Armed Forces: Officers

Ministry of Defence written question – answered on 17th October 2018.

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Photo of Nia Griffith Nia Griffith Shadow Secretary of State for Defence

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what steps the (a) Army, (b) Royal Air Force and (c) Royal Navy are taking to increase opportunities for non-commissioned personnel to become commissioned officers.

Photo of Nia Griffith Nia Griffith Shadow Secretary of State for Defence

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many personnel in the (a) Army, (b) Royal Air Force and (c) Royal Navy were promoted from Other Ranks to Officer in each of the last five years.

Photo of Nia Griffith Nia Griffith Shadow Secretary of State for Defence

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many (a) women and (b) men in the (i) Army, (ii) Royal Air Force and (iii) Royal Navy were promoted from Other Ranks to Officer in each of the last five years.

Photo of Nia Griffith Nia Griffith Shadow Secretary of State for Defence

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many BAME personnel in the (a) Army, (b) Royal Air Force and (c) Royal Navy were promoted from Other Ranks to Officer in each of the last five years.

Photo of Nia Griffith Nia Griffith Shadow Secretary of State for Defence

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many Commonwealth citizens in the Armed Forces were promoted from Other Ranks to Officer in each of the last five years.

Photo of Tobias Ellwood Tobias Ellwood The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence

Royal Navy (RN)

The Royal Navy continues to encourage promotion from the rating corps through the use of the Upper Yardman (UY) and Senior Upper Yardman (SUY) schemes in order to maintain a sustainable structure and suitable balance of direct entrants and former ratings. In 2017 the SUY route was extended to include additional incentives to encourage more Warrant Officers to apply. This is now known as the SUY(Warrant Officer) scheme.

The Royal Navy issues regular information on this subject to all its personnel to encourage consideration of this promotion route. In recent years the Navy has reviewed and extended the validity of the Admiralty Interview Board pass for UY and SUY candidates and adjusted age limitations placed on these routes to expand the candidate pool. In 2018 the RN made clear the process to be followed to apply for a Commission, and the ability for candidates to apply at the same time for multiple routes (UY, SUY or SUY(WO) if eligible) and for multiple branches subject to the requisite skills and qualifications. In addition, the Engineers issued separate guidance to clarify the routes for rating candidates to be extracted as Engineer Officers to maximise opportunities, and minimise training requirements based on their academic qualifications, such as those already degree qualified, or who have attained a Foundation Degree through technical career courses for ratings.

The Royal Navy offers additional options to those who have been unsuccessful in their officer application within their chosen branch. As an example, unsuccessful Air Engineering SUY and SUY(WO) candidates are informed that applications for other shortage branches, such as Weapon Engineering, are welcomed and will not adversely affect further applications in their source Branch.

Typically, over a third of Royal Navy Officer corps are recruited via the UY/SUY route. The Royal Navy will continue to review extraction routes for ratings to become Officers and the Service remains committed to ensuring there are healthy promotion prospects where a Service need exists.

Army

Soldiers with the potential to become Officers are identified by their performance on courses (such as the Command Leadership and Management course) and their annual appraisals. Soldiers are made aware of the opportunity to become Commissioned Officers by their Chain of Command, internal publications and initiatives such as the Potential Officer Development Programme. The number of opportunities available is dependent on the needs of the specific Army cap badges.

The Army Reserve has always recruited a significant number of its Officers from within its cohort of other Ranks. Since March 2016 only Professionally Qualified and Specialist Officers join direct into the Officer cohort; all others wishing to join the Army Reserve as Direct Entry Officers are required to enlist as Soldiers first.

Royal Air Force (RAF)

There are a number of opportunities throughout an Airman/woman’s career that provide options for personnel to explore commissioning, including through the Joint Appraisal Report system, RAF Unit Commissioning Clubs and the Branch Engineering Scheme which is a bespoke commissioning pathway for Other Rank engineers which is designed to offer academic qualification via dedicated study at RAF Cosford. Currently, the RAF has a 30% annual Officer intake from the non-commissioned cohort and this has remained stable for the last few years.

The requested information on the numbers of Service personnel promoted from Other Ranks to Officers, including a breakdown by gender, ethnicity and Commonwealth nationality is provided in the attached tables.

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