer and gentleman but not at the same time – I believe!

As a matter of interest what is the notional cost of training SNCO’s.

Secondly we always hear about the loss of junior officers in 14 18 war but what is the number of SNCO’s killed in the war.

Not a figure I have ever seen.

Best quote on think it was Hut 29 tv series on national service – ‘private cccc dumb but sly – good officer material’

Always shot at my son when he was at Dartmouth..

I was brought up by a WO111 (TSM)

Aubrey's Shadow
Aubrey's Shadow
November 3, 2014 10:43 am

I can add a bit to TD’s musing over the value, but only in an historical sense.

Thumbing back through my own commissioning pamphlets from 1985, I see that I was bestowed and armed with the following knowledge:

– at breakfast, one should expect ‘cereals, tea and coffee to be laid out on a sideboard’
– always cut up fruit and eat with a dessert knife and fork, but it’s important that if fingers become sticky, one must ‘merely dip the tips of the fingers shallowly into the water of a finger bowl, before (not after…) drying them unobtrusively on a napkin’
– ‘jeans have no place in an Officer’s wardrobe’
– ‘a newly-commissioned young Officer must endeavour to build up a wardrobe avoiding cheap clothes and extremes of fashion. The cost can easily be defrayed by opening a subscription account with a good tailor’

So there you have it. A sturdy sideboard for your cereals, which doubtless has a cupboard for the finger bowl, and shelf for the napkin, and likely space for the iron to keep those fashion-free clothes in tip top shape, together with a small drawer for the hand-written invoices from one’s tailor of repute. At the time it also doubled as a handy nuclear shelter to drag under the stairs in case the Russians wanted to melt Blighty.

Allan
Allan
November 3, 2014 4:53 pm

@Aubrey’s Shadow,

Hmm….with the greatest of respect I never knew that people of a certain rank bought purple cords or salmon pink trousers through their own choice…I simply presumed that they were issued with them.

Anyway, is there such a thing as tailor of ill-repute? I bet the outfits would be far more interesting and inventive.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
November 3, 2014 6:48 pm

@ Aubrey’s Shadow,

I went through a year before you. I recall some of those instructions, but also that some of us were assumed to already know them and not need telling. In my platoon, there was myself (going to the Cavalry), two Guardsmen (Coldcream and Welsh), and a Green Jacket among about 30 others. We four were taken aside by our Scots Guards CSgt and told that what he expected from us was not anything like adherence to that sort of nonsense, but to be tactically the best in the platoon and also the fittest.

I was also caught half way down the road to the Staff College Gate by the Commandant’s wife. I was in that small layby on the left out of sight of the Chief of Staff’s quarter and the drag down to the gate itself, changing out of the ridiculous “Walking Out Order” of pressed twill trews and a hacking coat, and into something more appropriate for a night out clubbing in London. I knew her very slightly from before. She slowed down her car and observed that she thought the Cavalry cadets were at least not being brainwashed (her husband was a Cavalryman of great renown).

I also remember that we all regularly got beasted by the PTIs: the cold water swim in January 85 was a real bastard: out and around the island on the Assault Course lake, breaking a thin skin of ice as we went. Our African and Arab cadets were excused as it was thought that it would kill them.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
November 3, 2014 7:00 pm

I had a RM DO at Dartmouth who used to like running his own early morning (period zeros) a dip in the Dart and grid sprints on Sandquay steps sucked.

Topman
Topman
November 3, 2014 8:42 pm

@ APATS
‘and the RAF full of people hoping to be either’

Come on APATS! ;) I thought you’d know the proper saying ‘the RAF trying to be both and end up being neither’

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
November 3, 2014 10:49 pm

….all of which memories bring back two specific instances. The first was a DS Captain of the Welch Fusiliers who commanded another platoon in my company of cadets deliberately parading his platoon in their civilian suits, and then inspecting them with a burning Dunhill lighter. Anyone whose suit melted was compelled to strip to boxer shorts and socks and bin the offending suit. The other was an esoteric debate about single or double vents. The answer was a double vent because it does not unbalance the suit (or hacking coat) when mounted.

Quite whether anyone in those days thought about the fact that for some, the purchase of a suit was a self-funded imposition before arriving as a cadet, and to see it burned while wearing it I don’t know. It’s not how I would treat someone.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
November 3, 2014 11:29 pm

@RT

There are always people let loose in the training cycle who never should be. In my time at FOST I used to use the mantra of training not testing other than day 1 and day x. Had a really horrible RM CSGT PTI during my training but sorted it during a staff vs cadets rugby game. 15 stone jocks snap bullies tibias for fun.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
November 4, 2014 2:13 am

APATS,

all I can say about that particular Royal Welch Fusilier is that he was someone who started out in the old man’s infantry Regiment, and who the old man got rid of when he was CO because he thought that he was a shit, so he transferred as a Lt to the RWF. I was about 16 at the time. Three years later, I was a Cadet, and thankfully not in his Platoon. It was quite instructive to see him on the day of my commissioning to see the old man completely blank him, but then that’s what you can do when you have the same self-confidence of 25 years of service, 3 rows of campaign ribbons, and oak leaves and rosettes on most of them as my old man. He never gave a toss for little Hitlers, and nor do I.

