behavioural Conflict and behavioural change

Discussion in 'Staff College and Staff Officers' started by Auld-Yin, Jan 28, 2012.

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  1. Auld-Yin

    Auld-Yin LE Reviewer Book Reviewer Reviews Editor

    The review of the book Behavioural Conflict by Cdr Steve Tatham RN and Maj Gen Andrew MacKay has raised a huge number of comments from ARRSERs. We would now like to bring that discussion to the main forums and open it out more rather than leave it sitting purely against the review of the book. Cdr Tatham has shared the notes he used at a book launch which he gave which sets out the ideals behind the book and what he and Gen MacKay would like to see.

    The comments on the review have been very forthright and people have really entered into the discussion with their personal viewpoint and where they see the Services now and future. I hope that this discussion can continue and be expanded as this must be a subject which is very close to the thinking of many professional soldiers and sailors (and maybe even the odd airman J ).

    I hope to be joined by Frank Ledwidge whose own book Losing Small Wars was recently reviewed on ARRSE and which also raised a fair bit of comment on a similar area of military thinking.

    This is not a plug for either book, although I would certainly recommend that you at least considered getting hold of a copy for your own use, but is an opportunity for some thoughtful and deep discussion. Obviously you will have to remember that this is an open forum so while everyone is invited to the fray, please remember PERSEC and OPSEC at all times.

    These are the notes used by Steve Tatham at the launch of the book Behavioural Conflict.

    Have a look at the reviews linked below and then join in the discussion on what direction the services should be taking, if at all!


    Behavioural Conflict

    Losing Small Wars
  2. well, bringing it into the sunlight, bright and kicking, I'll follow up on Stonker from

    Perhaps the fact that small Inf regiments may not be the best place to grow your Senior Commanders? If the tribal nature of them are as ingrained as they seem, perhaps it's time to move a Corps of Infantry, at least for the Officers?

    I think there was a plan (at least, that's what SCC and the latest Whitehall Paper from RUSI indicate), but it was fatally flawed from the off by a) a mis-understanding of the situation, and b) the use of a highly aggressive Brigade to lead things. From then onwards we were never in with a chance.
  3. In the UK these days, we don't have a coherent lobby, for want of a better word, of dissenting retired, or God forbid, serving officers and seniors (anyone for Liddel Hart or Guderian or Small Wars Journal for goodness sake?). They have in the US, I'm thinking of the likes of Andy Bacevich and Bill Astore, both retired Colonels and respected academics and commentators. We've got Tim Collins and the odd SF type who occasionally pop up. Yet in doing the circuit after writing the book (I am, as they say, 'familiar with the thinking of' Frank Ledwidge -author of Losing Small Wars), I rarely get any serious criticism, a massive surprise to me. The worst I've got in print is some accusations from one or two old steamers varying from mittyism to unspecified factual inacuracy. A well-known Two Star said I should partly accept responsibility for the disasters myself as I was part of it too and he did not remember me prophesying disaster when I was his Justice Advisor -fair one.

    So what? I find it extraordinary that the kind of books that Stevey T and A Mackay have written, and I suppose my own, aren't more common. There is so much real bitterness as well as more reasoned, articulated and moderated criticism out there. It is often aired here, but you don't see criticism in print much from recently retired soldiers. Extraordinary perhaps but we know why.

    Which returns me to Alfred the greats point above. Step out of line, and you stand to be accused of defeatism, at best. It is interesting that on several occasions I have been asked by Generals - including-ahem- one very senior fellow 'Are you still serving?'

    So what if I was? There are no opsec issues in my book and no 'privileged access'. Why shouldn't a serving officer write reasonably but critically in order to try to engage in mature discussion of the kind you get, for example, on Small Wars Journal?

    Mackay and Tatham are arguing for precisely this kind of thing. Not 'openness' we can't have that obviously (no), but levering open a big old mucky window and letting a bit of light and air into a decidedly stuffy and dark room is no bad thing. That's what Tatham and Mackay have done.

    Given that one of them is still serving -and therefore requiring of censorship by people who know better, I wouldn't be a bit surprised if the 'Behavioural Conflict' we have , isn't quite the one that was written. Imagine how that might have looked!

    And another thing.......!

    Anyone for taking us forward?
  4. Without wishing to speak for him, in private conversation Cdr Steve doesn't seem that different to the book. I think one thing in his favour is that his branch is effectively 'capped' at Capt RN level*. Indeed, having cleared the 'hump' that is Lt Cdr to Cdr promotion**, and now in Operational Command, I would suggest that amazingly the RN hasn't penalised him for his thoughts; if anything he is doing better than his branch contemporaries .

    On the wider issue, I think it returns to the fact there is no established academic pedigree in the British Armed Forces. Stonker (and others) have debated this ad nauseum......

    *E(TM) - equivalent to ETS in the Army. There are a few E(TM) Cdres and Admirals, but no dedicated 'branch' jobs.
    **We have historically been bad at promoting those who stray from their branch. I know a RN SF Officer (with operational decorations) who was promoted (to the surprise of everyone) by his source branch - he himself had probably resigned himself to no longer getting promoted!
  5. On the academic point, I was talking to a guy the other day, still serving, who somehow has got himself a gig doing a PhD paid for by the Army. Bright guy, and most definitely the sort of person we want, bags of op experiecne and a brain as well. 'Appen however, that he is a TA with absolutely no rank ambition at all. Just as well, as there is no way he could advance to serious rank if he did. As you say, there is no structure for it and the question would be asked 'why has he wasted his time doing this?' when he could have spent two or three years doing something more productive. Such as sitting in MOD MB staffing paint requisition protocols. Until very recently that was the case with Joint Service Special Duties as well; career kiss of death.
  6. "Worht remembering also, that Charlie Von C also doubted the sanity of anyone who decides to start a war without being clear what they are aiming to achieve, and how they are going to achieve it." - Stonker

    This is an argument against the way that politicians think, not the military! Reminds me of the old saw about Earl Haig talking to a soldier:

    Haig: "Where did you start the War?"

    Soldier: "I didn't start the War Sir - it was the Kaiser!"

    Badoom tish!

    I'm here all week.
  7. *tumbleweed*........
  8. I thank you - as I said, I'm here all week!

    Geez. The f***ing country needs to sort out its identity before we have the slightest possible chance of doing the same.
  9. Auld-Yin

    Auld-Yin LE Reviewer Book Reviewer Reviews Editor

    Notwithstanding the jokes that Bubbles used to tell in the Trenches, there is a new eBook out by Frank Ledwidge which is about the premise that the MoD has never realised the potential of inter-Service rivalry;which perhaps could help to inform and expand this discussion. The review by Captain Crusty of Frank's eBook "Punching Below Our Weight" can be found here.