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Would you intensively coach an equivalent number of educationally-challenged teenagers through 3 x A Levels to achieve the same number of successful Intelligence Corps soldiers? In the name of meritocracy, social mobility, expanding horizons, fostering potential?
I might be biased on that one, having gone to QVS. They took pad brats (at the time, ORs kids - no officers' children, bar LE) whose education had been severely disrupted; I had averaged just over a school per year on arrival, most kids had averaged three or four schools by age 10.

They gave us small classes and mostly-dedicated teachers; class sizes always under twenty, we had some classes of six or fewer by Higher Grade, because a lot left after age 16. The end result was above-average results at SCE exams. Some of us joined HM Armed Forces, lots didn't, there was no compulsion (other than lots of SNCO parents going "get yourself to University, and career options, not the Forces like me").

There's a retiring Major-General, a recently retired Brigadier (and a Colonel, a Lieutenant Colonel, a Squadron Leader, a Lieutenant-Commander, several others from Cpl to Capt) from the year-group above me - from 40 boys taken on at age 9/10. Expensive? Yes. Worthwhile? Maybe. But it also meant that SNCOs felt that their kids were being taken care of; how much additional return of service did that generate?
 
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Really? That's precisely why RoCo was binned.
Yes, but RMAS (like the Army) has done many things, claiming that the basis for the decision was "cost". It doesn't mean that the cost, or the value, was actually understood.

So; outsourcing recruitment to Capita ("reduced costs!"), getting rid of Junior Leaders ("reduced costs!"), cutting back commissioning course places for the Reserves ("costs!"), trying to shut down the TA for six months ("we'll save £9m!"), binning RowCo ("too expensive!"). On a larger scale, handing off RAF in-flight refuelling to a PFI ("more affordable!").
 
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Caecilius

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
I know this is an aside from the subject at hand, but... it should be easy for you to name one, then ;) In your own time, go on...
Yup. Battle for Tora Bora. Large parts of that required insertion by foot over mountains with no routes for vehicles. You already mentioned CLARET, but that was smaller scale. Also large sections of the Chindit operations.

Despite those examples, I think your question is genuinely daft. We make great play out of generals 'fighting the last war' but you're essentially arguing that we don't have to worry about infantry fitness standards because you can't think, off the top of your head, of a battle that hasn't had at least one vehicle. That's not how this works - we train for a reasonable worst case scenario, and there is a serious possibility of us fighting battles in places where we can't get tractors or other vehicles.

JWIC and the ranger course exist for a reason.
 

napier

LE
Moderator
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Pack Animals
Looks like a vehicle to me. It must be, it has a driver (that's where the term comes from, after all) ;)

Yup. Battle for Tora Bora. Large parts of that required insertion by foot over mountains with no routes for vehicles. You already mentioned CLARET, but that was smaller scale. Also large sections of the Chindit operations.
So, no vehicles apart from the helicopters, gliders, aircraft dropping supplies...

It's interesting you mention the Chindits, given Slim's opinion that properly-worked-up battalions could have done the job, just as well as specially-selected units that stripped entire Divisions of their best people.

Note that while CLARET was dismounted, they were careful to stay within range of artillery and mortar fire support. Vehicle-resupplied fire support, that is.

you're essentially arguing that we don't have to worry about infantry fitness standards because you can't think, off the top of your head, of a battle that hasn't had at least one vehicle.
Nope. We obviously have to worry about infantry fitness standards. The point I'm trying to make is that there comes a point where using "must carry everything" becomes absurd. "Everyone must be able to carry 80kg across country, all day, or they aren't real infantry, because you never know! The vehicles won't be available, they'll have to carry everything!". Looking at the loads that were routinely being carried on HERRICK patrols, I suspect that most WW2 line infantry would have been amazed (Project PAYNE applies). I mean, it's impressive, but is it sensible? Do the enemy get defeated by it? Does it work?

