• This is a stand-to for an incoming competition, one of our most expensive yet.
    Later this week we're going to be offering the opportunity to Win £270 Rab Neutrino Pro military down jacket
    Visit the thread at that link above and Watch it to be notified as soon as the competition goes live

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

Fitness of kids is sui generis. My kids have been fortunate to have benefitted from CEA and go to a decent boarding school which focusses both on academics and sport. Indeed, I would say my son is fitter than I at the same age; in spite of going to a rugby-mad school in NZ, we didn't go to the gym each evening; we didn't have dietitians, physios or fitness plans. Our gym had wall bars and a vaulting box, or two. If our kids had gone to the local high school/grammar school in the Lake District they would have had a lot of sport and would have a pretty good level of fitness. Yes, some things change - smart phones etc do encourage cabbagism, but let's not tar all teenagers with the same generalistic brush.

Here's a generalism: fat parents = fat kids.
 
Fitness of kids is sui generis. My kids have been fortunate to have benefitted from CEA and go to a decent boarding school which focusses both on academics and sport. Indeed, I would say my son is fitter than I at the same age; in spite of going to a rugby-mad school in NZ, we didn't go to the gym each evening; we didn't have dietitians, physios or fitness plans. Our gym had wall bars and a vaulting box, or two. If our kids had gone to the local high school/grammar school in the Lake District they would have had a lot of sport and would have a pretty good level of fitness. Yes, some things change - smart phones etc do encourage cabbagism, but let's not tar all teenagers with the same generalistic brush.

Here's a generalism: fat parents = fat kids.
@widow11 - care to qualify your 'dumb' button selection?
 
So I see the only and obvious answer to the shortage is to turn society's clock back 30+ years. Entirely achievable.

I suppose the only real question is, can the Army afford to be fully manned?
 
Having spoken to my Son who is in the Infantry, he is very disillusioned as are many of his colleges. He has told me his mates are SIgning Off in large numbers because of the usual things, to much time away from the family, to many exercises, to many guard duties, to many Ops etc etc you get the picture BUT the biggest problem is the more that SIgn Off the more pressure on those that remain hence they are also Signing Off. It a vicious circle that is not going to get better any time soon. He has decided to do one more Tour off Afghan for the money and will also be SIgning Off. There is no incentive to stay i suppose
 
Having spoken to my Son who is in the Infantry, he is very disillusioned as are many of his colleges. He has told me his mates are SIgning Off in large numbers because of the usual things, to much time away from the family, to many exercises, to many guard duties, to many Ops etc etc you get the picture BUT the biggest problem is the more that SIgn Off the more pressure on those that remain hence they are also Signing Off. It a vicious circle that is not going to get better any time soon. He has decided to do one more Tour off Afghan for the money and will also be SIgning Off. There is no incentive to stay i suppose
Which is the circle we found ourselves in.

The only way out was to reduce commitments to the same level of people, not forcing less people to maintain the same level of commitments.
 
So I see the only and obvious answer to the shortage is to turn society's clock back 30+ years. Entirely achievable.
Yep, crappier pay and accommodation (don't even ask for en-suite), a 'Devil-may-care' approach to risk, rampant bullying, THAT rifle, puttees, institutional alcoholism, no flexible working patterns, pregnant women personnel obliged to choose between having an abortion or leaving the Service, Gays actively hunted down and forced to leave or commit suicide, absolutely crappy field equipment, body armour (when issued) straight out of 'Nam....

Definitely desired by a lot of Arrsers.
 
Yep, crappier pay and accommodation (don't even ask for en-suite), a 'Devil-may-care' approach to risk, rampant bullying, THAT rifle, puttees, institutional alcoholism, no flexible working patterns, pregnant women personnel obliged to choose between having an abortion or leaving the Service, Gays actively hunted down and forced to leave or commit suicide, absolutely crappy field equipment, body armour (when issued) straight out of 'Nam....

Definitely desired by a lot of Arrsers.
The drawback is that you're not even joking...
 
The drawback is that you're not even joking...
'Fred, you are absolutely right. I joined in the mid 1980s (indeed, commissioned into the Reserve at Varsity on 1 May 1982) and I can truthfully say things are, overall, a lot, lot better. OK, so Hong Kong and (most of) Germany has gone. But think of the livers that have been saved.
 
Interesting thread..

In truth, I think each generation has to sort its own problems out.. no doubt there were similar issues at least every few decades since Boudicca polished her breastplate!

That said, a few things come to my notice..

1. How thin folk are on Top of the Pops in the 70s, and I certainly can't remember the phys being any much better (quite the opposite in fact).
2. How autonomous units were in the past. A Lt Col in command was a complete law to himself and was generally allowed to do what he liked. On the other hand, retribution for dishonest or disreputable behaviour could be swift and painful. Never forget that an Officer could be court marshalled for bouncing a cheque in the seventies..!
3, The loss of regimental record offices has been a slow rail crash. There is no corporate knowledge of individuals except in closed communities such as the SF or the Guards. As a result idiots get promoted and the talented leave..

At the end of the day, it all comes down to trust.

