Army shortfall as number of soldiers leaving soar

oldbaldy

LE
Moderator
#1
Scottish Daily Herald

More than 4900 trained soldiers voted with their feet and left the Army before their enlistments were up in the 12 months to March this year, while just 4000 raw recruits signed up to replace them, The Herald can reveal.

The numbers opting for early release from the infantry have more than doubled on a month-by-month basis from an average of between 130 and 160 in 2005-06 to an average of about 400 in 2006-07. The continuing exodus means that frontline units such as the infantry are now between 3000 and 4000 below fighting strength and continuing to haemorrhage the experienced majors, captains, sergeants and corporals they can least afford to lose.

Detailed statistics seen by The Herald show that recruitment and retention worsened by the equivalent of one and a half battalions at a time when commitments in Afghanistan are about to increase to around 8000 men and 5000 troops are still in Iraq.
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The Ministry of Defence claims that accurate figures for "voluntary outflow" and manning comparisons will not be available until 2008 because of problems with a new IT system.

But The Herald has obtained a monthly breakdown of both entry and voluntary outflow exit numbers. The "VO" system was rebranded last year from its previous designation as "premature voluntary retirement".

The MoD recently launched a new recruitment drive based on television and newspaper adverts for the "One Army" concept of attracting new volunteers for both hard-pressed regular and Territorial units.

The recruitment target for 2007-08 is 13,817 and is due to increase to 14,104 in 2008-09. The Army is also seeking 652 officer cadets by next year and a further 658 by 2009.

North of the border, where the five-battalion Royal Regiment of Scotland is 313 soldiers short of full strength, the MoD has launched an £800,000 advertising campaign to bring in new recruits. More than half of the RRS is to deploy to Afghanistan in the spring as part of a major offensive to break the Taliban's hold on Helmand province.

Even the Parachute Regiment, an elite, three-battalion force which has seldom had to struggle to fill its ranks, is 274 men below its "bayonet strength". The entire regiment, plus TA reinforcements, is also to go to Afghanistan in March.

Brigadier Allan Alstead, a former commander of 51st Highland Brigade, said: "The key to recruiting is pay. It is time our servicemen were paid a wage that reflects the job they do and the dangerous conditions they have to survive in day by day."

The MoD said recruitment was "challenging" and had been "affected by a number of factors, including parental reluctance to allow their children to join the military and the availability of further educational opportunities".
http://www.theherald.co.uk/news/news/display.var.1764747.0.0.php


Looks like someone from the Herald might be having a drink with someone who works not far from their office. :wink:
 
#2
It also looks like Broon's stingy attitude to defence (ie poor pay, poor accomodation and cr@p kit, when you get kit!) is coming home to roost.

Unfortunately, that will NOT impact on Broon. Oh no, he will be too busy worrying how it all went wrong and then blaming someone else. The people it will most affect, as usual, will be the PBI.

Very sad and not a little worrying.
 
#3
This next 12 months will prove critical. Combination of increasing VO and leaving at first option point will leave HMF reeling.

It is not just the pay. Many probs caused by overstretch and basic lack of medical care/ priority.

Nothing that can be fixed easily.

We should not be committing more troops for Afg. We are wrecking our Armed Forces, for what? No other European NATO country is in it up to their necks, why should we be?
 
#4
The MoD said recruitment was "challenging" and had been "affected by a number of factors, including parental reluctance to allow their children to join the military and the availability of further educational opportunities".
Yet again good old Team Deterrence find themselves looking through the wrong end of the telescope. The problem highlighted was retention, not recruiting. Perhaps the quote from the media drone should have read:

"The MoD said retention was "challenging" and had been "affected by a number of factors, including the Govt's refusal to uphold the military covenant, spouse reluctance to allow their husband/wife to remain in the military due to poor pay and housing, and the non-availability of further promotion and advancement opportunities".

CBO
 
#5
sadly its a fact of life its not just overstretch people are being promoted to a position of rank they don't deserve and sadly there life skills show as some one who deployed last year and saw first hand experience of this i don't blame these young lads for voting with there feet some of the seniors i had to take crap from deserved to be frag ed complete morons and when the lead did fly there yellowness showed if you haven't got the experience you shouldn't hold the rank
 
#6
beukyboy said:
sadly its a fact of life its not just overstretch people are being promoted to a position of rank they don't deserve and sadly there life skills show as some one who deployed last year and saw first hand experience of this i don't blame these young lads for voting with there feet some of the seniors i had to take crap from deserved to be frag ed complete morons and when the lead did fly there yellowness showed if you haven't got the experience you shouldn't hold the rank
Why, because they gave you orders? As everyone knows blokes (and girls) are leaving the Army for loads of reasons, mostly sh*t pay and conditions and never seeing their families. I don't think talking about fragging people who tell you what to do is a good approach. Ultimately if you don't like being told what to do you could get yourself promoted or leave. Up to you.
 
