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

#81
There's another aspect which I saw once I moved away from the sSs and worked in wider government (although still serving at the time). The Services confuse traditions with what is archaic; where does one start? The Army's bizarre regulations on orders of dress; the business of using terms like sir; seeking permission to keep a pet; the widely-held 1930s views that the trailing spouse is expected to be an unpaid social worker and hostess; that poorly maintained accn is 'a good deal'; COTS is no substitute for a steam driven, indeed Victorian procurement system...I could go on. But how is any of this likely to attract or retain people?
 
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#82
Another point not directly made so far, is that SP are almost always portrayed in the media as victims: PTSD, life-changing injuries etc. Now I'm not complaining about Invictus Games or DIY SOS who rebuild a house for an injured soldier, but because of this saturation of victimhood, is there little wonder why bright, young people would want to join?

My son is off to Varsity in October after taking a year out. He was interested in
joining the Army and spent time both through CCF and through trips I'd organised with colleagues to spend time with the Army.

He enjoyed the physical aspects but found it intellectually unchallenging. To my surprise, he thought the JOs were clones and the tattoed to a Man NCOs a bit thick and unambitious (his words).

That was his perception; he's no snowflake and has travelled the world at his own means and wits over the last 11 months. He's also seen the fun side of service life (5 family overseas tours - Italy (twice), southern Germany, Malaysia and Turkey), benefited from subsidised boarding school, but a service life isn't for him. I think school leavers are a lot more analytical - I saw this with him and his friends looking carefully at university courses, given that they will leave with a £50K debt.
That is exactly what my dad said to me when I told him I had applied to join. Oh well im not exactly a genius, I think that the army may still have an negative image in the Publics Mind which is effecting recruitment.
 
#83
Except that's never been my experience. It might be a factor of my job and Service, but I've routinely done things - for operational reasons - that were incredibly risky and as the "man on the scene" I was trusted to make a judgement call.

In particular, the Duty Holder construct works well in my experience.


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Maritime and Aviation ways of working still have Pilot in Charge or Captain as a fairly significant arbiter.
Only in Pongo land will a Major be second guessed by a colonel or above
 
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#84
The bottom line is the millennial are just too canny these days for the military brass and ministry number crunchers to exploit them.

The millennial, I have a lot of respect for there work ethic, they will work harder than any generation including my own that I have seen. BUT, they expect there graft will benefit them directly. If we were threatened for instance, I have faith in the youth to serve, IF they believed they were personally threatened.

Much of the recent history of the services have been campaigns which they didn't feel that threat, they know the life and friendship can be great, but they can get that at Uni. So what USP does the military have to sell the life to them.

At the moment, there is no distinctness and one thing more than anything is you need some humour in the marketing. That alone is the thing most of us miss who aren't in anymore.
 
#85
#86
The bottom line is the millennial are just too canny these days for the military brass and ministry number crunchers to exploit them.

The millennial, I have a lot of respect for there work ethic, they will work harder than any generation including my own that I have seen. BUT, they expect there graft will benefit them directly. If we were threatened for instance, I have faith in the youth to serve, IF they believed they were personally threatened.

Much of the recent history of the services have been campaigns which they didn't feel that threat, they know the life and friendship can be great, but they can get that at Uni. So what USP does the military have to sell the life to them.

At the moment, there is no distinctness and one thing more than anything is you need some humour in the marketing. That alone is the thing most of us miss who aren't in anymore.
Yeah I think that sums it up quite well, being honest I dont know why we invaded afghanistan or iraq and that does seem to be the same with other people my age.
 
#87
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.

I’m trying to rejoin as a reservist before I hit 50. That’s tick tocking away. I started in Feb. 50 in March next year. Capita are shameful. There’s no excuse for incompetence like that, none.

They should be thrown off the contract and pay the Government back every penny.
 
#88
It's pretty damn obvious to every one that the money isn't there. We are in a huge national debt, and you have only stated what I said before, defence is not of paramount importance to the government owing to other areas that the public perceive to be more important in their daily lives.
Without doing something dramatic and innovative we are not going to improve the lot of your average armed service man or woman.
Then do the dramatic, and think the speakable.

For once, have a government that really does do joined up thinking. Why are we spending so much on the NHS and social welfare?

In part, due to an increase in the population of 10 million in 35 years, an unheard of increase. In no small part due to uncontrolled immigration. Curb it. In addition, robustly encourage the private sector to invest in employee training to address the alleged skills gap that immigration purportedly meets; tax breaks for [approved] training courses, for example.

