BBC Radio 4: "The Briefing Room - Why Are The British Armed Forces Short Of Personnel?"

#1
"Britain's armed forces are struggling to maintain numbers. According to the National Audit Office there is a shortfall of more than 8,000 among military personnel and there is a significant shortage of personnel with skills in critical areas. The Army is at its lowest level since the days it was preparing to confront Napoleon, unable to meet even the reduced requirement of 82,000 regulars. Several reasons are cited: the lack of a current war to act as a recruiting sergeant, a recruitment process that's not working well, discontent within the ranks and a higher number of people leaving the forces than normal. We examine these causes and ask what effect the shortages have both on the battlefield and strategically. Britain has in living memory sent a Task Force to the Falklands, contributed to peacekeeping in Bosnia and sent combat forces to Iraq and Afghanistan. How well equipped is Britain today to defend itself both at home and overseas?"

BBC Radio 4 - The Briefing Room, Why are the British Armed Forces short of personnel?
 

Gout Man

LE
Book Reviewer
#2
I'll answer that question. If they are all like Stacker who spends most of his time on here then the Services aren't short they are just inept at tracking them down.
 
#3
Should be an interesting listen.

Having not yet heard it, in my experience I'd concur that many combat troops are disillusioned because they join for adventure, train for war and are lacking in that department, in the main. 'Commando on the Frontline' worked wonders for recruiting because young thrusters went straight from training to combat. Interestingly though, Royal Marines served an average of 6 years during the Herrick years, now the "average" Bootneck serves 11.

Matelot-wise, probably similar to the Army - there's a buoyant civilian job market out there, despite the doom & gloom of Brexit and we are in competition with educational establishments which fight to retain our target audience of 16-21 year olds and start them off in life with a £46K debt and very little by way of practical work experience. Mostly.

Poor new-entry wages do little to entice those aged 21-40 unfortunately - £800 a month is not much use to someone buying a house, running a car and maybe trying to support a young family.
 
#4
I heard it, thought it was well balanced and informative.

They said the recruitment process could take up to 300 days, and pointed out that was no good for an 18-year old wanting to get on with life.
 
D

Deleted 154930

Guest
#5
The millennial generation is far more savvy than people give them credit for and to an extent they are arguably better informed of the worst aspects of military life so they are not swayed by simplistic appeal to there more liberal instincts.

The services appear to be changing fast to try and accommodate, but in the process are likely losing some of that generation who have grown up with older values.

Similarly, The slow recruitment process is another useless Tory idea and a useless website is no comparison to a burly sgt in a recruitment office who gives you something to aim for straightaway.

Also to an extent there is no attempt to make the youth feel proud of this nation. Too many people carp and criticise the nation and that doesn't give them a wish to serve.
 
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#6
The millennial generation is far more savvy than people give them credit for and to an extent they are arguably better informed of the worst aspects of military life so they are not swayed by simplistic appeal to there more liberal instincts.

The services appear to be changing fast to try and accommodate, but in the process are likely losing some of that generation who have grown up with older values.

Similarly, The slow recruitment process is another useless Tory idea and a useless website is no comparison to a burly sgt in a recruitment office who gives you something to aim for straightaway.
Agreed. I think the Armed Forces are largely crap at social media because they employ inexperienced social media-savvy civilians who can engage but do not have a scooby about the military. Trouble is, our target recruiting demographic use it as primary comms...and we consistently fail to engage in their space.
 
#7
"Britain's armed forces are struggling to maintain numbers. According to the National Audit Office there is a shortfall of more than 8,000 among military personnel and there is a significant shortage of personnel with skills in critical areas. The Army is at its lowest level since the days it was preparing to confront Napoleon, unable to meet even the reduced requirement of 82,000 regulars. Several reasons are cited: the lack of a current war to act as a recruiting sergeant, a recruitment process that's not working well, discontent within the ranks and a higher number of people leaving the forces than normal. We examine these causes and ask what effect the shortages have both on the battlefield and strategically. Britain has in living memory sent a Task Force to the Falklands, contributed to peacekeeping in Bosnia and sent combat forces to Iraq and Afghanistan. How well equipped is Britain today to defend itself both at home and overseas?"

BBC Radio 4 - The Briefing Room, Why are the British Armed Forces short of personnel?
One imagines that surviving the immediate post-operational attention and persecution by corrupt lawyers and government officials, only to be hounded by the very same forty years later may just take the shine off the thrilling prospect of life in an organisation dedicated to box-ticking and the preservation of one's career trajectory above all else.
 
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#8
No money personal development.
No money for AT.
Crap management who care more about their SJARs than their blokes. (not all, but a lot)
Crap pay rises.
Crap pension.
Long tours.
Lack of manpower causing soldiers to double / triple / quadruple hat jobs.
Ridiculous recruitment system by Crapita.

