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02 April 2012 @ 11:54 am
Info Help?  
While I love thinking and writing about John's life as a soldier, I know next to nothing about how the British army works. Now that I'm trying to write a character from that part of John's past, I realize I can't fudge it anymore. So...

Can anyone direct me to a website or a good google search that can give me some information regarding how the British military service operates? I'm interested in how long on average a person has to be in the army before their service is up (barring injury or dishonorable discharge) and if, like in the States, the British government offers some sort of incentive (such as paying one's higher education) in order to recruit.

My internet searching skills are currently sleeping off my trip to Asia.

Thanks!
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The Writer They Call Tay: SHERLOCK: Watson's cute noseawanderingbard on April 2nd, 2012 08:24 pm (UTC)

My Google-fu informs me that a minimum service time is four years, though it can be up to nine years for certain professions within the army. 17 is the minimum age to join, 31 is the maximum. A tour of duty lasts six months.

There is a section about scholarships and financial aid on the Britsh Army Website here. It looks like if you join as a Medical Officer (a doctor), they will pay for your training.

Hope that's helpful! The first information is from Yahoo! answers, which may not be accurate, but seems to be the answer that everyone has given. I would recommend asking on britpickery if you need more info. There's usually several helpful people there that can you your answers quickly. sherlockbbc also has a facts:military section, and you can ask questions there too.
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on April 2nd, 2012 10:07 pm (UTC)
Thank you!! Very helpful!
The Writer They Call Tay: Merlin: Thumbs up!awanderingbard on April 2nd, 2012 11:48 pm (UTC)
No problem, I was interested in the same things, so it was useful for me as well. And I am happy to abet any fic undertakings you might have. :-D
Astoundingly fond of avocados and rainy weather.guardian_chaos on April 2nd, 2012 09:50 pm (UTC)
You're writing that!? *trips all over the place in excitement* Okay, I've done some Google-fu for you, bolding a couple of the more relevant points. *cracks knuckles* Let's begin.

This website seems to have a fair amount of basic stats. It says:

"Service age and obligation:
16-33 years of age (officers 17-28) for voluntary military service (with parental consent under 18); women serve in military services, but are excluded from ground combat positions and some naval postings; must be citizen of the UK, Commonwealth, or Republic of Ireland; reservists serve a minimum of 3 years, to age 45 or 55."

The official British army website (http://www.army.mod.uk) says they provide "a bonus to those who stay in the Regular Army after their initial four-year commitment" [I only saw that one link saying 3 years, though I saw VERY FEW links discussing minimum service]...soldiers who serve for eight years are eligible for a single payment of £7,500." And this is the link for their scholarships information, which seems different depending on whether a soldier is active or not.

It seems like pre-any actual military training, the Further Education Bursary offers "yearly cash payment to help [recruits] meet the cost of [their] course[s]...who want to get qualified before they join the Regular Army....while [they're] at school or college and guarantee...a training place when [they] finish...The bursary is worth £1000 for each year...(up to 4 years), and a £1000 bonus when [they] complete Phase 1 training [so this scholarship STARTS being available pre-any Phase 1 military training]...available for Level 2 or 3 vocational courses and A levels. ...have to be aged between 16 and 32 years old."

For some undergraduates, "The Army Undergraduate Bursary [offers] between £6000 and £8000, depending on the length of your university course...have to pass the Army's officer selection process to be offered the Bursary, and if successful...given a provisional place at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. You'll be expected to serve as a Regular officer for at least three years."

Possibly John-related, there's also scholarship help for "regular doctors, nurses, dentists or vets" so long as they pass officer selection. It seems rather generous for them, too. Quotes: "The Army will pay your tuition fees and you'll also get an annual salary of around £14,515 for the last three years of your course, plus a £150 book allowance...Medical students...have the chance to do work on attachment at Army medical units, either in the UK or overseas. In return you'll be expected to serve for six years after you've qualified and completed officer training...To be eligible you must be...studying at a UK university, within three years of finishing your course."

Ah, and just as misc. knowledge, I found in an eHow article for "How to Join the United Kingdom Military" that there is something called the BARB (British Army Recruitment Battery) test, which tests "basic reasoning, letter checking, number distances, category reorganization, and symbol rotation, which evaluates if two letters are similar...to see which careers you are capable of handling...including combat, engineering, and logistics." There's also a physical fitness test, and "a two-day program called the Army Development and Selection Centre which assesses potential recruits’ physical, mental, and teamwork abilities."

I hope some of this helped. I'm not sure what kind of soldier you're trying to write about, so I don't know how to narrow down the research much. Basically, it looks like the better the benefits offered (medical-based scholarships seem particularly all-inclusive, with a lot of monetary incentives offered), the longer the soldier is expected to serve.
Astoundingly fond of avocados and rainy weather.: Avatar_FAIL!guardian_chaos on April 2nd, 2012 09:52 pm (UTC)
Oh gosh, someone already replied, and so much more succinctly, too. This tab has been open for over an hour for me. Yikes. O_O
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on April 2nd, 2012 10:09 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure what kind of soldier you're trying to write about, so I don't know how to narrow down the research much.

Thank you! I'll be writing about a medical officer so I needed to know what his situation would be education and financial-wise. And also to decide if he'd still be in the army when he runs into John post-Baker Street.

And double the help is always a good thing!
Astoundingly fond of avocados and rainy weather.: Sherlock_Heart+Mindguardian_chaos on April 2nd, 2012 10:42 pm (UTC)
Oh, yay! Well, glad to help! I feel like I learned a lot, looking that stuff up. So there's benefits both ways.

If you're writing about medical officers, this is the link that seems to focus most on the medical scholarship side of things. Good luck with your writing! I look forward to reading this story of yours. :D