Standards should be set sensibly (not every battalion can be as fit as PARA/RM/SF; not every platoon will be as fit as the Close Recce, or as good with load as the MMG Platoon), and reflect that a fitness test is not necessarily a match to a fitness standard. For example:
  • Pre-1982, the Army was mechanised, no-one was really tabbing very far, and fitness was perceived/displayed for most by the BFT - the racing snakes ruled.
  • Post-1982, load-bearing and digging ability was seen as equally significant - "yeah, but you're shit with load" was a rejoinder by those who couldn't run fast.
So yes, you can insist that all infantry soldiers should always be as fit as the Paras are now. And you'll end up with a much smaller infantry. Or we can accept that yes, fitness will vary, and we've set a level that is high enough to allow us to carry out exercisable tasks, overmatch our likely enemies, and still fill our vacant slots.
 

Caecilius

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
So, no vehicles apart from the helicopters, gliders, aircraft dropping supplies...
I'm struggling to tell if you're being serious here, or deliberately being disingenuous.

Infrequent resupply from vehicles doesn't remove the need to manpack significant loads between those drops. Troops in Vietnam occasionally ran low on supplies for upwards of a week because they couldn't be resupplied.

It's interesting you mention the Chindits, given Slim's opinion that properly-worked-up battalions could have done the job, just as well as specially-selected units that stripped entire Divisions of their best people.

This is exactly my point. All light infantry need to be able to crack these tasks, not just specialist units.

Note that while CLARET was dismounted, they were careful to stay within range of artillery and mortar fire support. Vehicle-resupplied fire support, that is.
Firstly this is untrue. Some of the operations were significantly deeper. Secondly, so what? Infantry still have to be dismounted even if their fire support can still reach them 20km away.

Or we can accept that yes, fitness will vary, and we've set a level that is high enough to allow us to carry out exercisable tasks, overmatch our likely enemies, and still fill our vacant slots.
Everyone else on the thread appears to accept this except you... Your starting point was that the standard doesn't need to be as high as it is because you'll always have vehicles and you can just put the unfit people into A1 echelon.

Is your position now that everyone needs to meet the basic phys standards?
 
This is exactly my point. All light infantry need to be able to crack these tasks, not just specialist units.
Careful, there. By mentioning "light" infantry, you might be misinterpreted as suggesting that the more dismounted infantry units are in more physical roles, and correspondingly that some are in... less physical roles.

Everyone else on the thread appears to accept this except you... Your starting point was that the standard doesn't need to be as high as it is because you'll always have vehicles and you can just put the unfit people into A1 echelon.
Seriously, where did I say that?

I merely pointed out that even in the war held up as the exemplar of the need to "manpack everything, because you can't rely on vehicles", it was impossible to do without vehicles; and that without the civvy farmers (including a woman and a 16-year-old boy) and their vehicles helping up to A1 Ech, the Battle for Mount Longdon looks a lot less likely to succeed. I'm not trying to say that there isn't a need to carry heavy kit, I'm trying to say that "Mongo carry absolutely everything!" is impossible.

I also pointed out that the Scots Guards were demonstrably "fit enough" to carry Tumbledown, even if they weren't as physically fit as the Paras / Marines. That's not to say that they couldn't have been fitter, and I'm not saying that they wouldn't have passed the fitness standards of the day (they would), it's just a statement of the incredibly bleeding obvious.
 
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I merely pointed out that even in the war held up as the exemplar of the need to "manpack everything, because you can't rely on vehicles", it was impossible to do without vehicles; and that without the civvy farmers (including a woman and a 16-year-old boy) and their vehicles helping up to A1 Ech, the Battle for Mount Longdon looks a lot less likely to succeed.
I met one of the guys that was driving. I think he had been a headmaster? Anyway he alluded to his role being a guide...ish as opposed to moving large amounts of kit about.
I also pointed out that the Scots and Welsh Guards were demonstrably "fit enough" to carry Tumbledown, even if they weren't as physically fit as the Paras / Marines. That's not to say that they couldn't have been fitter, and I'm not saying that they wouldn't have passed the fitness standards of the day (they would), it's just a statement of the incredibly bleeding obvious.
FoC
 

Caecilius

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
, I'm trying to say that "Mongo carry absolutely everything!" is impossible.

