12 months tours?

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by ouyin, Feb 5, 2009.

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  1. Having read a rather interesting article in The Economist regarding our current doctrine I was struck by a particular contrast between the British and American length of tours. The Americans (as I am sure many here are aware) conduct 12 month tours, while the British use 6 month tours. The Economist referred to this as leading to "discontinuity and short-term thinking".

    I believe there is a certain merit to the idea of longer tours however, I'm also aware of the extra strain this would place on the Armed forces, in effect I'm asking two questions;

    1. Would it be feasible to have longer tours?
    a) What affect would it have on equipment?
    b) What affect would it have on the individual soldier? (being UOTC I could not imagine what mental strains op tours put on soldiers)
    c) Would the period of recovery needed for each unit be so long as to permanently retard that unit's effectiveness?
    d) Would this exacerbate or help with overstretch?

    2. Would a 12 month tour be more effective?
    a) In regards to local dignitaries building relations with senior officers.
    b) In regards to changing tactics on the ground, and indeed both geographic and "local" (who the bad guys are) knowledge of that area.
    c) In situations such as training the ANA or ANP with regards to building a relationship between the trainer and the trainee.

    I hope this isn't too much of a bone question, but the this question doesn't seem to have been discussed specifically before.

    Many thanks.
     
  2. I don't think that tours need to be made longer, we just need more soldiers to carryout the Governments tasks. Making tours longer than 6 months is just a cheap way of making up for years of underfunding by our incompetant and Lying Government.
     
  3. Higher ups in staff jobs can happily stay out there for 12 months plus this would add to continuity.

    Those at the sharp end would I think fall apart due to the tempo.

    But (New Labour/CDS head on) I think it would be an excellent oportunity to thin out the slackers with families etc like the middle management Sgts, senior Capts etc. Who neds these people any way?

    There would have to be a seperate deal for the TA thus reinforcing the them and us which we are doing away with. In fact sod that we'll just tell employers that they need to hold that position open for 18 months. They will go along with that surely?

    So, Regs implode, TA made up of people who can't get jobs due to the 'New Deal'.

    Army on the cheap.
     
  4. The reason we do 6 month tours is because of american research into the effects of spending a prolonged period on the frontline in WWII. They found that after 6 months, the effectiveness of soldiers was significantly reduced, as they became worn out and developed an understandable aversion to risk taking.

    We are already having a retention problem, with many soldiers citing the curretn tempo of operations and being away from home for so much time as reasons for leaving. Just look at the effect that 12 and 15 month tours have had on the US Army Infantry.
     
  5. Longer tours are probably not a good answer - but the current routine of rotating entire Bdes complete with HQs over a short period certainly causes discontinuity. Given that the current tasks are likely to be going on a while I'd suggest permanent HQs at Bde and above, with staff offrs trickle-posted in.
     
  6. Bang on.With Iraq out of the way the units should have longer at home before thier turn comes around again.6mths is more than long enough.
     
  7. dont forget the typical minimum of around 9 months buid up training prior to deployment as much as 2 thirds of which (6 months) can be out of beds on exercises (poland/canada etc.) and firing camps and training courses before you even deploy!
     
  8. I think there’s a case for some people to do 12 months and maybe even longer. I’m currently in a job mentoring some Afghans, and it’s taken me up until the 5 month point just to build an effective working relationship with my mentee. We finally understand each others point of view, and we’re now at a stage where we can share jokes and stories, something we couldn’t do before because the cultural gap was just so large, it took a very long time to bridge.

    If a soldier volunteers for, and is selected for, an OCE post (for example), it’s not beyond the whit of man for Glasgow to ask the soldier if he’s willing to stay longer than the normal six, or let him settle into the job, and then check again at the 3 month point. Ditto Staff jobs, but as rightly pointed out, not the frontline jobs.

    Having seen firsthand the mentoring piece out here, I genuinely believe that if we are ever to get out of Afghanistan, we need to get the mentoring right, thus setting the conditions for those fighting hard down south to come home.

    That can only be done by us staying longer and building decent working relationships with the Afghan National Police and Army. I am painfully aware that if we keep rotating every 6 months, you only effectively get about 1 months quality mentoring.