Look at expenditure beyond headline departmental figures. Starters for 10, the Highways Agency budget. Due to an explosion in road signage in the past 20 years, a not considerable portion of the budget is spent on maintaining un-necessary signage. Drive down the M6/M42 through Birmingham for a sterling example of this.

The NHS. The third rail of politics, and a monster self-licking lollipop. Health Authorities worked. Trusts don't. Every Trust has a CEO, COO, and a Board. Average salary at this level is £250,000 to "compete with the private sector and attract the best talent". Yet they do not compete with the private sector for talent, as a prerequisite is previous NHS experience. As for 'talent', it seems to be limited to making front-line cuts and then moving to the next NHS opening. Regroup trusts into hospitals, and slash management overhead.

MPs ho ho ho. Lets lead by example. If I join a private sector company in a role based xxx miles away, I'm expected to move or commute at my own expense. Why should MP's be any different? A sterling opportunity was lost when we sold barracks in London; one or two could have been converted into serviced apartments, each with a bedroom, kitchenette and study, available at a peppercorn rent. Take it or leave it, but no second home allowance, no flip-flopping of second home for selling purposes, and cut right back on allowable expenses.

Much much tougher contract negotiation, and drop PPI tenders. Penalty clauses for performance failures, cost-overruns, SLA failures.

Utopian thinking? Of course it is.
 
#89
Retention? It's not just that pay has been frozen and then raises capped, we've also seen the virtual destruction of being able to claim anything as well. Of course being the Army this was carried out in the usual blustering haphazard and seemingly underhand way which we've become accustomed to.
Day to day it just seems like everything we do is harder than it has to be and for the older soldier certainly harder than things used to be, our processes linked to some pretty I'll thought and barely functioning IT make for many a frustrating day.
Restructuring, it seems we're in constant change, we haven't even fully implemented the last one when the next one is announced and off we go again. Every change seems to see us less capable, less able and more hamstrung, every change stinks of reinforcing defeat.
Glasgow APC, the place where dreams die, where the faceless and heartless suck the morale from an entire organisation, burn it with fire........
 
#90
Criminals are rewarded by the criminal justice system and frequently get better accommodation than junior officers. Minted baby boomers aren't interested in helping society and instead rent out their property for prices far above a normal mortgage. Being British is now meaningless due to mass immigration and anyone being given a passport. There's also the dubious record of the recent war in Iraq to consider and the fact that 'duty' and 'honour' no longer exist for the leaders of society. Patriotism is also no longer taught in schools and children have no clue about past glories, I had to tell my gf about Dunkirk and she went to a grammar school ffs!

Look at a British Pathe newsreel from the 50s and see the difference to today, there's very little pride or sense of community in most places. Ergo there's nothing left to defend.

The Yanks still manage to have espirit de corps, mind you they've got lots of flags to wave and lots of jingo.
 
#92
Retention? It's not just that pay has been frozen and then raises capped, we've also seen the virtual destruction of being able to claim anything as well. Of course being the Army this was carried out in the usual blustering haphazard and seemingly underhand way which we've become accustomed to.
Day to day it just seems like everything we do is harder than it has to be and for the older soldier certainly harder than things used to be, our processes linked to some pretty I'll thought and barely functioning IT make for many a frustrating day.
Restructuring, it seems we're in constant change, we haven't even fully implemented the last one when the next one is announced and off we go again. Every change seems to see us less capable, less able and more hamstrung, every change stinks of reinforcing defeat.
Glasgow APC, the place where dreams die, where the faceless and heartless suck the morale from an entire organisation, burn it with fire........
It's got sod all to do with APC Glasgow. APC just implement what the MoD tell them to.
 
#93
Criminals are rewarded by the criminal justice system and frequently get better accommodation than junior officers. Minted baby boomers aren't interested in helping society and instead rent out their property for prices far above a normal mortgage. Being British is now meaningless due to mass immigration and anyone being given a passport. There's also the dubious record of the recent war in Iraq to consider and the fact that 'duty' and 'honour' no longer exist for the leaders of society. Patriotism is also no longer taught in schools and children have no clue about past glories, I had to tell my gf about Dunkirk and she went to a grammar school ffs!

Look at a British Pathe newsreel from the 50s and see the difference to today, there's very little pride or sense of community in most places. Ergo there's nothing left to defend.

