Army 2020 Poll: Is it achievable?

Discussion in 'House of Commons' started by DOT, Jun 5, 2013.

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  1. *


    61 vote(s)
  2. *


    342 vote(s)
  3. Undecided

    34 vote(s)
  1. DOT

    DOT Old-Salt SME

    The new structure of the Army set out in the MoD publication, “Transforming the British Army” consists of a Reaction Force and an Adaptable Force.

    · The Reaction Force: a high readiness force (predominantly made up of Regular forces with about 10% being Reservists) which will undertake short notice contingency tasks and provide the conventional deterrence for Defence. It will be based upon three Armoured Infantry brigades under a divisional headquarters with associated enablers and an Air Assault brigade will provide the basis for any future enduring operation.

    · The Adaptable Force: a pool of Regular and Reserve forces organised during peacetime under seven regionally based Infantry Brigade Headquarters for training and administrative purposes. For a given operation a force package will be selected from across the pool of forces based on the balance of capabilities required for that specific task. The seven Infantry Brigade headquarters will come under command of an outward looking divisional headquarters and Headquarters Support Command which will provide and control for homeland resilience and engagement with UK society.

    Question: Keeping the structure above in mind, is Army 2020 achievable?
  2. The reliance on reserves is always questionable. As an example of myself, I served from 05-11 and joined the lovely world of the private sector. Obviously I cannot speak for everyone but personally my view is I've done my time and I have no interest in joining the TA, on a mercenary note the pay would not entice me to volunteer either as I can make more putting in some overtime. Like I say I cannot speak for everyone but I imagine there are probably quite a lot more service leavers who are happy to walk away and never look back.

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  3. Vampireuk. The reliance on reserves for the defence of the UK was implict in the set up of the TF in 1908, along with a requirement to add some units to the strength of BEF for a war in Europe. So UK Land Forces have always "relied" on the TF/TA to some extent in a General/Full War event...............
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  4. I'm aware of the role of reserves at the moment but the focus of 2020 seems to be putting an even greater focus upon them. The question isn't whether they are up to the task, its whether there will be enough of them available.

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  5. I believe the reliance on the reserve/TA whateve we are calling them will be the sticking point. We are paying people to leave, and hoping that many of them will take on the golden hello into the TA.
    Personally when I walk out of the gates (in 16 working days time) I'm only coming back to hand my ID card in. Of all the others in my unit who have served their time/signed off, only one is considering the TA as he thinks he can get his commision out of it.

    I do not doubt the ability of the modern TA having worked with plenty on my last two tours. A few years ago the idea of using the TA in large numbers was laughable.
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  6. My relevant experience from a military aspect is severely limited as confined to a short time in the TA, when my Regiment was cadred, when I was pointed to the OTC. later, finding my first employer was 1) not supportive of my having two bosses, 2) demanded my availability to keep a 24/7 supervision of the chemical plant I ran, and 3) by the age of 25 paid me the same salary as an Infantry Major of the time as compensation for that; my TA involvement ceased.

    But I do hold expertise to tackle a part of the question. It is not military, it is my having worked through a variety of employing organisations and having seen quantum change in the overall employer/employee pattern.

    I suspect the successful mechanics of 2020 may be threatened by over-optimism.

    When I "were that lad" at 25, there were large trenches of employers who saw part of their job as to look after their employees, and many saw a public service, if they were not one, as part of their company ethos.

    These firms actively supported sports and social clubs, some even still supplied accommodation for employees, and they actively supported their employees out of work in such interests as being on call for a local fire service, working with St John Ambulance, or indeed in the TA, the Cadet Forces, Scouting and other youth orgganisations).

    In my later Cadeting days, there was always a good proportion of adults well supported in their hobby from the state-linked organisations such as local councils, the utility companies, and the Post Office, and our local TA units also reflected this.

    Added to those were again a fair proportion from large companies, who were run by experts in the business they ran, and directly employed many tens of thousands of people to carry out most of what they did. Many examples of those exist, such as ICI and Pilkington Glass, and the Defence Supply organisations.

    Indeed, my employer accepted my own need for a vastly larger office, due to my twin demands of work and Cadet Unit Admin!

    Many of those organisations now employ vastly fewer people directly and now use contract personnel or companies on contract (see below).

    Had a similar development of the TA been looked at at that stage, I think the ethos of 2020 would have carried the day.

    There has certainly been success with some employers in releasing their personnel for tours over recent years, but the question to me is:

    Is is now statistically valid to extrapolate the recent successes in employer co-operation and support to scale them up to the average employer in the average city?

