Army Officers quit in record numbers - So, what eh, PM?

#1
Mick Smith in the Sunday Times writes up a subject discussed widely on ARRSE over the last two years.

Times Online webpage

The army has suffered an unprecedented exodus of more than 1,300 officers in the past six months amid anger about government cost-cutting and equipment shortages.

The number quitting is more than double the rate in the previous 12 months and will add to pressure on Gordon Brown about the way his government is funding the armed services.

Many of those who have resigned their commissions are from frontline units. Most are captains or majors with invaluable experience of battle.

“The loss of a whole swathe of middle-ranking officers will leave us struggling to find the top quality generals of the future,” said one senior officer. “But it is clear the government does not care and would be happy to see the army reduced to a token force.”

One officer, who put in his 12-months’ notice last month, said the reason most were leaving was that the army felt “undermanned, undervalued and underfunded”.

...

The new figures, released last week by the Ministry of Defence (MoD), show the criticisms are shared by serving officers. A total of 1,344 army officers have left in the past six months alone, more than 100% up on last year’s rate and close to three times the figure for 2004-05. Since the Iraq war, the army has lost 5,790 officers, recruiting only 4,500 to replace them. It now has more than 200 too few majors – a rank in which it was traditionally overstaffed.

The Parachute Regiment has lost nine officers in the past few months, all quitting in disgust at the lack of resources and poor treatment of soldiers and their families.
Will somebody please explain in small words to the Prime Minister and the still (as in does nothing) part-time SoS Defence just how terrible these figures are.

I fully expect to see Brown, Browne, Ainsworth or Twigg later today, rubbishing the figures, reaffirming their commitment to the Armed Forces and telling anyone who will listen, how everything is okay and how we are increasing defence spending year on year.

Too late Gordon & Co. Your stewardship of the Armed Forces and understanding of the issues is without precedent in modern history.

If only a general election had been called in October - but the current administration could probably see then the sheer voume of bad news they would have to bury during the campaign.
 
#2
Our 'glorious leader', elected by the Labour Party, not the people, and charged with the stewardship of this Nation's security, is ineptly stumbling from one defence and security crisis to another like a blind drunk having a stroke on a bouncy castle!

The last Tsar of All the Russias was more in touch with his Armed Forces than Gordon Brown, who I sincerely hope will resign to spend more time with his family at the earliest possible opportunity!

Thank god only officers can quite so easily or this Nation’s defence would be in the hands of the Captains of our Trident carrying submarine fleet!
 
#3
Your not wrong, he will say that he has seen figures which show that morale is as high as it can be, defence spending is up and he has enormous respect and gratitude for the Armed Forces!

We all know that he is a lying c*nt and i dont trust a word he says, any man that can spend more on foreign schools than his own nations defence is a to**er!
 
#5
the forces, like other public departments, is being screwed. Doctors, teachers, policemen, soldiers etc...the govt (and largely the public) doesn't give a fcuk until it directly affects them....

...as the bloke in the street who is in i'm a celebrity get me out of here, or the latest story line in corrie/enders they'll give you an accurate dit....ask them to name 2 of the 5 former CDSs whjo lambasted the govt and they'll look at you blankly....

sadly comrades, it was ever thus, you think we've got it bad? chat to our fathers generation who fought in korea and aden...they'll tell you the same
 
#6
One of the great dilemma for the Army is that the whole ethos is to be cheerful in adversity and to crack on with the kit that is available. That is what professionalism, leadership and pride is all about. Thus if you ask a soldier in an operational theatre if he is *happy* he will say it's magic and he is there to do a job. The worse the conditions are - the less likely he is to give a straight answer. This stoic endurance is right at the heart of what makes the British soldier a great asset. BUT: To confuse those types of apocraphyl exchanges with evidence of real satisfaction / high morale is madness.
 
#7
duffdike said:
One of the great dilemma for the Army is that the whole ethos is to be cheerful in adversity and to crack on with the kit that is available. That is what professionalism, leadership and pride is all about. Thus if you ask a soldier in an operational theatre if he is *happy* he will say it's magic and he is there to do a job. The worse the conditions are - the less likely he is to give a straight answer. This stoic endurance is right at the heart of what makes the British soldier a great asset. BUT: To confuse those types of apocraphyl exchanges with evidence of real satisfaction / high morale is madness.
Target. Stop.
 