#7
oldbaldy said:
Scottish Daily Herald

Brigadier Allan Alstead, a former commander of 51st Highland Brigade, said: "The key to recruiting is pay. It is time our servicemen were paid a wage that reflects the job they do and the dangerous conditions they have to survive in day by day."
The MoD said recruitment was "challenging" and had been "affected by a number of factors, including parental reluctance to allow their children to join the military and the availability of further educational opportunities".
http://www.theherald.co.uk/news/news/display.var.1764747.0.0.php


Looks like someone from the Herald might be having a drink with someone who works not far from their office. :wink:
Well done Sir for speaking the truth of which all subscribers here are well aware.
The second statement from the MOD reflects the reason why. People are paid from the same budget to state such absolute BOLLOX. Pay the soldiers more and get rid of these moronic parasites.
This idea is not new and was predicted in the early 90s before options for change.
:x :x :x
 
#8
beukyboy said:
sadly its a fact of life its not just overstretch people are being promoted to a position of rank they don't deserve and sadly there life skills show as some one who deployed last year and saw first hand experience of this i don't blame these young lads for voting with there feet some of the seniors i had to take crap from deserved to be frag ed complete morons and when the lead did fly there yellowness showed if you haven't got the experience you shouldn't hold the rank
I don't want to have a go at the grammar or spelling but that really is a bone post. Im guessing that you are near the start of you rcareer and as such you may not be privvy to "the big picture". As such some decisions may appear to be baffling but as a soldier you are expected to carry out your duty. This shouldn't reflect on whether or not you want to get out of the Army. I'd warrant that if you can't be told to do something and then be trusted to do it, you are in the wrong job.

As another issue, will throwing money at our guys change things? Any junior's on here want to talk about what the gossip in the cookhouse is and what they would do at grassroots to change things?
 
#9
The key to recruiting is not pay. That sound bite from Brigadier alstead is neither helpful nor illuminating and taken in isolation, as such sound-bites always are prone to be taken, gives a false impression of service people and their values, standards and motivation.

how many people join the mob because of the money? Yes in the past the "package" looked good, once you threw in reasonable quarters/MQs, AT and sport opportunities and added life-style bonuses. Those appear to have been so deteriorated by generations of governments and increasing operational demands, that pay qua pay seems the least of the problems.

You would have to pay people a fortune to get them to willingly submit to an undefined period of 6 months on, 6 months off - unless there was something else, something "other" motivating them. Young soldiers tend not to mind the operational tempo, they like the effect it has on their bank balance, the great parties coming home or going out and the kudos of medals and warry experiences. The problem comes when the JNCOs and SNCOs start to get it in the neck from the DSM, they start to feel the stress of mounting, supervising and recovering troops from ops. Then they are under internal and external pressure and many naturally vote with their feet, taking with them skills, experience and qualities of leadership that Shrivenham could not even begin to imbue in its graduates.

Similarly graduate-predominantly junior officers are put in similar positions, see their peers earning shedloads for much less strain. They see quality of life issues, as the things the army expects of its officers stay the same or increase in burden whilst the fringe benefits reduce or in many cases disappear.

In many ways the problem with the Armed forces is derived from the argument that technology means you can have fewer men in the loop. so the accountants reduce manpower. The actual iterations of deployment do not change and the individual gets jiffed more and more. Some years ago while working for a major British Aerospace company, who obviously I cannot name or they would boot me from here to Farnborough, I was asked to look at some concepts for future recce AFVs. The boffins were most excited because with auto-loaders, sensors and so forth they reduced the "demands on the crew" and could operate and fight the vehicle with two men. So why not build it to allow two men to operate it. Admittedly most of their thinking, at that time, was conditioned by cockpit designing and RAF operational scenarios. Once it was explained that the two man crew of the AFV would not be returning after a few hours to a nice hotel in Italy, would need to carry out sentry duties in hides, air-sentries, NBC sentries, maintain their vehicles et cetera the idea was dropped...until some accountancy driven geek in the (then) PE produced an OR which stipulated...two man crews!