Young lads leave and tell their mates how shit it was, so this puts any youngsters who were thinking about it, off.

There's that for starters IMHO
 
#9
No money personal development. Apart from Standard and Enhanced learning credits? I know someone learning Japanese cookery, having done a Webber BBQ course last year.
No money for AT. Crap. I did a weeks skiing last year and a weeks canoeing exped last month. Didn't cost a penny. What unit are you in?
Crap management who care more about their SJARs than their blokes. (not all, but a lot) My last question stands
Crap pay rises. Agreed
Crap pension. Really? My civvy bill family members would kill for my pension. And I challenge you offer evidence of a better one (sensible comparisons of course).
Long tours. Probably the quietest level of tasking for the last 35 years.
Lack of manpower causing soldiers to double / triple / quadruple hat jobs. Agreed
Ridiculous recruitment system by Crapita. So it would appear

Young lads leave and tell their mates how shit it was, so this puts any youngsters who were thinking about it, off.

There's that for starters IMHO
 
#10
Poor pension scheme 15
Lack of overseas postings
Everything else will improve over time
 
D

Deleted 154930

Guest
#11
My own son is a young teenager and obsessed with the military, but like any father i recall the first year out of the services and an 11 month stint on the dole, despite having transferrable skills from the signals. So even people the young people know, aren't that enthusiastic.

Also the retention issue is a massive problem for someone in a role which doesn't give you skills useful in civvie street i.e. instead of at least having a career, a smaller service has to be more proactive in shifting people out to replace with young and more useful at the sharp end.
 
#12
I know it is only a TV drama, but just been watching the first series of "Our Girl".
If Capita had been doing the recruitment, we wouldn't have got past the Pilot episode.
As others have said, aspirations for today's 18 to 25's are totally different, to those of 20 years ago, let alone us old and bold going back 30 to 40 years. They wouldn't put up with the poor standard of single accommodation that was accepted back then.
Coupled with the poor housing stock, I am sure that most "social housing" is now better than most MQ's, and the constant f**k around that seems to take place, is it any wonder they are so short of recruits.
Sadly, whilst the sons of the gentry from the Shires continue to enter into the service, those who were traditionally recruited from the farm/ sink estates have better aspirations.
 
#13
My own son is a young teenager and obsessed with the military, but like any father i recall the first year out of the services and an 11 month stint on the dole, despite having transferrable skills from the signals. So even people the young people know, aren't that enthusiastic.

Also the retention issue is a massive problem for someone in a role which doesn't give you skills useful in civvie street i.e. instead of at least having a career, a smaller service has to be more proactive in shifting people out to replace with young and more useful at the sharp end.
The Army has got a lot better at making courses that have civilian recognised qualifications.
It has also got a lot worse at recruiting and retention.
Recruiting went to hell when Capita got involved.

In my Reserve unit we have had people trapped in Capita limbo for over a year while they tried to sort out basic medical details.

That is when we lose people- not when they sign up on the crappy on line portal, but when we fail to retain them during the endless wait that sometimes develops.
 
#14
No money personal development. Apart from Standard and Enhanced learning credits? I know someone learning Japanese cookery, having done a Webber BBQ course last year.
No money for AT. Crap. I did a weeks skiing last year and a weeks canoeing exped last month. Didn't cost a penny. What unit are you in?
Crap management who care more about their SJARs than their blokes. (not all, but a lot) My last question stands
Crap pay rises. Agreed
Crap pension. Really? My civvy bill family members would kill for my pension. And I challenge you offer evidence of a better one (sensible comparisons of course).
Long tours. Probably the quietest level of tasking for the last 35 years.
Lack of manpower causing soldiers to double / triple / quadruple hat jobs. Agreed
Ridiculous recruitment system by Crapita. So it would appear
I'm ex RE, currently MPGS so to be fair I'm now going off the state of the units I work with and the complaints I listen to from the young lads that come through the guardroom. They seem to find us guardroom staff as a good unloading bay for their issues. However since joining in 1985 and going through the different "generations" so to speak up to now, and seeing all the changes, the army is definitely not as good a place to work as it used to be in some respects....but it is getting better in others.

ok so...

ELC can only be used for courses relevant to your job, unless you're in resettlement. Not useful sometimes if you want to expand into a different area.

AT: you're lucky to have got what you did. The lads in general dont get that much......unless you have rank I've noticed.

Management: Biggest complaint I hear from the young lads.

Long tours: Last unit I worked with have a Sqn on tour for 18 months down South. Not a lot of R&R either...unless you have rank.