#8
PE4rocks said:
duffdike said:
One of the great dilemma for the Army is that the whole ethos is to be cheerful in adversity and to crack on with the kit that is available. That is what professionalism, leadership and pride is all about. Thus if you ask a soldier in an operational theatre if he is *happy* he will say it's magic and he is there to do a job. The worse the conditions are - the less likely he is to give a straight answer. This stoic endurance is right at the heart of what makes the British soldier a great asset. BUT: To confuse those types of apocraphyl exchanges with evidence of real satisfaction / high morale is madness.
Target. Stop.
The worm is turning and it isn't pretty. Such a shame because we will never have such valuable (yet undervalued and taken for granted by this Government) qualities again.
 
#9
I strongly believe that the proliferation of military appointments in MoD Main, and other MoD support organisations, has contributed towards the current Govt perception that outflow of officers is not a problem.

I am sure that this supposed parity between civil servants and military, and the infiltration of MSF appointments by both CS and external candidates, has given rise to the belief that these officers are easily replaceable.

In addition the persistent gapping of mil posts without any apparent effect and the fact that the MoD has dealt with all budgetary cuts through a salami-slicing' approach, rather than going back to the Treasury and asking 'which of these capabilities do you wish to permanently remove, has contributed to the current crisis.

The effect is a hollowing out of capability, both in manpower, equipment and doctrinal terms, and although the apple (Defence) still looks very shiny and healthy on the exterior, the worm (Treasury) has ensured that the core has virtually gone and the chances of re-seeding the tree (Forces) diminishing by the day.
 
R

really?_fascinating

Guest
#11
Bit, like an avalanche, is it possible to stop the slide now it is happening? What would convince someone that being prepared to risk thier lives is no longer worth it to change their minds?

We do not do it for cash or baubles but for personal reasons of self worth, being valued by our peers and personal pride. Once an individual has decided the country cannot repay the sacrifice, how can we keep that person in? Money won't do it, platitudes and suddenly brave peers won't help.

For me, having come to the very hard decision that the time is right to leave, and made that leap of faith, telling friends and family I am going NOTHING would now undo the damage.

Perhaps we write off my generation and concentrate on young Captains and Lieutenants - they are the future. Enough mediocre Majors and Colonels will sty to muddle through, get the best and brightest working on keeping tomorrows COs engaged.
 
#12
Counter-Bluffer-Ops said:
The effect is a hollowing out of capability, both in manpower, equipment and doctrinal terms, and although the apple (Defence) still looks very shiny and healthy on the exterior, the worm (Treasury) has ensured that the core has virtually gone and the chances of re-seeding the tree (Forces) diminishing by the day.
Ooooh, that's good. You'll go far (if you havent done so already).
 
#13
really?_fascinating said:
We do not do it for cash or baubles but for personal reasons of self worth, being valued by our peers and personal pride. Once an individual has decided the country cannot repay the sacrifice, how can we keep that person in? Money won't do it, platitudes and suddenly brave peers won't help.
You've hit the nail on the head RF. I sacked it recently and am now earning much less than I was a few months ago having decided enough's enough - but the job satisfaction & sense of being valued in my new civvy career makes that OK. Which is why I used to love being a soldier.

Nobody (in their right mind) soldiers for the money - which is why it's a vocation not just a job. No wonder career politicians with snouts in the trough - and massive personal agendas - can't identify with the military ethos.
 
#14
Bambi said:
really?_fascinating said:
We do not do it for cash or baubles but for personal reasons of self worth, being valued by our peers and personal pride. Once an individual has decided the country cannot repay the sacrifice, how can we keep that person in? Money won't do it, platitudes and suddenly brave peers won't help.
You've hit the nail on the head RF. I sacked it recently and am now earning much less than I was a few months ago having decided enough's enough - but the job satisfaction & sense of being valued in my new civvy career makes that OK. Which is why I used to love being a soldier.

Nobody (in their right mind) soldiers for the money - which is why it's a vocation not just a job. No wonder career politicians with snouts in the trough - and massive personal agendas - can't identify with the military ethos.
Disagree slightly. Politicians are already set up for life, yet they seem to enjoy hanging around making our lives a misery.
 