It is not about pay. It is about conditions and about maintaining and observing the covenant. The danger with banging on about pay, is that some grubby snouted politician up to his oxters in the trough will recognise that argument as so similar to their own motivations, that they will actually believe it is the answer.
 
#10
Cuddles said:
The key to recruiting is not pay. That sound bite from Brigadier alstead is neither helpful nor illuminating and taken in isolation, as such sound-bites always are prone to be taken, gives a false impression of service people and their values, standards and motivation.

how many people join the mob because of the money? Yes in the past the "package" looked good, once you threw in reasonable quarters/MQs, AT and sport opportunities and added life-style bonuses. Those appear to have been so deteriorated by generations of governments and increasing operational demands, that pay qua pay seems the least of the problems.

You would have to pay people a fortune to get them to willingly submit to an undefined period of 6 months on, 6 months off - unless there was something else, something "other" motivating them. Young soldiers tend not to mind the operational tempo, they like the effect it has on their bank balance, the great parties coming home or going out and the kudos of medals and warry experiences. The problem comes when the JNCOs and SNCOs start to get it in the neck from the DSM, they start to feel the stress of mounting, supervising and recovering troops from ops. Then they are under internal and external pressure and many naturally vote with their feet, taking with them skills, experience and qualities of leadership that Shrivenham could not even begin to imbue in its graduates.

Similarly graduate-predominantly junior officers are put in similar positions, see their peers earning shedloads for much less strain. They see quality of life issues, as the things the army expects of its officers stay the same or increase in burden whilst the fringe benefits reduce or in many cases disappear.

In many ways the problem with the Armed forces is derived from the argument that technology means you can have fewer men in the loop. so the accountants reduce manpower. The actual iterations of deployment do not change and the individual gets jiffed more and more. Some years ago while working for a major British Aerospace company, who obviously I cannot name or they would boot me from here to Farnborough, I was asked to look at some concepts for future recce AFVs. The boffins were most excited because with auto-loaders, sensors and so forth they reduced the "demands on the crew" and could operate and fight the vehicle with two men. So why not build it to allow two men to operate it. Admittedly most of their thinking, at that time, was conditioned by cockpit designing and RAF operational scenarios. Once it was explained that the two man crew of the AFV would not be returning after a few hours to a nice hotel in Italy, would need to carry out sentry duties in hides, air-sentries, NBC sentries, maintain their vehicles et cetera the idea was dropped...until some accountancy driven geek in the (then) PE produced an OR which stipulated...two man crews!

It is not about pay. It is about conditions and about maintaining and observing the covenant. The danger with banging on about pay, is that some grubby snouted politician up to his oxters in the trough will recognise that argument as so similar to their own motivations, that they will actually believe it is the answer.
Great post. How do they keep the the NCOs, I agree it's not pay.
 
#11
I wouldnt discount pay altogether, as it must be a part of the problem. The major factor must be the feeling that they have been at the very least forgotten, and mostly betrayed by this government.
 
#12
Cuddles said:
The key to recruiting is not pay. That sound bite from Brigadier alstead is neither helpful nor illuminating and taken in isolation, as such sound-bites always are prone to be taken, gives a false impression of service people and their values, standards and motivation.
...

It is not about pay. It is about conditions and about maintaining and observing the covenant. The danger with banging on about pay, is that some grubby snouted politician up to his oxters in the trough will recognise that argument as so similar to their own motivations, that they will actually believe it is the answer.
Good post and I pretty much agree with everything you said. Nobody (sane) would join the army for the pay alone as it is possible to earn far more for less effort on the outside.

From the original article it seems to indicate that the army has no problem atracting recruits just in retaining personel.

How to improve retention? I can think of a few measures but they would be expensive and mostly retro. A bigger army with less time on operational deployment. More sport and adventure training opportunities. Decent accomodation. Millitary hospitals reopened. Catering on camp to be done by the ACC again and no pay as you dine.
 
#13
Heartbreaklane said:
Cuddles said:
The key to recruiting is not pay. That sound bite from Brigadier alstead is neither helpful nor illuminating and taken in isolation, as such sound-bites always are prone to be taken, gives a false impression of service people and their values, standards and motivation.

how many people join the mob because of the money? Yes in the past the "package" looked good, once you threw in reasonable quarters/MQs, AT and sport opportunities and added life-style bonuses. Those appear to have been so deteriorated by generations of governments and increasing operational demands, that pay qua pay seems the least of the problems.

