Army v Government

#1
It struck me whilst reading a history book about the Home Front that if we were physically or materially threatened again as we were in WW2 that we would never get anywhere near the level of support from the public and that the home front would crumble under a. public apathy and 'its not our war' b. government mismanagement.

Speaking to some Civi mates they feel that the Army is a Commercial 'tool' of the government and is therefore tarnished by the same brush.

I keep trying to tell them that the soldiers do the best possible job given the situation but they seem unimpressed.

Does anyone have a good quote / saying / reposte that I can use to put them in their places?
 
#3
It is a tool of government and always has been.

However, I think that Your pals view is slightly at odds with that found by those of us involved with Op Nimby. 47,000 people signing a petition in three weeks shows that the majority of British people have an abiding respect and support for HM Forces.

Every crap comment You can source can be matched by a positive one on the Grays Lane guest book, even if You filter out the international comments.
 
#4
Sven said:
47,000 people signing a petition in three weeks shows that the majority of British people have an abiding respect and support for HM Forces.
A majority would require over 30 million votes, not 47,000.
 
#5
msr said:
Sven said:
47,000 people signing a petition in three weeks shows that the majority of British people have an abiding respect and support for HM Forces.
A majority would require over 30 million votes, not 47,000.
To do a comparison, it would be interesting to find out how fast the 1,811,375 signatories to the e-petition against a "massive road tax increase" were signing up at http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/traveltax/.

The two rates (signatures per wk, at peak, say) would give you some kind of a guide to whether Joe Soap thinks as well of his soldiers as he does of his 4x4.

I'd lay money the 4x4 would come out tops. 8) [hr]
Edited to add I've just done a comparison of approximate averages.

Travel Tax petition [which the national gunmint seems to be blithely ignoring, BTW] - 1,811m signatures in (say) 112 days (from e-pet'n site opening in Nov '06 to 20 Feb 07, the petition closing date) gives an average sign-up rate of 16,169 per day

Op NIMBY petition [which did seem to impact on local authority thinking] 21 days, 47,000 signatures = average sign-up rate of 2,238 per day.

Conclusion: Joe Soap loves his car (roughly) 7.224 times more than his soldiers. 8)
 
#6
I'm pretty sure no body loved the army in 1935 either. WW1 and the grindhouse that had been was fresh in the mind. Yet people still signed on when the nation was threatned, and did bloody well to.

Lets not forget that a lot of young Toms have mates that are the little scrotes everyone complains about on here. It takes that one decsion to turn a chav-sum-prick in to a VC winning hero.
 

cpunk

LE
Moderator
#7
bobath said:
It takes that one decsion to turn a chav-sum-prick in to a VC winning hero.
Bill Speakman VC being a case in point. A soldier who was under open arrest when he won his VC and subsequently served a tour with 22 SAS.
 
#8
bobath said:
I'm pretty sure no body loved the army in 1935 either. WW1 and the grindhouse that had been was fresh in the mind. Yet people still signed on when the nation was threatned, and did bloody well to.

Lets not forget that a lot of young Toms have mates that are the little scrotes everyone complains about on here. It takes that one decsion to turn a chav-sum-prick in to a VC winning hero.
Yet the numbers volunteering in 1938 (when the gunmint increased the TA establishment as a low-budget/low-impact response to Herr Hitler's threat) were nowhere like as high as they were in 1914, and throughout WW2 - esp from '44 onwards - the conscript army never had quite the same self-sacrificing approach that characterised its 14-18 counterpart.

I don't dispute the last part of your post - but still.
 
#9
bobath said:
I'm pretty sure no body loved the army in 1935 either. WW1 and the grindhouse that had been was fresh in the mind. Yet people still signed on when the nation was threatned, and did bloody well to.

Lets not forget that a lot of young Toms have mates that are the little scrotes everyone complains about on here. It takes that one decsion to turn a chav-sum-prick in to a VC winning hero.
I see what you're getting at and to some extent I agree. During my last tour, my section was made up 'chavs'. There's no other way to describe them. They wore trackies, baseball caps, big thick chains and listened to "gangster rap". But when the sh*t hit the fan, and it did, every last one of them was superb.

However, I don't believe for a second they're the same scum that this country is producing now. They may have liked a fight, taken drugs, even nicked cars - But I very much doubt any of them stabbed someone at random to get into a gang, kicked a young girl to death for fun or murdered a disabled kid just because they could.

