See, this is where the Army and I were like oil and water. For years it never occurred to me that someone behaving like that might actually be serious, and it turns out that laughing in their faces isn't well received, even if the laughter is the good kind intended to show your appreciation for a really good joke.Contractorisation of messes also contributes. They simply aren’t as good value as they used to be. When I was a subbie (which is not aeons ago) we used to put up with the mess bullshit because it was £1 a pint, and DFC meant we ate like kings.
I lived in a HQ mess for a while a couple of years ago. Two 2Lts moved in and got pushed about a bit by the ‘Tweed and Death’ Brigade. Bollocking for stuff like not attending dinner, not putting on a tie to read the papers in the anti room, wanting to leave the bar when the old cnuts still wanted someone to drink with them. Then they disappeared..
"If you are someone who thinks prurient attention to the dress of others is an important component of fighting power then I can only suggest Dignitas."
That was the winning sentence for this thread. There are lots of bits of the Army where group mentality and coercion are useful and even necessary, even in things like group punishments in training which are now out of vogue just because the chain of command are scared and don't trust their subordinates. But the kind of person and mentality that insists everyone wears a certain kind of jacket or trousers because COHESION, is either an undiluted idiot or some dilution of toxic. It's the Ikea version of leadership and teamwork, used primarily by people who have never had an original thought on purpose, and can only manage a vague approximation of the real thing if all the pieces and tools are provided with a paint-by-numbers guide that uses no big words, or preferably no words at all.
If they and that attitude all died a death right now, the Army would be a much smaller but much more effective organisation tomorrow. Messes would be a good start.
@Horus Just re-read your post. Here's a practical suggestion: unless you are in one of the few regiments where it is an actual rank, stop calling or thinking of the younger officers as subalterns. Everyone lives in a rank environment all day, most of them really aren't that keen on playing the same game on their own time. Messes work best when they are rank-light or rank-invisible, and - from experience - it's just as galling being a 29-year old 2Lt having some dullard 23-year old Captain waxing lyrical about [life] solely on the basis that they are more senior, as it is being a 40-year old Captain having a 23-year old 2Lt doing the same. People are not their rank. Referring to them as such should be a work habit, not an out-of-hours one.