You can put up with a lot if you ultimately trust those above you to act predictably. Even if your treatment is harsh, if it is simply what others are suffering, and is the best that can be achieved in the circumstances then that is OK. What you must never do is break the trust between the nation and the military.. regrettably this has clearly been a left wing liberal and media agenda for years...!
 
Yep, crappier pay and accommodation (don't even ask for en-suite), a 'Devil-may-care' approach to risk, rampant bullying, THAT rifle, puttees, institutional alcoholism, no flexible working patterns, pregnant women personnel obliged to choose between having an abortion or leaving the Service, Gays actively hunted down and forced to leave or commit suicide, absolutely crappy field equipment, body armour (when issued) straight out of 'Nam....

Definitely desired by a lot of Arrsers.
Keep going....I’m almost there.
 
The drawback is that you're not even joking...
It does seem ironic that a thread about current problems and survival of the fittest, which actually means survival of the most able to adapt quickly, has descended into the usual "it was better in the old days". After all, lack of Health and Safety only caused problems for people who got killed or injured, their relatives, witnesses who were traumatised.....

I am sure I read a Commons' Select Committee report which expressed alarm over the high percentage of deaths and injuries during Telic and Herrick that were due to avoidable accidents. Also ignoring safety rules never has consequences in combat - like the Battlecruisers that blew up at Jutland due to ignoring safety roles regarding cordite.
 
It does seem ironic that a thread about current problems and survival of the fittest, which actually means survival of the most able to adapt quickly, has descended into the usual "it was better in the old days". After all, lack of Health and Safety only caused problems for people who got killed or injured, their relatives, witnesses who were traumatised.....

I am sure I read a Commons' Select Committee report which expressed alarm over the high percentage of deaths and injuries during Telic and Herrick that were due to avoidable accidents. Also ignoring safety rules never has consequences in combat - like the Battlecruisers that blew up at Jutland due to ignoring safety roles regarding cordite.
It was better in Libya. We just dropped 500 lbs bombs on any civilian who looked dodgy. No health and safety concerns there.
 
It was better in Libya. We just dropped 500 lbs bombs on any civilian who looked dodgy. No health and safety concerns there.
Are there any verified figures for civilian casualties? How does it compare with the masses Gaddafi was about to slaughter?

However - I was talking about accidents, deaths, and injuries to our own personnel. Things that come to mind include no explosion suppressing foam in the fuel tank of that Hercules that was shot down by insurgents in Iraq, the loss of that Nimrod in Afghanistan (routing high pressure fuel lines next to hot (several hundred degrees Centigrade) and cutting maintenance), a (fatal?) accident with the Chain Gun fitted to Warrior, and others.

Non operational accidents also cause needless attrition to our finite pool of personnel. You might think a soldier giving instruction to a driver reversing should not wear hi viz as it looks like 'elf and safety gone mad', but seeing him being severely injured is not particularly good either. A high accident rate is unlikely to help retention either.
 
It was better in Libya. We just dropped 500 lbs bombs on any civilian who looked dodgy. No health and safety concerns there.
Having been a Training Officer at Company and Regimental level and, being RMP have seen the aftermath of accidents I can assure you that H&S is required.

Notwithstanding the effect of reducing our manpower through avoidable injury and deaths, how much of an impact on morale is it when these things are found to be avoidable and someone just didn't do their job?

Just because on operations it is necessary and justifiable to take risks (and sometimes shit just happens) it doesn't mean that training for it shouldn't be as safe as possible.
 
Are there any verified figures for civilian casualties? How does it compare with the masses Gaddafi was about to slaughter?

However - I was talking about accidents, deaths, and injuries to our own personnel. Things that come to mind include no explosion suppressing foam in the fuel tank of that Hercules that was shot down by insurgents in Iraq, the loss of that Nimrod in Afghanistan (routing high pressure fuel lines next to hot (several hundred degrees Centigrade) and cutting maintenance), a (fatal?) accident with the Chain Gun fitted to Warrior, and others.

Non operational accidents also cause needless attrition to our finite pool of personnel. You might think a soldier giving instruction to a driver reversing should not wear hi viz as it looks like 'elf and safety gone mad', but seeing him being severely injured is not particularly good either. A high accident rate is unlikely to help retention either.
The issue comes up when Safety becomes a chain of command or an institutional responsibility and the individual loses agency and interest in the whole affair.

Safety should be a personal matter and when the organisation says "Safety first" and then stipulates how it is to be done, the individual becomes passive baggage.

The key point to haul in is this: "the dangers of confusing compliance with real safety."
Best articulated here: ‘Dirty Jobs’ guy says Safety Third is “a conversation worth having” | 2012-06-25 | ISHN

Though massively suffering personally from no.s 5 & 9 (with hints of 3 & 7), this summary is quite useful on how cognitive biases in risk can create worse situations.

Nine cognitive biases risk managers should know - Raconteur

The BMJ point in no.6 about risk compensation is quite contentious and there are those who don't like the idea that whilst individuals may benefit the herd suffers.
Risk reduction is not like a vaccine, increasing herd immunity. Each individual needs to develop and exercise their risk "muscle" personally.

