According to General Sir Nick Carter we aren't spending enough on "modernisation"

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Good post.

I guess it's just that when you have to endure rather than enjoy an individual time has a way of dragging.
Yep.

I was willing to give him cautious benefit of the doubt at the start, despite having seen him a bit close up and heard more from others who had worked with him, that wasn't entirely flattering. But important to remember, I think, that at the time (2010-2012) he was basically the only potential candidate who openly accepted that things needed to change, and that was the battle being fought for the post-Afghan period.

Except his changes turned out to be, first poorly constructed and implemented: A2020, A2020 Refine, A2020 Refine, Reduce and Simmer, A2020 II: This Time It's Personnel, A2020 Revisited - The Legend of The Army Reserve, A2020 Re-imagined As A Marvel Movie, A2020 Rebooted: A2030, and so on. Often using straight up lies (sorry, optics) to cover these changes or failures ("trained soldier"). Second, overwhelmingly political / PR window dressing, often through the most cynical exploitation of politically palatable themes (e.g. diversity) which sucked all the air out of the room, focusing attention on, at best, proportionally minor real problems which the Army was already addressing - an organisation that has already received a Stonewall award for 3 years running is not an obvious candidate for an existential diversity campaign - while ignoring the major shitshows it didn't want, or know how, to change. This conveniently obscured the Army's project failures (recruitment), internal debates (staffs, HQs, careers, future requirements), constant changing of plans (A2020's infinite iterations), and worst of all, the manifest real complaints of soldiers on the ground (accomodation & food, TOS, etc).

He's been both the logical extension, and worst example so far, of Officer-As-Politician. He's not entirely responsible for the 'say-do gap', that is definitely a wider officer and Army problem, but he might well be its antichrist.
 

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
My bold - I suspect that for that one reason alone there will be a sustained and determined campaign to ensure he does NOT get the job.
One of the good things about CDS is that the appointment is partially resistant to interests campaigning. Ultimately BoJo is going to sit down with several candidates, make up his own mind, and his opinion will become reality. That is, by all accounts, what happened with several previous CDS, despite Defence being opposed to them.

I just wish we had a PM who showed any evidence that he possesses his own opinions. Is there a science to follow in this case? Waristry? Defensics? I fully expect that history will produce three press releases praising the other potential candidates for CDS as the best and only choice, one of which will be picked at random from whatever tombola Downing Street spins when the PM needs to make a decision.
 
Last edited:

Cold_Collation

LE
Book Reviewer
One of the good things about CDS is that the appointment is partially resistant to interests campaigning. Ultimately BoJo is going to sit down with several candidates, make up his own mind, and his opinion will become reality. That is, by all accounts, what happened with several previous CDS, despite Defence being opposed to them.

I just wish we had a PM who showed any evidence that he possesses his own opinions. Is there a science to follow in this case? Waristry? Defensics? I fully expect that history will produce three press releases praising all potential candidates for CDS as the best and only choice, one of which will be picked at random from whatever tombola Downing Street spins when the PM needs to make a decision.
Rock and a hard place, though.

It's not unreasonable to expect your VSOs to be SMEs. The problem comes, as you say, when someone is prepared to tick certain boxes for their personal advancement, rather than the organisation's.

Are you playing for the position, or for posterity?

I can think of some people I know who fully embrace and live Serve to Lead, and want to leave the military in a better state, even if much-reduced, than when they arrived; perhaps a better way to describe it is fit for purpose.

I can also think of Carter.
 

Auld-Yin

ADC
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Reviews Editor
Rock and a hard place, though.

It's not unreasonable to expect your VSOs to be SMEs. The problem comes, as you say, when someone is prepared to tick certain boxes for their personal advancement, rather than the organisation's.

Are you playing for the position, or for posterity?

I can think of some people I know who fully embrace and live Serve to Lead, and want to leave the military in a better state, even if much-reduced, than when they arrived; perhaps a better way to describe it is fit for purpose.

I can also think of Carter.
Once VSOs reach the CDS and Deputy levels they are no longer soldiers/sailors/airmen but are politicians in fancy dress.
 

Cold_Collation

LE
Book Reviewer
Once VSOs reach the CDS and Deputy levels they are no longer soldiers/sailors/airmen but are politicians in fancy dress.
I don't disagree. However, they continue to purport to represent the people below them.

I don't know what the solution is; selection by peers, rather than politicians? A consensus rather than a competition?

I'm just being silly, aren't I?
 

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Rock and a hard place, though.