You would have to pay people a fortune to get them to willingly submit to an undefined period of 6 months on, 6 months off - unless there was something else, something "other" motivating them. Young soldiers tend not to mind the operational tempo, they like the effect it has on their bank balance, the great parties coming home or going out and the kudos of medals and warry experiences. The problem comes when the JNCOs and SNCOs start to get it in the neck from the DSM, they start to feel the stress of mounting, supervising and recovering troops from ops. Then they are under internal and external pressure and many naturally vote with their feet, taking with them skills, experience and qualities of leadership that Shrivenham could not even begin to imbue in its graduates.

Similarly graduate-predominantly junior officers are put in similar positions, see their peers earning shedloads for much less strain. They see quality of life issues, as the things the army expects of its officers stay the same or increase in burden whilst the fringe benefits reduce or in many cases disappear.

In many ways the problem with the Armed forces is derived from the argument that technology means you can have fewer men in the loop. so the accountants reduce manpower. The actual iterations of deployment do not change and the individual gets jiffed more and more. Some years ago while working for a major British Aerospace company, who obviously I cannot name or they would boot me from here to Farnborough, I was asked to look at some concepts for future recce AFVs. The boffins were most excited because with auto-loaders, sensors and so forth they reduced the "demands on the crew" and could operate and fight the vehicle with two men. So why not build it to allow two men to operate it. Admittedly most of their thinking, at that time, was conditioned by cockpit designing and RAF operational scenarios. Once it was explained that the two man crew of the AFV would not be returning after a few hours to a nice hotel in Italy, would need to carry out sentry duties in hides, air-sentries, NBC sentries, maintain their vehicles et cetera the idea was dropped...until some accountancy driven geek in the (then) PE produced an OR which stipulated...two man crews!

It is not about pay. It is about conditions and about maintaining and observing the covenant. The danger with banging on about pay, is that some grubby snouted politician up to his oxters in the trough will recognise that argument as so similar to their own motivations, that they will actually believe it is the answer.
Great post. How do they keep the the NCOs, I agree it's not pay.
Simple, give them the leadership they deserve both militarily and politically, give them the equipment they need, stop eroding their terms and conditions of service, make the military covenant a legally binding agreement and stop prosecuting them in shameful show trials.

That would at least be a start.
 
#14
Perturbed - you seem to get it. I wonder why "Sticky" Twigg, Swiss Tony and co can't quite work it out...brain hurts...nnnnagh!!
 
#15
Cuddles.

A really good post. I couldn't agree more. Its not about the money - since I left I've realised that there are so many easier ways to make more cash, and have a better lifestyle.

Joining the Army is not a strictly rational decision. If I were to look for a new job I could compare it with my current one very easily. How much more responsibility? How much more cash, benefits and package? Will the location give me better quality of life? Will it improve my prospects in my current career, or help me move to another? What would the effect be on my personal and family life?

By joining the Army you sacrifice nearly all of this choice - its a leap of faith, you can't compare the two. Thanks to decades of economic growth, even young Neds on deprived estates have other, more lucrative and comfortable, options which are much more clear.

Aside from broad choices - choice of arm, and perhaps a general specialism within that - once you join the Army your career choice will always come a "close second" to the needs of the Army. The gap between the two has widened significantly for many since 2003.

Secondly, more philosophically, why join the Army at all? Why choose a job which involves voluntarily giving up physical comfort & family stability (among many other things) for intangible benefits - serving Britain's people, national interest & liberating Afghans from the Taliban won't get you a Porsche at Christmas.

That said I am uncomfortable with normal life - as many of us are after we leave. Why?

I think some people are "hard-wired" by a combination of upbringing and personal inclination not to see profit as the main focus of their ambition.

( I would further argue that the proportion of such people is dropping with time, although this trend could change )

Hand on heart - I don't lose any sleep over the plight of ordinary Iraqis suffering sectarian violence and pitiful conditions. Nor do I give generously to NGOs seeking rehabilitate Afghan society after crippling decades of conflict. Do you?

Nevertheless I feel that, once the British people and government have decided that armed force is necessary to achieve some ethical / economic goal, it is a Good Thing to step forward to implement it.