The Yanks still manage to have espirit de corps, mind you they've got lots of flags to wave and lots of jingo.
Criminals get better accommodation than young officers? Apart from why young officers should be singled out over other officers, what about Jnr & Snr ranks? Having seen prisoner accommodation in more than one Nick (and no I wasn't an inmate) I can assure you that you're talking b0ll0cks here.

As for the rest of your post there's so much more b0ll0cks I'll just leave it there.
 
#97
Criminals get better accommodation than young officers? Apart from why young officers should be singled out over other officers, what about Jnr & Snr ranks? Having seen prisoner accommodation in more than one Nick (and no I wasn't an inmate) I can assure you that you're talking b0ll0cks here.

As for the rest of your post there's so much more b0ll0cks I'll just leave it there.

Agree.


Prison visits as HM Inspector and as a JP.

Not nice. Not at all.


My accom in basic, late 80s, was Spartan but I didn’t have to shit in the corner of the room and more to the point I wasn’t locked in.
 
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#98
Yet to meet one that thinks that, I have however met many people that believe we were wrong to deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan. I've never heard any of them believe we invaded either country.
then you have led a sheltered life. Try mixing with the student populace for awhile (i did a stem training course as the tutor for teenagers and that was even worse).
 
Without flogging a dead horse I think the main issue is a generational disconnect.
1. Fitness. It has been recognised that as a whole the younger generation isn't as fit (mentally or physically) or as robust as ones before it. I know every generation thinks this, however the Army has formally acknowledged it by shifting the fitness test baselines to quite frankly laughable scores. Fitness requirements to pass out of Ph2 have been removed and the focus is on the trade theory, totally forgetting that the point is to carry out your trade in the field in austere conditions. We have made it nigh on impossible to bin an unsuitable individual from training, leaving them the field army's problem. This is unfair both on the individual and the army, having been a Training Officer and an Ops Officer we simply didn't have time to address the failings.

The culmination of this is that when they arrive in a unit and start suffering on proper phys they don't like it.

2. Cohesion. It has been touched on before, but there is little to no cohesion. Soldiers (and Officers) remain too attached to home, they fail to bond with their Pl/Coys as a support network and return home every weekend. To them a posting down south just means a longer drive on a Friday. Instead of actually getting into the local town they'd rather drive for 7 hours. This has been a perennial issue for UK units, but with the drawdown of overseas postings its only going to get worse.
Z Type accom means that soldiers go and shut themselves in a (very nice) room with a playstation and suffer in silence. In the build up to HERRICK 12 one of my mates told me that he had 'a lot of scared soldiers' in Z Type who just fretted in their rooms alone or on the phone to girlfriends rather than a senior Tom or screw taking them to one side and keeping an eye on them.

3. Recruiting campaigns. Totally aimed at the wrong people and appears to be focussed on virtue signalling rather than attracting quality recruits. Why the Army has hamstrung itself over feeling it needs to appeal to a very small percentage of the population rather than its main recruiting demographic is beyond me.
All it has done is drive the fit and motivated into the waiting arms of the Royal Marines. Christ even the RAF adverts are better, and all the other services are very well done.

4. Lack of trust. Gen. Carter stated that he felt he needed to convince the 'gatekeepers' (parents) that sending their children to us was a good thing and they'd be looked after. However this has alienated all the serving personnel by treating us like children. Alcohol risk assessments and policies applying to grown men and women are ridiculous.

5. Lack of focus/perspective. I am part of a dying cohort, having joined the Reserves Pre-2000 and the Regular Army pre-HERRICK. I've seen the Army shift from a peacetime force to a warfighting one and back again. There is nothing to focus the mind now, there is no perspective, very few of my peer group have experienced combat, most having earned their medals sat on BSN, yet speak as if they're the authority on deployments. The smallest things that would've been forgotten about in the late naughties, early teens snowball into big issues. There is very little to keep guys interested - multiple UK based exercises and associated poor training value just doesn't cut it.
Afghan saw virtually every cap-badge perform their role properly and in a fighting environment, RE laid their first bridge under fire since Korea, Recy Mechs recovering vehicles, EW, RMP, RA, all doing their jobs in contact - even the gunner I had for an ANCOP road move was RAPTC!

Apologies if it degenerated into a ramble, I'm feeling particularly aggrieved, bitter and passed-over today!
 
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