    A. For example, medics and nurses have been a fair proportion of those who have been released for tours? This group are rather special, in that a "Houseman Grade X" or an "emergency nurse grade Y" come from roles which are standard through the NHS, and you lose one, you simply pick the best of a dozen people with the same training, and all can potentially work in any A&E, for examnple, in the nation, so you have no cover problems. Secondly, Hospital Trusts recognise that what their people will learn on tour is of very direct benefit to what they will do in their job when they return.

    B. Referring to my list of those who were good and public spirited employers in the past, all are now downsized, and all use contract labour or conract services far more than before. These "base employers" may be as willing (though in the financial climate I think even this remains a question), to release some of the core employees they have retained, but are there enough core employees who will not be seen as indispensable to meet targets?

    C. Related, but slightly seperate, is that most employers don't any more work to a strict pattern of grades or rank as understood in the services and defence areas of employment, but are largely "each man for himself" in making his mark, and even with guarantees of no drop in position or income from a deployment, I am sure the fear will be "who will get the next promotion whilst I'm away." Will our man trust it is the one committed to the nation or judge it as the one committed to the company?

    D) And will the labour contracting companies, primarily skilled in finance, and now having such a high proportion of "employees" have any view beyond the next contract? Their attitude on average I suspect will be to say "do what you like Mr or Miss employee, when your contract finishes with us," and "if the work is available on your return please do contact us"

    My suspicions may be incorrect, but I suspect planning projections may have been based on existing and undeniable successes in the recent past: where many deployed have been supported by employers who see very direct advantage to skills increase; many job types have been interchangeable one guy to another so cover is not a problem; those employed by MoD itself; and those employed by firms who feel it appropriate as contractors to MoD be seen to co-operate.

    But does that extrapolation work to include the average organisation now who indirectly employ most of their work force on short term contract, to the medium sized company who need to teach someone to do a job whilst our man or woman is away; or the small company who is trying to concentrate on survival and profit whilst it might well be the best of their employees who wish to vanish for exended time?

    As a separate but related issue, if I have employed someone who has retired from the services, will I not feel he needs to show me for his first few years he is committed to my work, and will he not feel he needs to concentrate upomn his second career at least for the first few years?

    My suspicion is that targets may be set high for realistic expectation, and that the saving grace, if there is one, may only be the vast flow of unemployed graduates. This has an advantage of numbers, but will they have a good skill set and potential and if they are making the services their second choice, is that good?
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  7. If TA TACOS and employer culture can be adjusted to compel TA soldiers to turn up and train when the Army needs them for the amount of time needed, in order to build collective competence in integrated (Regular/TA) military units as part of a training and readiness cycle, then yes it may work.

    If the Adaptable Forces are sustained only at a very low level of collective training, they will lose the ability (through loss of corporate knowledge and experience) to be able to train up to higher levels of collective training/competence when they are needed.

    Edited to add: On the basis that the government probably lacks the will and ability to make the changes to the TA TACOS and that such necessary changes (including introduction of or improvement to: pensions, employer incentives, bounties, etc.) will make the TA as or more expensive than regular soldiers, but will deliver much less capability, I have voted No. Frankly Army 2020 (in particular the TA integration piece) is impractical and will probably prove impossible.

    I am a regular teeth arms officer with around 15 years commissioned service.
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  8. If the Regular Army understands that it needs to change, or it will be forced to be changed.
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  9. Auld-Yin

    Auld-Yin LE Reviewer Book Reviewer Reviews Editor

    I voted No. I think that the criteria mentioned is not achievable if the measure of success relies on the TA element being the backbone of the strategy. By its very nature the TA is a bit of an unknown and to achieve the aims will require a complete turn round in thinking from the Regulars, the TA themselves, but more importantly from the civvy elements of the UK who have to buy in to this concept. The first two will be extremely difficult as both side are almost diametrically opposed in their thought processes and where priorities lie. Not insurmountable with good strong leadership. Changing the attitude of civilian employers is so far outside the MoD powers that it is not a part that can be accurately calculated but I feel with modern society being basically non military in outlook that there is little chance of changing attitudes that will permit recruiting and training a large TA.

    having said that, I have no doubt that in a few years the criteria mentioned above will have moved, changed or disappeared and some CDS will declare success!
  10. I would imagine that UK reservists are more skilled than the majority of rag tag armies thrown together today.

    If the reservist are used wisely (Ie not expected to perform specialist well honed operations) then that will allow the regular soldiers to perform the skilled tasks whilst the reservists shore up the ranks.

    I think we have a really good basis for a reactionary force, Marines and Para's are some of the finest troops in the world. Our artillery and regulars backed up with Apache and when Typhoon can deliver CAS is formidable backed up by Logistics and Reservists to keep the thing running.