I trust the old man’s judgement.

Chuck Hill
November 4, 2014 5:25 am

There are three paths to a commission in the US, the four year federal academies, OCS (officer candidate school), and ROTC (reserve officer training corp).

There are five federal academies, West Point for the Army, the Naval Academy (which graduates both Navy and Marine officers), the Air Force Academy, Coast Guard Academy, and Merchant Marine Academy (many of their graduates go into either the Navy or Coast Guard).

OCS is a short course for college graduates. It used to be 13 weeks during WWII making the graduates “90 day wonders.” It is longer now, I believe.

ROTC (Reserve Officers Training Corp) is a four year program. Students receive tuition assistance and a stipend. Some training is done during the academic year and they do more intense training during the summers.

Chuck Hill
November 4, 2014 5:31 am

There is also a Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences where the services including the Public Health Service train doctors, nurses, and dentists. http://www.usuhs.mil/

Obsvr
Obsvr
November 4, 2014 9:24 am

RMAS concentrates on military training at platoon level, once the basic military skills have been imparted, and most of the classroom learning is about the land environment. I can’t see this suiting RN and RAF. I was there rather longer ago than RT & co, when it was a 2 yr cse. The best bit was the three military history lecturers – Peter Young, David Chandler and John Kegan. For those unfamiliar with PY apart from his later Civil War passion, he was one of the first commandos (proper commandos that is) and was at Lofoten the first cdo raid, and ended the war commanding a cdo brigade.

On the idea of one size fits all for training, its worth remembering a few points. First all technical training will be in one place, the establishment being built at Lyneham. Army basic training is currently at about 5 separate centres, Bassingbourne, Pirbright, etc. Each trains for some infantry regts plus others parts of the army using the standard basic military training syllabus. There’s a reason for this distribution, UK is a small place and there is a need for a lot of field training including ranges, there isn’t a suitable site for one large centre, which would have to be ‘greenfields’ because all the other training areas such as Thetford and Salisbury Plain are fairly well filled by other units, and the needs of the basic training syllabus means priority for training facilities, which in effect means dedicated ones.

It’s useful to remember that the army funds quite a lot of undergraduates at a variety of universities, that’s one of the reasons that most cadets are graduates. There was a recent thing in the UK media when someone compared the number of Oxbridge graduates in the upper echelons of the UK forces (when I was at RMAS there were 20 places per year at Cambridge, but you had to get the place on your own merit the same as school leavers, the army didn’t have the say), to no Ivy League in the upper echelons of the US forces.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
November 4, 2014 10:09 am

– Peter Young…also one of the Godfathers of wargaming as a nerdy but quite popular hobby…

Not sure, but I’d guess that the US Military Academies are seen as a part of the Ivy League, especially for East Coast Patricians who do a few years in Uniform before taking a seat on the Board of the Family Trust and going into politics…and the link between that group and the levers of power is much clearer than that between the graduates of RMAS and Westminster or Whitehall (other than in a specialist capacity)…when did we last see a General in serious contention for top public office?

The idea of the US as a classless society can easily be overstated…there are no titles, but then there were no titles in Ancient Rome either…just public offices like “Senator” held almost always by Patricians…plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose…

GNB

GNB

Chuck Hill
November 5, 2014 12:29 am

Actually very few US politicians have any connection with the military now and Ivy Leaguers and Academy graduates are worlds apart.

tweckyspat
November 5, 2014 6:43 am

Obsvr. The idea that RMAS can teach anyone about platoon tactics is laughable. Stumbling around barossa or STANTA on patrols v the Ghurkha demo company prepares you for very little IMHO. I never understood why the ‘O’ type wasn’t resurrected by Bett in the 90s- the best way of learning what soldiers do is to follow their training path.

I am not sure that we need to go to entirely ‘ purple’ initial officer training but given the 80% graduate entry now it should be entirely possible to have completed basic recruit training (either in vacations or in the Reserves) by the time the commissioning course starts. The fact that many RMAS cadets already have (in some cases extensive) military backgrounds is a also a luxury and a waste

With all respect, the academic and intellectual quality level of RMAS since the days of Keegan and Chandler has fallen way way back.

Obsvr
Obsvr
November 5, 2014 7:46 am

The only formal infantry training that most officers get is at RMAS, the minority (ie infantry) of course go to Warminster for the full works. Just as the others attend YO courses at their own arms and services schools. Basic infantry skills are needed in all parts of the army.

It is possible to train officers in 6 months, that’s been the traditional length in several countries for conscripts, I’ve actually instructed at one such place. However, longer allows a more rounded syllabus.