    Edited to add: I would happily stay, because I am sad, and I know a few of you are too... :wink:
     
  9. With regards to the original Economist article, it flagged an important issue - with each 6 month tour came a new commander, who would often radically change the battlegroup's tactics. While on the one hand this may have introduced new and more effective tactics, it also means a lack of continuity. I remember in particular the article was critical of the way 12 Mechanised Brigade operated on Herrick VI, sweeping through areas again and again without holding ground. If we get an effective commander on the ground, I think it would be better if he stayed for more then 6 months; however, for the troops, it seems unneccesary.


    Eddited to add: except in roles like mentoring - I see your point there, and I think stuff like that should be made an exception as and when neccesary.
     
  10. The trouble with ideas for change is not so much the change in actual policy and whether an alternative might be better or more efficient in some way, rather it is the wider consequences that are borne out of the assumptions that were inherent in the original system. For example, investment (and risk) has been assumed in areas such as DSCOM (DE&S) regarding the pull on, eg, the strat airbridge; which is under considerable pressure in any case. Think of the range of assumptions and risks that have been made (either intended or otherwise) across the breadth of Defence that might be affected by any change in such a fundamental deployment policy as is the 6 month tour 'ideal'.

    Optimal performance must be considered at all levels, making changes in pusuit of optimisation at, say, the operational level, might achieve a localised inprovement in performance but will almost certainly lead to inefficiency in others. In the case of defence finance, for example, this illustrates what is entirely what is wrong with Defence's stovepiped budgetary system; budget holders are forced to make 'efficiencies' without consultation with other related stakeholders. You know what they say about things that arent broke...? That's right; don't fix them.
     
  11. OldSnowy

    OldSnowy LE Moderator Book Reviewer

    Already happening. It's no secret, there already a number of Soldiers (And RMs) on a 12 month tours in Afgh. Not a lot of them, it's probably a bit of a trial, but it's been properly thought through, and are J1 procedures are in place already - how many R&Rs, how many telephone minutes, LSSA, etc.

    I'm only here for 7 or so months - quite long enough. 12 months is a LONG time, even if you are not in a FOB. As one Yank said to me, the difference between 9 and 12 months doesn't seem much - until you get to the 8th month......

    Oh, and those on it are all well up for it, rest assured :)
     
  12. My bold, there would be considerable problems with this in that some soldiers may feel coerced into being 'willing', whether thay actually are or not (or are or not being coerced). As in the feeling that one's career would suffer if one decided not be willing.

    There's certainly a lot of at least anecdotal evidence from the US that long 12 and 15mth tours dramatically increase psychological problems on the soldier's return.

    That said I can see the merit in Bde HQ and staff postings being longer, just not for anyone who does the actual soldiering, OMLT included.
     
  13. I have to say, as against 12 month tours becoming standard as I am, I would jump at the chance to do it myself :? .
     
  14. Personally, I would welcome shorter more frequent tours. I've been back c.9 months and am bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored....



    bored.
     
  15. And therein lies the rub, Dragstrip old chap,

    From my point of view, the mentoring and leadership piece IS broken, and although only a small percentage of our forces in Afghanistan are doing this role, it’s probably the one we desperately need to get right, so we leave with our heads held high and a stable, self running Afghanistan, rather than our tail between out legs and Afghanistan no better than when we arrived.

    The examples of the changing tactics of Brigade Commanders and the constant rotation of mentors to the ANA and ANP sadly cause people to narrow their views and efforts to their six month tour. That’s human nature. Again, I’m not advocating extending the tours of the guys at the sharp end (indeed, having witnessed the tempo down south, I’d shorten it, or at least make sure they actually get a whole 14 days R and R…. but that’s a whole other thread!) but those of us in relatively civilized conditions in Staff Jobs and Mentoring roles could easily stay longer.

    Younger, single, keen lads (and sad people, like me) could easily volunteer to have their names kept on a nominal roll at MCM Division, marked “Yes, I don’t mind staying for longer because I’m too keen/sad/broke”, thus taking pressure off the family men.

    We probably need a few old school “Lawrence of Arabia” types in these jobs, happy to stay, eat the food, drink the chai and make the difference with the locals.

    Anything else is just lip service