#15
Think everyone that has posted is in general support of the point being made.

Anyone care to illustrate what this actually means in terms of their operational experience / impact on Ops, etc?

Or, is the wearing of multiple hats now so endemic as to hide over-stretch?
 
#16
Bambi said:
really?_fascinating said:
We do not do it for cash or baubles but for personal reasons of self worth, being valued by our peers and personal pride. Once an individual has decided the country cannot repay the sacrifice, how can we keep that person in? Money won't do it, platitudes and suddenly brave peers won't help.
You've hit the nail on the head RF. I sacked it recently and am now earning much less than I was a few months ago having decided enough's enough - but the job satisfaction & sense of being valued in my new civvy career makes that OK. Which is why I used to love being a soldier.

Nobody (in their right mind) soldiers for the money - which is why it's a vocation not just a job. No wonder career politicians with snouts in the trough - and massive personal agendas - can't identify with the military ethos.
Thirded! Could not have put it better. My pay now way less than what I got as a non-grad lewie, but hell.. it beats all the crap of being constantly bludgeoned by the 'yes-men' destined for the top through mediocrity.

It is a strange feeling for anyone recently on the outside of the wire, you can't help but look back in... I loved my job and I so wish I could have carried on, but the weight on ones shoulders due to all the things said above was too much. Look at Col Tootal, he's in the same boat! I don't think there's a single CO who would not have wanted to be CO of a Para Batt in an ideal world! (well funded, fully tooled up, well looked after Army)
 
#17
Speaking as one of those in the "leaving bracket", I can only agree with those who are PVRing. Being triple hatted in jobs, whilst seeing Civil Servants knocking off and working to rule, not seeing much of my family, the constant threat of trawls all the time; it all adds to the pressure to leave. Basic reasons is that I can earn more in civvy strasse, have more stability, and get compensated properly when the job impingines on my personal life. More developed reason is that I see the Army as being utterly run ragged by this Government, tied up in red tape by the MOD Civil Servants, when what is needed is a complete "leaning" of the whole system.

On other fora on this site, there are the constant anecdotal accounts of those working in the DEC and DE&S worlds who are being hamstrung in their delivery of operational capability by some pretty poor quality Civvies working in those worlds. Anyone notice how it's always the military posts that get cut in favour of retaining the dead weight of civilians?

To balance this out slightly, I have some outstandingly good civil servants working for me, who are bright, educated, show bags of initiative, and high degrees of competence - trying to get them recognised for this and promoted is nigh on impossible, as we are always trying to "be fair" to everyone.
 
#18
Spanner said:
To balance this out slightly, I have some outstandingly good civil servants working for me, who are bright, educated, show bags of initiative, and high degrees of competence - trying to get them recognised for this and promoted is nigh on impossible, as we are always trying to "be fair" to everyone.
.........and it's this concept of fairness that blights everything in the MoD, inc recruitment, the allocation of bonus payments, promotion, and worst of all, dismissal. It's virtually impossible to recruit exactly who one wants, as 'competences' are seen as more important than skills, and everybody has competences whereas very few have proveable skills; the bonus system is highly divisive as the MoD has not got the balls to institute either a system whereby only the top performers get all of the bonus or everybody gets a bonus based on achieving organisational targets, but remains with the current system whereby nearly everybody gets a bonus regardless of performance (and in which the line manager can no longer decide who is worthy and this decision is left to a cohort of neutral no-hopers). Promotion is run on a system whereby, regardless of one's skill level and aptitude, one must go through the same life-sapping dreary process as the least competent candidates.

And then, dismissal. It is virtually impossible to get rid of under-performers. The dismissal process is so tortuous and labrynthine that most managers accept the status quo and reallocate the work elsewhere, rather than put themselves through a paper-heavy form of Dantes Inferno.

And finally drawing all of this together is the prevailing culture that process is more important than output; the tsunami-sized volumes of regulation that cannot be deviated from, and staff that do not understand enough of the businesss to deviate from them even if they so desired; and the dead-hand of ministerial interference in the minutae of departmental business instead of looking ahead strategically, providing top cover for the organisation, and fighting for sufficient resource and freedom of manouevre to enable us to perform effectively.

Apart from that I am pretty much content.

CBO
 

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