And that's just not true. It's hard and definitely sub-optimal, but it's happened multiple times in recent history. The Falklands, Claret, Burma, Tora Bora and Vietnam all saw dismounted infantry needing to man pack significant kit for extended periods. That they may or may not have had vehicles and artillery for some of that period doesn't change that.
 

Kefi

Old-Salt
Careful, there. By mentioning "light" infantry, you might be misinterpreted as suggesting that the more dismounted infantry units are in more physical roles, and correspondingly that some are in... less physical roles.



Seriously, where did I say that?

I merely pointed out that even in the war held up as the exemplar of the need to "manpack everything, because you can't rely on vehicles", it was impossible to do without vehicles; and that without the civvy farmers (including a woman and a 16-year-old boy) and their vehicles helping up to A1 Ech, the Battle for Mount Longdon looks a lot less likely to succeed. I'm not trying to say that there isn't a need to carry heavy kit, I'm trying to say that "Mongo carry absolutely everything!" is impossible.

I also pointed out that the Scots Guards were demonstrably "fit enough" to carry Tumbledown, even if they weren't as physically fit as the Paras / Marines. That's not to say that they couldn't have been fitter, and I'm not saying that they wouldn't have passed the fitness standards of the day (they would), it's just a statement of the incredibly bleeding obvious.

You are clutching at straws mate, let it go & concede that all Inf men in HMF need to be 100% on their fitness to do the hardest job in the world in its worst case scenario.
 

Brotherton Lad

LE
Kit Reviewer
You are clutching at straws mate, let it go & concede that all Inf men in HMF need to be 100% on their fitness to do the hardest job in the world in its worst case scenario.
Except they very rarely are all at 100%.
 
Yes, but RMAS (like the Army) has done many things, claiming that the basis for the decision was "cost". It doesn't mean that the cost, or the value, was actually understood.

So; outsourcing recruitment to Capita ("reduced costs!"), getting rid of Junior Leaders ("reduced costs!"), cutting back commissioning course places for the Reserves ("costs!"), trying to shut down the TA for six months ("we'll save £9m!"), binning RowCo ("too expensive!"). On a larger scale, handing off RAF in-flight refuelling to a PFI ("more affordable!").
I agree with you unreservedly on that, although this is the only point you're making here where I do - actually the only one where I agree with you at all.

My point was simply that you claimed "I've not heard anyone claim that the additional costs weren't worth it ...". Well, you may not have heard it but that was the reason for the decision to end RoCo. It cost 500k per year, Comdt RMAS was told to cut costs, so RoCo went.
 
  • Pre-1982, the Army was mechanised, no-one was really tabbing very far, and fitness was perceived/displayed for most by the BFT - the racing snakes ruled.
  • Post-1982, load-bearing and digging ability was seen as equally significant - "yeah, but you're shit with load" was a rejoinder by those who couldn't run fast.
Maybe in a TA Home Defence Bn. Utter cock for the rest of the Army (where two-thirds weren't mechanised).
 

Kefi

Old-Salt
Except they very rarely are all at 100%.
Don't be so negative, it's all about pushing the boundary's & continually uping the game. Not all will reach the same standards, some will be fast & others polders, not a problem as long as best efforts are being made.
The pedant in me says that @Kefi said 100% on fitness as opposed to at 100% ie the best the can be at the time.
It's funny that in a debate how easy it is for the other side to twist what someone is trying to say, your post is the correct meaning of my point, so thanks for that:1:
 
Maybe in a TA Home Defence Bn. Utter cock for the rest of the Army (where two-thirds weren't mechanised).
Really? And what were they issued to carry these loads for their long-distance tabs, pre-1982? Because the GS Bergen wasn't exactly widespread outside NI, and I seem to recall the issued kit being the 58 pattern large pack...

...Brecon was sending out course joining instructions which indicated that troops should expect to operate with belt order of 35lbs minimum. Which rather tends to indicate that a lot of "the rest of the Army" wasn't training to that standard on a permanent basis...
 
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