What I do think is the wrong approach is combining regular army officer training with a university degree in the one establishment. Much better for officers to attend a wide variety of universities and study a wide variety of subjects because it is far more likely to develop a broad collective perspective.

tweckyspat
November 5, 2014 8:18 am

Obvsvr

I am not suggesting no basic mil skills required, just that these skills would be better learned in the same place and alongside soldier recruits.

Looking back on my 20+ year army career I spent 3 years at uni, 9 months on SGC, 3 months on YO’s course before I ever really confronted in practical terms what soldiers were like and what they needed from me as a platoon leader. That can’t be right

AW1
AW1
November 5, 2014 11:26 am

@TD,

I don’t think that the YO/OR RM Cdo courses are identical. Very similar, but not identical. As I understand it, the Commando section of the course (which for the YOs forms only a very small part of their course), is common, but with some differences. They do do the same assessment (Cdo Test Week), but the YOs have to pass to a higher (faster) standard then the ORs. I would suspect that some of the differences could be removed to run an identical course. The ethos is the same though, and they are of course, co-located. Talking to some Schoolie Officers, these differences could be for a couple of reasons, but probably that a, they want a slightly different output/focus from the two courses and b, the dull reason of timetabling and course programming.

As for merged training of all officers, I’m not sure what you would achieve. The separate facilities exist, but I don’t think any of the 3 could absorb all of the numbers required easily, which would probably mean a significant capital outlay to build more accommodation etc. Each service does have differing requirements which would result in 3 different training streams at this combined establishment, removing some of the cost savings of having a common training pipeline. It probably would save money eventually, but I wonder what it would do to Service Ethos and then eventually operational capability.

With the RN, co-locating Raleigh and BRNC might on the surface have some merit, reduction in overheads etc, but again, there isn’t the space at either establishment. I think there is a reasonable argument that neither establishment is perfectly suited for its task, but that is an argument of 80% vs 100% and is the cost of closing the 20% gap worth it? I suggest not.

I am all for rationalising training, co-locating etc, in order to save money but I think the idea of super establishments etc has become almost an end point in itself, an article of faith that they must save money, because it’s all in one location. I think the ongoing saga of technical training can attest to that. A lot of it is the argument we often see when discussing equipment, gold plating, perfection being the enemy of good enough and so on. I actually think that the current set up is roughly about right. From my perspective that means nominally single service Part 1 and Part 2 Training (basic training and trade training if you will), but with that co-located intra service where possible, and where through put of a course/trade etc is so low as to be difficult to justify as a single service preserve, to co-locate it inter service.

To put some examples on that, as I have alluded to before, I currently lurk at HMS Sultan as a marine engineer. Funnily enough, most of our training is stokers, General Service and SM, Officers and Ratings. However, we also train REME Officers for a short course of some weeks, which forms part of their nominally single service training pipeline. We also have the RLC come here to do outboard motor type courses etc (for 17 P&M Regt), the RN sends other branches here to do H&S, maintenance admin, and other exciting things, and that’s before we even consider the Fleet Air Arm hiding at the other end of the site. There is a lot of rationalisation that has been done, and I’m sure plenty more can (and will) be done, but I would definitely not assume that co-locating and common courses means saving money.

Rambling post complete.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
November 5, 2014 11:22 pm

@Chuck Hill – Thanks for that – just picked up something from Pew Research Centre dated September last year to the effect that about 20% of both the Senate and the House of Representatives did have some military experience, which is more than twice the UK rate at about the same period (50 of 650 in November last year). I’m interested in this, so I might do a bit more digging about…

GNB

Obsvr
Obsvr
November 6, 2014 7:18 am

If my understanding that RMAS spends about half the time on basic recruit training as an ATR does is correct then I can see absolutely no value in combined training.

Kent
Kent
November 6, 2014 10:52 pm

@Chuck Hill – “Actually very few US politicians have any connection with the military now and Ivy Leaguers and Academy graduates are worlds apart.”

As an Officer Candidate School, “Benning School for Boys,” Distinguished Military Graduate, I can tell you that we were worlds apart from both of them. I left Fort Knox where I had been an instructor and assistant operations sergeant to go to OCS at Benning. I thought the behavior of officers before that was just a function of them being officers. After commissioning, I found a great difference between OCS and ROTC officers on one side and West Pointers, also called “ring knockers,” on the other. Not to say that there weren’t differences between OCS and ROTC officers, but neither group seemed to have the unwarranted arrogance that was apparently imbued at “Hudson High.”

As for our differences from Ivy Leaguers, they were not worlds apart; they were galaxies apart.

a
a
November 10, 2014 12:18 pm

just picked up something from Pew Research Centre dated September last year to the effect that about 20% of both the Senate and the House of Representatives did have some military experience, which is more than twice the UK rate at about the same period (50 of 650 in November last year).

Don’t forget that the UK binned conscription in 1960 and the US kept on with it until (I think) 1973. That’s going to make a difference.
Also the US military is twice as big, adjusted for population size.