This week I told my Commanding Officer that I am giving my notice to terminate my commission in the British Army. A momentous moment for any Officer. I have been considering leaving the Army for a quite a while and after spending last month in the UK, I decided that this is the time to draw a curtain on a 12-year career (4 years as a reservist, 8 years regular service). I am currently experiencing a mixture of emotions; from anxiety and fear on one side but also bags of excitement for the future.
I haven’t made this decision because I dislike my job. Over the last 18 months, I’ve had an amazing time. From working in Cairo, trekking the Dolpa Region of Nepal and moving to Cyprus, the Army has given me bags of fulfilment and purpose. My decision to leave is based on the next five to ten years of my career. To create space and time to be able to explore new opportunities.
From the field to staff
You get to a point in your career as an Officer where you are no longer employed in the field and are employed as a staff officer. Your weapon is no longer a rifle. You are now armed with an excel spreadsheet and a keyboard. If I was to remain in the Army, my future is almost certainly destined to feature a lot of typing and a lot less interaction with the soldiers I serve. This was always going to happen and I knew that from the start.
I love the Army and will always be proud to have served alongside many amazing people. The people I work with are what makes leaving such a difficult decision.
Family and friends
I have been married for just over four years now and my wife has made many sacrifices to join me around the world on postings at the drop of a hat. We have lived in four houses in the last four years. Two overseas moves and a fifth move on the horizon next summer. This was great when we were young and without a care in the world but we both feel the time has come where we would like to put down a solid base somewhere in the UK.
My current community is built entirely on the regimental system the Army has used for centuries. The Army recruits soldiers from areas in the UK and puts them together into Infantry regiments which helps to build an ethos and a shared connection. I’m lucky to have served with two Northern Regiments, the Yorkshire Regiment and the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment.
But this is a transient community. People move on every year or two to a new posting in a new location. I’ve built many strong friendships over the years but ultimately, many of these people I may never see again. I am looking forward to being able to build a more permanent community in the UK. At this moment I’m not entirely sure where that will be. It is likely to be in the North of England but I don’t want to close any doors just yet.
The future of the British Army
I joined to serve on operations and to make a difference in the world. Currently, the main areas that the British Army are deployed on is the deterrence to Russian aggression in support of the Estonian Army and the training mission against Daesh in Iraq and Syria.
Being brutally honest, these operations do not excite me enough to stay in the Army. As with any military operation, it’s not guaranteed that I personally will deploy to assist with these tasks.
Instead of increased instability and uncertainty, I will seek to fill my life with my own projects of my own using the skills and lessons I have learnt over the years as an Infantry Officer. My aim is to add more stability to my future.
The world is a big place
Leaving the Army will allow me to create time and space to explore new opportunities. The world is a big place and there are countless paths I can follow. I will be leaving the Army just as I turn 30. A symbolic time to make the next decade one of new adventures and expeditions. Rebalancing my life to spend more time with Lucia, family and friends. It will also allow me the time to plan and head off on bigger and more ambitious expeditions (I’ll also be able to grow a beard and have long hair!)
I now have 12 months notice to serve before my final day in the Army. It is time for the next adventure.