It's not unreasonable to expect your VSOs to be SMEs. The problem comes, as you say, when someone is prepared to tick certain boxes for their personal advancement, rather than the organisation's.

Are you playing for the position, or for posterity?

I can think of some people I know who fully embrace and live Serve to Lead, and want to leave the military in a better state, even if much-reduced, than when they arrived; perhaps a better way to describe it is fit for purpose.

I can also think of Carter.
Certainly, but from the point of view of the PM I think this is simpler. There is his personal preference (what he wants from a CDS) and political reality.

I'd wager that most PM's don't have a strong personal preference, they simply aren't invested enough in Defence. There might be a sensible choice along SME lines (pick an Army CDS when operations are primarily land), but that isn't an obvious factor in 2021. My point was simply that the political reality looks pretty good for Radakin. You can make many arguments that his history is aligned with the current government's desires and requirements. Add to that the economic reality that more cuts are going to happen in the public sector, the MOD is a prime target, and cutting headshed is effectively a cost-free approach to doing that. Nobody will object to cutting staff officers and HQ. They do object to cutting soldiers. If you can make a case that it improves efficiency too, brilliant. There are many others, I won't list them all, but in short: he's a good political choice out of the 4 candidates.

As above, I think the problem is that BoJo is too random, indecisive or influenced by particular voices. He shows every sign of carrying forward the shoulder-shrugging instinct to avoid responsibility for decisions displayed in his pre-PM political career, into the job as PM, where it simply doesn't fly. So unfortunately, while it's not usually true for CDS appointments, @Auld-Yin may be right this time round.
 

Cold_Collation

LE
Book Reviewer
Certainly, but from the point of view of the PM I think this is simpler. There is his personal preference (what he wants from a CDS) and political reality.

I'd wager that most PM's don't have a strong personal preference, they simply aren't invested enough in Defence. There might be a sensible choice along SME lines (pick an Army CDS when operations are primarily land), but that isn't an obvious factor in 2021. My point was simply that the political reality looks pretty good for Radakin. You can make many arguments that his history is aligned with the current government's desires and requirements. Add to that the economic reality that more cuts are going to happen in the public sector, the MOD is a prime target, and cutting headshed is effectively a cost-free approach to doing that. Nobody will object to cutting staff officers and HQ. They do object to cutting soldiers. If you can make a case that it improves efficiency too, brilliant. There are many others, I won't list them all, but in short: he's a good political choice out of the 4 candidates.

As above, I think the problem is that BoJo is too random, indecisive or influenced by particular voices. He shows every sign of carrying forward the shoulder-shrugging instinct to avoid responsibility for decisions displayed in his pre-PM political career, into the job as PM, where it simply doesn't fly. So unfortunately, while it's not usually true for CDS appointments, @Auld-Yin may be right this time round.
Again, not disagreeing but what you're highlighting is something else: the interests of the organisation and the interests of those at the top of it are out of kilter. And, as things stand, and as the most recent shit show comprehensive and focused defence review has demonstrated, that's not going to willingly change.

I was accused elsewhere of being nostalgic for BAOR because I criticised the ducking of the issue on heavy elements. My response was that we have not lost a single cap badge. Moreover, the 'new' Ranger units are just the Rifles (and their forebears, such as the Light Infantry in their various forms) re-badged. So, we've gained a cap badge while not addressing the fact that we are out of balance.

This, we are told, is a success. Emperor, let me sell you this cloak...

The changes you describe are in everyone's interests. Not those of a select few, pensions, school fees and so on, but the army and the country as a whole.

Yes, I know I'm teaching you to suck eggs, here. Apologies, and all that.
 

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
The changes you describe are in everyone's interests. Not those of a select few, pensions, school fees and so on, but the army and the country as a whole.
Everyone except the select few, of course, who so far have a 100% record preventing those changes. A potential CDS who has proven the willingness to kill that sacred cow should be chosen simply because he's likely the only one this century.

I haven't checked the latest one in full, but worth noting that along with saving or adding capbadges, all previous defence reviews in the past few decades have also managed to add at least one major HQ each time. In some cases (2010), despite ostensibly stating they reduced them.*

* For the yoof, they claimed to reduce regional Army HQs which each consisted of a very small number of individuals; ultimately didn't reduce them much and just renamed them; and introduced JFC, a new monster HQ, and other new commands. So while the count of HQs went down (very slightly), the number of stars and HQ posts increased substantially.
 
NATO Military Committee is a big deal (Omar Bradley was the first!) but I can't help but think it's a bit nice-to-have.
 

Latest Threads

Top