Pension: I'm happy with mine but I managed to get 21 years in the old pension. The 2015 pension is dire, especially if you are just starting your career.
 

greyfergie

MIA
Book Reviewer
#15
Bring back individual Service recruiting offices, theres plenty of shop space on the high street, amoungst the charity shops... Staff them with nice smart recruiting Sgts and rows of ribbons.... Admit Capita was a mistake and be willing to step back to a system that worked.
 
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D

Deleted 154930

Guest
#16
Millennials are an odd bunch, they are socially adept at always showing a sweet smile and pleasant manner at the same time as a hard edged cynicism which is akin to an angry middle-aged man like myself.

I think the rubbish recruitment campaign is only part of the story. They probably focus grouped or personality tested youngster and came up with issues to chime with the yoof, forgetting much of that PC they have lived under and are far more adept at hiding there real opinions.

I would say the days of king and country are long gone, neither showing flashy kit or pretty girls on the beach will get them to flock to the standard. Showing the forces liberal conscious they would just as likely have contempt for behind there masks.

No, we need something more dramatic and pay would be the obvious answer to get them flocking again.
 

Gout Man

LE
Book Reviewer
#17
Bring back individual Service recruiting offices, theres plenty of shop space on the high street. Staff them with nice smart recruiting Sgts and rows of ribbons.... Admin Capita was a mistake and be willing to step back to a system that worked.
Cost will ensure that's a non starter. That's why they were closed in the first place. It's obvious that defence is not a priority to this or any government in the past twenty years or so. One reason Crapita was brought in.
Defence lags behind NHS, Education, and Policing in the eyes of the public and that's what the government obviously concentrates on.
We spend a hell of a lot on our nuclear defence programme, perhaps if we cut back on that a bit we could improve the life of your average squady, with accommodation been the number one priority, perhaps we could afford to have two aircraft carriers with planes, now that's a novel idea.
The nuclear deterrent is full of pros and cons, it's only been used twice in 73 years, do we really need it?
We could afford to do so much more if we parred it down or even did away with it. I've only considered this as recently as this thread appearing after all America has so much clout and can deliver a nuclear blast any where in the world at a moments notice, I really don't think that our very expensive twopence worth is really worth anything in the bigger picture of things, so let's re invest that money and get the forces up to date with decent wages etc.
After al if we did away with that rifle, that's an idea we could even bring that back, that would be spoiling them though.
 

greyfergie

MIA
Book Reviewer
#18
Cost will ensure that's a non starter. That's why they were closed in the first place. It's obvious that defence is not a priority to this or any government in the past twenty years or so. One reason Crapita was brought in.
Defence lags behind NHS, Education, and Policing in the eyes of the public and that's what the government obviously concentrates on.
We spend a hell of a lot on our nuclear defence programme, perhaps if we cut back on that a bit we could improve the life of your average squady, with accommodation been the number one priority, perhaps we could afford to have two aircraft carriers with planes, now that's a novel idea.
The nuclear deterrent is full of pros and cons, it's only been used twice in 73 years, do we really need it?
We could afford to do so much more if we parred it down or even did away with it. I've only considered this as recently as this thread appearing after all America has so much clout and can deliver a nuclear blast any where in the world at a moments notice, I really don't think that our very expensive twopence worth is really worth anything in the bigger picture of things, so let's re invest that money and get the forces up to date with decent wages etc.
After al if we did away with that rifle, that's an idea we could even bring that back, that would be spoiling them though.
You put a lot of effort into that post. But if the recruitment system isnt looked at sharpish [its not working] then there's going to be no-one to spoil....
 
#20
I would say the days of king and country are long gone, neither showing flashy kit or pretty girls on the beach will get them to flock to the standard. Showing the forces liberal conscious they would just as likely have contempt for behind there masks.

No, we need something more dramatic and pay would be the obvious answer to get them flocking again.
Advertising the benefits and potential bonuses of serving in the Armed Forces is one of the best recruiting tools available, however it needs to be done in a realistic and individually achievable manner rather than being fantasy based and laughable. Todays potential recruits are much more cynical, more aware of service life through the media and internet and much less happy to put up with crap conditions of service and accommodation just as my generation (1975-2012) were compared to those from the 1950-1970 era.

A large increase in pay may indeed persuade people to join but not necessarily many of those would be the right ones. Certainly pay comparable to achievable salaries in the civvy world is a good place to start, but good accommodation, easily available AT for those that want it (not everyone does), a good work/life balance and better personnel management at unit and personnel centre level are just as important when it comes to retaining those we need to retain, releasing those we don't want to retain in a quick manner is key too so avoiding a downward spiral within units; numbers don't always indicate all is well as the Army Reserve can testify.
 

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