Then there are the fashion obsessed "big brother" generation. Bombs could be dropping on every town in the UK and as long as they were OK personally, they wouldn't give a fcuk. Their effortless and trouble-free lives are so separated from real life, I doubt they'd even be afraid.

I think a large number of today's youth would stand up and fight, but I think there are a lot who wouldn't or couldn't.
 
#10
baby_giraffe said:
if we were physically or materially threatened again as we were in WW2
Lessons were learned from the Great War but not WW2. During the Great War, tactics, strategy, leadership and the ethos of commanders were all shown to be lacking and deficient, in the face of modern warfare. So, the same mistakes were not made in WW2. Now, we have basically the same type of Army today as we had during WW2 (although the technology has improved). The structure, the ethos, etc. are all like they were. Other countries that have since acquired massive modern armies (e.g. Japan) have basically copied the WW2 model in terms of structure (i.e. officers and soldiers, ranks, training, etc) because so far, it has not been shown to be deficient.

In my opinion, modern armies such as ours are based on obsolete model and wouldn't stand up to a real threat to domestic security on the scale of WW2. Society has moved on, and in terms of education and experience, the lowest in society have about the same as the highest, while the highest are no longer habituated to commanding servants, etc. So the idea of having 'officers' with letters patent from the monarch seems alien to me and very much out of step with the changes that have taken place in society, where there are no longer any 'gentlemen' and 'commoners'. In the present day and age, officers' commissions are pursued by ambitious career soldiers who seem only concerned with making sure their immediate superiors are happy with them, and this seems inimical to the aim of putting the needs of the organisation well above the needs of the individual. In any event, it is always harmful to reinforce individual pride, and having separate eating and living arrangements for officers and soldiers is a big mistake.

Everything in the Army should be based on merit, and it should have nothing to do with social class or subjective notions of individual worth. We need to move away from separate ranks and scales for officers and soldiers, and ask ourselves whether we really need so much middle management in the Forces as we have right now. We could achieve this by regular skills testing and re-testing, so that managers can be demoted to the shop floor and new recruits who join as 'soldiers' can be promoted instantly to Lieutenant-level, if they pass the tests (which would be open to all, 100% of the time). The priority for the Army should only be maximum operational effectiveness, within the boundaries of its budget. It does NOT owe any person a living. In my view, everything that seems to be connected with 'tradition' is nothing but an expensive burden, and has to go. The Forces are too fat and need to lose weight.
 
#11
Hopeful said:
Other countries that have since acquired massive modern armies (e.g. Japan) have basically copied the WW2 model in terms of structure (i.e. officers and soldiers, ranks, training, etc) because so far, it has not been shown to be deficient.
Eh? Since when did the Japanese have a massive army? That would be strange for a country bound to limit the size of its forces due to having a 'Peace Constitution.' And I think you'll find that the Japanese had a rather large 'western styled' (German, to be precise) army from the Meiji restoration.
 
#12
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japan_Self-Defense_Forces

Japan is the world's fifth largest military spender. The Meiji Restoration dates back to the 19th century, and just goes to show that it's a passe-ist way to organise an army (officers vs soldiers). What I've been saying is: the type of Army we have now is good for a mid-20th century type of military threat, but is now outdated and wouldn't work with the same level of threat right now.
 
#13
Hopeful said:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japan_Self-Defense_Forces

Japan is the world's fifth largest military spender. The Meiji Restoration dates back to the 19th century, and just goes to show that it's a passe-ist way to organise an army (officers vs soldiers). What I've been saying is: the type of Army we have now is good for a mid-20th century type of military threat, but is now outdated and wouldn't work with the same level of threat right now.
Officers versus Soldiers? I think not. The army is not a democracy so it will always be necessary to have officers and soldiers. I don't think the class division is nearly as wide as it was in the past as rathe4r than coming from the "Ruling Class" a very large percentage of officers now come from university graduates who come from all walks of life.
 
#14
I'm not sure if it really is 'necessary' like you say. If you look at the world of business, people are recruited on the basis of their suitability for the post. Now, if you look at the Army, there are 2 separate recruitment channels. You can either join as a soldier or as an officer. Whichever path you choose, you will not cross the other during recruitment and selection, or during training. That can't be right.