I - personally - didn't want to be "valued by the nation" - feted at parades, complimented at dinner parties, praised in the papers. I was happy that the public carried on with their lives and left us to ours.

However, moral committment only goes so far. Not because as soldiers we are being "betrayed by a lying government" but because the government is driving a very hard bargain at the moment.

Is it too hard? Obviously, I would say yes - and the evidence is in the statistics reported. As Cuddles alludes to - you can work an Army this hard, but should you? Even in pure practical terms, I think not - otherwise it will still be suffering years down the line.

I think there will always be a relatively steady stream of young men willing to join to do one tour as a man test / life experience alongside their mates. But poor retention limits our ability to train, lead, and develop them in the future.

What keeps the NCOs in? Hmm... I was approached by a good few before I left who said that they would like to go but that they were scared by the thought of having to find a new career outside, and that they were also hanging in for the pension.

All that said I am strongly thinking about re-joining, if I can. Why? Its in the hard-wiring...

Charlie

( Edited to say, I meant this in response to Cuddles' first post, not the last one. That said you are right... its not exactly rocket science is it? Just expensive... oh dear )
 
#16
Just wondering.

Being optimistic for a minute... now that TELIC is winding down are we over the worst?

If HERRICK stays at its current level will the time between tours become sufficient to restore pre-TELIC quality of life?

Charlie
 
#18
I'd just like to add, that i've already achieved the perks of travelling the world and this winter I shall be conducting my own artic course overseas (learn to ski!!) and will naturally maintain BFT. Pretty cost effective for the MOD so far i'd say ;)
 
#19
Interesting posts. I certainly agree that more pay is not necessarily the right answer, although it wouldn't hurt!

For my own service, I would say that some of my lads who submitted their notice did so because they were too few deployments with cracking runs ashore and others submitted their's because of too much time away from home; obviously you can't solve one without impacting the other.

There has certainly been an understandable drive to get more out of the units (i.e. ships), putting them on station (i.e. deployed) for longer and really maximising the strategic effect of putting a ship alongside and not just using that period of time to recharge batteries etc... That seems to have cut down on the jollies which would normally keep people motivated while in a sea draft.

Furthermore many shore billets have been civilianised and thus time spent ashore for many is spent in posts for which either the sailor isn't trained or there is no real requirement. During these short periods ashore, some of the younger lads are not adequately supervised through the divisional system and this can lead to them losing interest and/or getting into trouble, both of which can result in PVR.

I'm not to sure what the answer is. More structure to the younger lads' service lives (e.g. organised PT - which, outside of training, only happens voluntarily in the RN) - well that will need more senior staff to monitor etc... More pay? Well, added to the fact that no one (apart from a few surveyors) has mentioned PVRing simply over pay to me (at any rate) if pay goes up too much we will, like the Met police (starting salary £25K?), become too expensive to have as many as we now have?

Sorry, I've rambled. :oops:

We're certainly not under the same strain as the army
 
#20
I'd suggest the £800,000 (and alot more) is better spent on retention.

Adv Trg, Jollies (ie Battlefield tours - good bonding, good laugh, good education and lessons that are hard to quantify), Education (actually civvie stuff) and sort out the blocks.

Have a look at the gyms, how many pools are there? Build a couple of olympic pools on camp (allow civvies to use them occaisoially) and revamp the (often) tired gym equipment.

The loss of a Senior Cpl or Sgt and Senior Capt or Maj can not be easily quantified. They cost, literally, millions to produce and can be lost on one word from a spouse.

Sort out retention and recruitment will sort itself out on its own. As mentioned early, many recruits are going to join anyway, they are drawn to the forces like a moth to a light. A few selected target audiences maybe, (ie Dental types and medics), but many willjoin anyway.

A lad sat in the bar, living it large about skiing in Bavaria, hiking in Canada and a reasonable operational commitment, not too mention a sizeable wad of cash saved from said Op Comm and of course the all important civvie quals will sell the Armed Forces much better than a snappy advert.

And the skiing and hiking is all useful too. I wonder how much the recruitment was affected by the recent Everest trip? Which was well publicised, the sailing though isn't, practically every year we have people sailing.

What happened to satisfied soldiers in the ACIOs? And toms returning to their schools?

WRT the Para Reg, it is claimed they didn't have problems with manpower in the original article, why did they have to have GRCs then?
 

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