Whilst accidents, life changing injuries and fatalities are individually awful and horrific for those concerned and their families, there is also a strong social learning element for others, after all we didn't evolve because of Time outs for Safety during Sabretooth attacks, rather from making sure we got our risk prevention and mitigation in first.....

E2A: bit like teachers, those who can't, do safety instead...
 
Are there any verified figures for civilian casualties? How does it compare with the masses Gaddafi was about to slaughter?

However - I was talking about accidents, deaths, and injuries to our own personnel. Things that come to mind include no explosion suppressing foam in the fuel tank of that Hercules that was shot down by insurgents in Iraq, the loss of that Nimrod in Afghanistan (routing high pressure fuel lines next to hot (several hundred degrees Centigrade) and cutting maintenance), a (fatal?) accident with the Chain Gun fitted to Warrior, and others.

Non operational accidents also cause needless attrition to our finite pool of personnel. You might think a soldier giving instruction to a driver reversing should not wear hi viz as it looks like 'elf and safety gone mad', but seeing him being severely injured is not particularly good either. A high accident rate is unlikely to help retention either.
Good observations, but wrong conclusion my friend...

The current H & S system in UK grew out of the industrial sector and was/is firmly embedded in the unions/management mindset and the bureaucratic approach to risk management. This has resulted in an overweening, expensive and inefficient culture which has had only a limited effect on risk management ( see Grenfell,,,!)

"H & S" as practised in the UK is based upon the principle of the application of a "safe method of work" derived from a "risk analysis" the task in question. Like many things, this looks like a perfectly sensible solution to which nobody could object to.. until you see how it was implemented! At this point, it needs to be pointed out that there is nothing new here.. people have been killed and injured at work since man started to lasso Wooly Mammoths, and the issue of who is responsible is as old as the hills. Even in slave societies, there was at least a marginal value in not getting your best or strongest slaves damaged unnecessarily! The bottom line is that there is always a risk in any activity that has to be managed to ensure it is "as low as reasonably possible". In other words managing risk requires thought and an understanding of the context and purpose of the activity.

The problem with the modern approach to H & S is that it does not acknowledge the nature of the element of judgement and seeks to impose bureaucratic solutions which are often incapable of dealing with the issues. Because the process of risk assessment involves knowledge and judgement, attributes not well handled by bureaucracies, that we end up with solutions that are inefficient, expensive and often ineffective. The fact that risk has always been a point of issue between the leaders and the led has also made it an attractive area for those with a political or other ulterior motive to become involved..!

The assessment and taking of risk is a core element of any activity. At the end of the day someone needs to make a decision that the potential advantages of an action outweigh the potential risks. For a society to operate well, it needs to try and ensure that the "someone" is capable of making the best call in these circumstances. This is not an easy thing to achieve, involving as it does a fine distinction between recklessness and timidity. Good societies need to breed these individuals and have trust in them. The danger is not accepting this reality and listening to the voices of those who would challenge leadership, but not accept responsibility themselves!

As soon as you see statements being made regarding "zero risk tolerance approach" or "Never Again" or other such patent nonsense being spouted, then the "Bullshit Alert" signs need to start flashing. Many of our current morale issues are as a result of media and political witch hunting activities which are not only misguided, but fundamentally dangerous.

War fighting is all about managing risks and taking decisions in uncertain conditions. It needs skill and courage by all concerned, and sadly it does not always come off. Flying aircraft in a battle zone is a risky business and there are always consequences. I happened to be around in all the circumstances you quote above, and frankly the only other option at the time would be to have grounded all these aircraft or remove the chain gun from the vehicles exposing the force to an even greater risk. There was no evidence to support such a decision, and this still remains..

We as a society need to start to understand the difference between boldness and recklessness, to support the first and condemn the second.
 
The issue comes up when Safety becomes a chain of command or an institutional responsibility and the individual loses agency and interest in the whole affair.

Safety should be a personal matter and when the organisation says "Safety first" and then stipulates how it is to be done, the individual becomes passive baggage.

The key point to haul in is this: "the dangers of confusing compliance with real safety."
Best articulated here: ‘Dirty Jobs’ guy says Safety Third is “a conversation worth having” | 2012-06-25 | ISHN

Though massively suffering personally from no.s 5 & 9 (with hints of 3 & 7), this summary is quite useful on how cognitive biases in risk can create worse situations.

Nine cognitive biases risk managers should know - Raconteur

The BMJ point in no.6 about risk compensation is quite contentious and there are those who don't like the idea that whilst individuals may benefit the herd suffers.
Risk reduction is not like a vaccine, increasing herd immunity. Each individual needs to develop and exercise their risk "muscle" personally.

Whilst accidents, life changing injuries and fatalities are individually awful and horrific for those concerned and their families, there is also a strong social learning element for others, after all we didn't evolve because of Time outs for Safety during Sabretooth attacks, rather from making sure we got our risk prevention and mitigation in first.....

E2A: bit like teachers, those who can't, do safety instead...
... Bang On!

I have a feeling that although "Safety" is an institutional bugaboo it is not actually a personal one, and that an institution reacting to safety threats is actually a disincentive at the personal level...!
 

Similar threads

Latest Threads

Top