A leader of men should be able to motivate and inspire others to do what they don't want to do, when the pressure is on. The type of man who spends half his time thinking about the kind of watch he should wear to impress his boss at a dinner party is not the man for the job. It may work in the short-term, but in the face of a WW2 scale of threat, it won't.

The Chinese treatises on the art of war emphasise that a leader should eat the same food and wear the same uniform as his men, and see to their needs before his own. This is supposed to win the soldiers' undying loyalty and trust. This is the kind of thing we simply don't have in our Army. The living quarters should be the same, for starters. Then, the promotion and ranks should be the same for all.

The advantage of starting with a level playing field and then subjecting everyone to the same battery of tests, means that you will always have the best man for the job, in whatever position. I am not talking democracy here. I AM talking MERITOCRACY.

So if a man trains to do his bleep tests and press ups and sit ups, leads a role-playing exercise and tells some old boys that he was captain of his school rugby team, that means sweet f*** all to me. Yes he's got his degree but so does everyone else. The old boys might put him in charge of a nuclear base, but there is no way a level-headed person would assume from that background that he is leadership material. Rather, start on the basis of real military experience. People who have years of experience, and who have proven aptitude above their peers in basic things like numeracy, literacy, etc. should be allowed to take the advanced leadership training offered by Sandhurst, and go straight into a top leadership role. Meanwhile, all raw recruits should start at the level of private, until they have shown ability above their peers, by way of equal testing.
 
#15
Hopeful said:
baby_giraffe said:
if we were physically or materially threatened again as we were in WW2
Lessons were learned from the Great War but not WW2. During the Great War, tactics, strategy, leadership and the ethos of commanders were all shown to be lacking and deficient, in the face of modern warfare. So, the same mistakes were not made in WW2.
Complete bollox.

The Army that won WW1 had a massively steep learning curve. It was - by the time that conflict had ended - arguably a more competent entity, at all levels, than anything we fielded during WW2.

What should amaze you is how all that learning was thrown away by between the wars Brit commanders - while the Boxheads capitalised on it, and transformed their army.

Go and read some Gary Sheffield, or Gordon Corrigan, and get some proper perspective before you start pontificating. 8)
 
#16
Hopeful said:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japan_Self-Defense_Forces

Japan is the world's fifth largest military spender.
Does not equal a large army. It has a very small but very technologically advanced and well equipped army.
 
#17
Hopeful said:
Lessons were learned from the Great War but not WW2. During the Great War, tactics, strategy, leadership and the ethos of commanders were all shown to be lacking and deficient, in the face of modern warfare.

Everything in the Army should be based on merit, and it should have nothing to do with social class or subjective notions of individual worth. We need to move away from separate ranks and scales for officers and soldiers, and ask ourselves whether we really need so much middle management in the Forces as we have right now. We could achieve this by regular skills testing and re-testing, so that managers can be demoted to the shop floor and new recruits who join as 'soldiers' can be promoted instantly to Lieutenant-level, if they pass the tests (which would be open to all, 100% of the time). The priority for the Army should only be maximum operational effectiveness, within the boundaries of its budget. It does NOT owe any person a living. In my view, everything that seems to be connected with 'tradition' is nothing but an expensive burden, and has to go. The Forces are too fat and need to lose weight.
Where do I start? On your WW1 assumptions, the British Army in 1918, which took 3 years to get over the destruction of its 1914 'cadre' was the finest army this country has ever fielded. It was contrary to populist belief well led and had successfully introduced battle winning strategies and new technologies to win the first all arms conflict in history.

That aside and having been done to death on on other forums, we do live in a meritocracy, all be it a slightly tribalised one. Soldiers are currently lifted out of the recruiting and basic training process and during subsequent service for officer training on a meritocratic basis. But your suggestion that officers should be busted down to the shop floor is ludicrous. Do you think they would be able to continue in service? I may be wrong but I don't think there is an army in the world except perhaps a despotic based one which would think this was a good idea. In fact, is this a wah? Do you currently have direct access to this, or in fact any army, and how it works? I agree with your point about upward mobilty for soldiers and this happens, but demotion to the ranks for sub-standard officers is a non-starter in any army.