    I think it will work.
  11. I voted no -
    The project is ill thought out, because its built on a huge unstable pile of untested assumptions.
    Firstly, yes, you CAN build a 'New Model' Reserve if the TACOS are good enough. Pay enough peanuts, you'll get enough monkeys.
    No, you can't assume it will be deployable
    No, you can't count on the retention
    No, the pool of recruits is not unlimited. There's a worldwide demographic bulge-Youngsters aren't as thick on the ground as they used to be.
    No, the laid off Regulars will not flock to the TA.
    No, the Regular Army is not ready in mind or spirit to put in the effort to bring the TA up to scratch.
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  12. Bad CO

    Bad CO LE Admin Reviews Editor Gallery Guru

    I voted yes even though I think the Reserves/TA element of A2020 is an utter cluster, and will not deliver as is currently planned/expected/briefed for the sort of reasons that have already been mentioned on this thread.

    However, the very limited part of the TA included in the RF (4 Para, etc) are already well enough recruited and will be provided with the resources they need (equipment, training, etc) to achieve what is required to integrate with their regular compatriots.

    The rest of the Army, both regular and TA, that makes up the AF will have a much less demanding task. Not only that but it will have a huge lead time before it is required to do anything exciting and a large number of bodies with which to force generate.

    The sad part of this of course is that if you're member of a regular unit in the AF then your life is going to be pretty dull
  13. This is such bollocks - it's as dull and unreasoning as "Sack all Civil Service Penpushers". What do you think A2020 is if not a massive change programme? Do you not think that this was the Army's attempt to craft something useful out of the omnishambles of "make billions of savings out of the non-vote winning bits of Govt expenditure". Do you not think that the NEM and the attempt to do something with the Reserves (despite not owning the levers that will really make it work - employer support, legislation and money) is a bit of a significant change? It's been nothing but change since I joined 22 years ago - structures, supporting organisations, TACOS, uniform, kit, ways of doing business - it goes on and on. Yet we're always accused of being unable to change. The sense of permanent crisis and never-ending change is sapping. What's needed is a chance to let one set of sweeping changes bed in. The simplistic classifying of concerns* as "Regulars resistant to change" hampers genuine professional concerns being given proper consideration and gives politicians who are not being honest about the risk being carried some form of apparently informed top cover.

    * Such as binning a good slice of the Regular force structure before you've proved that the reserve capability to mitigate that loss will be able to conduct all the tasks that will be attributed to it.
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  14. I always thought there was a planning factor that in any mass mobilisation, only 1/3 TA would turn up. Does that mean the 30k reservists should have been 90k, or that HMG only expect to use 10k - in which case they cannot replace in any way shape or form the amount of regulars being chopped.
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  15. As a bit of a planner, though not in military areas I do pick up the logic of your argument, Bad CO, for such as 4PARA , in that "lead time" is not a vital factor. Previous deployment of medical units has similarly been of the most motivated and already nearest skilled to their likely task?

    We may measure the Plan for 2020 as we see things today, this week or maybe this year, but must its success not depend also on it also being realistic, with high reliability and adaptability to change in circumstances.

    Over the last 120 years history, we have seldom had even a few years notice of locaion or even "type" of deployment needed, so is lead time if not number one priority, then at least among the top few when we assess the risk to desired project outcome?

    I cannot accept what I see as the bland assumption of politicians that as they don't want wars, they won't happen around them.

    For planning success surely the overall plan success needs a good confidence level that "lead time" for the majority of manpower to adapt and deploy to a situation which occurs should match or better than as presently available in the 2013 Army?

    From a planning standpoint good risk management of such a project would would require high confidence that a spot check on any day during the project, would find the "lead time" for a given need scenario to remain overall unchanged from what currently exists?

    Having been involved with social services for the young and with the elderly over many years, and
    seeing the Arny change, albeit from the outside, I think StandardIssue has a major point.

    Simplistic example - If you look how The Army changed its usual practices before OP Banner to cope with that, ran a war 7900 miles away in the cold and on to sandy places? On a micro scale look at the development of casualty treatment or ATO facilities and skills since the start of OP BANNER?

    Look at Social Services? Child Care was to change entirely with the Children Act 1989? 24 years?
    How many major scandals in 2012 alone? Simply because practice has not yet changed enough!

    How about hospital care standards? Even the Quality Agency to monitor what goes on is at present in the deepest through lack of change of attitudes and practice!

    A real cynic would ask about Border Control under whatever name it chooses to run these days.

    I suspect the Army would score high from any decent change manager compared with those.