Tradition as an expensive burden. I'll respond with Admiral Cunningham's point when he was warned about potential loss rate for shipping in the Med in WW2: 'It takes three years to build a ship, three centuries to build a tradition'. The point being that tradition gives a sense of self belief that can't be bought.

I agree with several of your sentences in isolation mate, but the overall view is I think misguided. I'll leave it there for the timebeing.
 
#18
Stonker said:
Hopeful said:
baby_giraffe said:
if we were physically or materially threatened again as we were in WW2
Lessons were learned from the Great War but not WW2. During the Great War, tactics, strategy, leadership and the ethos of commanders were all shown to be lacking and deficient, in the face of modern warfare. So, the same mistakes were not made in WW2.
Complete bollox.

The Army that won WW1 had a massively steep learning curve. It was - by the time that conflict had ended - arguably a more competent entity, at all levels,
Erm, that's what I just said. :p
 
#19
Hopeful, I have no idea of your military background and I am normally one of the first to criticise certain aspects of army life. However, I really don't see what your saying. The army has always lagged behind society and always will in terms of employment conditions. The officer caste has changed - perhaps not enough in selection terms, but it seems to work. Less emphasis is placed on your background than on education and potential to develop as a leader. This is no different to business in many ways. Perhaps the army should be looking at recruiting from within a bit more but it does happen.
Whatever way you do it, there will always be officers (and NCOs) more concerned with their career than with the benefit of the lads and the service. Again, just like real life. As for basing promotion on subjective notions of individual worth-what else do you suggest? Every thing we do is based on a subjective notion. We're human and the best you can do is try to be objective. Whatever performance testing you devise will be compromised in some way.
As for WW1, yes the army was initially deficient, as were those of all other nations including Germany. It was faced with a scale of conflict using constant evolving technolgy never witnessed before, but tactics and strategy developed and was the precursor of today's manouvre warfare. The donkeys opinion of WW1 generalship is largely old-hat now. As for WW2 mistakes of WW1 were repeated but new lessons learned -eg, commandos, chindits etc.
You truly believe the lowest of society reflects the highest in terms of education and experience? Check current literacy levels amongst adults!The military exists to counter any threat to the UK and must be ready for any type of warfighting, whether assymetrical or not. The forces are trying to strike a balance, dictated by budgetary constraints. All the pomp and circumstance reinforces individual pride in the army and whilst expensive has many positive side effects.
As for the army neing too fat? It mat be spending money in the wrong places but most of those serving on here would, through bitter experience, argue it could do with more fat in terms of employable manpower.
 
#20
Hopeful said:
I'm not sure if it really is 'necessary' like you say. If you look at the world of business, people are recruited on the basis of their suitability for the post. Now, if you look at the Army, there are 2 separate recruitment channels. You can either join as a soldier or as an officer. Whichever path you choose, you will not cross the other during recruitment and selection, or during training. That can't be right.

A leader of men should be able to motivate and inspire others to do what they don't want to do, when the pressure is on. The type of man who spends half his time thinking about the kind of watch he should wear to impress his boss at a dinner party is not the man for the job. It may work in the short-term, but in the face of a WW2 scale of threat, it won't.

The Chinese treatises on the art of war emphasise that a leader should eat the same food and wear the same uniform as his men, and see to their needs before his own. This is supposed to win the soldiers' undying loyalty and trust. This is the kind of thing we simply don't have in our Army. The living quarters should be the same, for starters. Then, the promotion and ranks should be the same for all.

The advantage of starting with a level playing field and then subjecting everyone to the same battery of tests, means that you will always have the best man for the job, in whatever position. I am not talking democracy here. I AM talking MERITOCRACY.

So if a man trains to do his bleep tests and press ups and sit ups, leads a role-playing exercise and tells some old boys that he was captain of his school rugby team, that means sweet f*** all to me. Yes he's got his degree but so does everyone else. The old boys might put him in charge of a nuclear base, but there is no way a level-headed person would assume from that background that he is leadership material. Rather, start on the basis of real military experience. People who have years of experience, and who have proven aptitude above their peers in basic things like numeracy, literacy, etc. should be allowed to take the advanced leadership training offered by Sandhurst, and go straight into a top leadership role. Meanwhile, all raw recruits should start at the level of private, until they have shown ability above their peers, by way of equal testing.
I take it you failed the Selection Board then?
 

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