Birdtables

#1
Folks

I am doing some research into the use of Birdtables and am looking at a comparison between the electronic kind over the usual paper map kind and was wondering if anyone would care to share their views and/ or experience of how they do things now.

If you do, please PM me with your thoughts or if you want more info from me about where I'm coming from then, again, PM me.

Cheers

OS
 
#2
OS, have pm'd you
 
#3
Oneshot said:
Folks

I am doing some research into the use of Birdtables and am looking at a comparison between the electronic kind over the usual paper map kind and was wondering if anyone would care to share their views and/ or experience of how they do things now.

If you do, please PM me with your thoughts or if you want more info from me about where I'm coming from then, again, PM me.

Cheers

OS
OS,

Apocryphal tale of a GOC who entered his Main HQ to discover it all set up with powerpoint slides, projectors and lights. He told the nearest siggy to turn off all the generators and then told the COS to start the brief. Only one or two of the staff branches could brief from their notebooks by torchlight. As a slightly sad and removed, G10 for men kinda guy, I prefer the option of a bird table that is no more dependent on technology than the printing machine that made the map approximately 20 years ago and the constrraints of a pencil and eraser.

However, if you are birdtabling in PJHQ (if they do such a thing) then I'm sure the all singing all dancing techno affair is probably the best thing going since the big display window on the Starship Enterprise.

You will note that I am struggling behind my desk, shining my arrse right now, despearte to be in a proper place of work.
 
#4
Big exercise last December we were all told not to use paper maps etc as we had this wonderful IT set up and programme. This lasted until the first crash, when all of a sudden the walls grew maps.
 
#5
Folks,

thanks for the comments and PMs, please keep them coming. I find its one of these things that we never seem to ask the user enough about what their experiences are or their thoughts about using this stuff for real.

Especially sories of using birdtables (new and old) which show the usefulness, or not, of them!

Cheers

OS
 
#6
If - and ah say IF - the use of techno gadgets improves the passage of information and reduces cycle times, then it is not unrealistic to regard it as a good idea.

It may even become mission-critical. There may be worthwhile things that cannot even be contemplated without having the right kit. Why, otherwise, do all the wise men get their knickers in a twist about our diminishing ability to work alongside US forces?

So the GOC who had the generator turned off might in future be seen as a bit of a Luddite. And reverting to maps at the first crash is a good example of the kind of improvisation and resilience that war demands, but why not put a bit more effort into producing a robust IT system that can deal with that sort of thing?
 
#7
Oneshot said:
Folks,

thanks for the comments and PMs, please keep them coming. I find its one of these things that we never seem to ask the user enough about what their experiences are or their thoughts about using this stuff for real.

Especially sories of using birdtables (new and old) which show the usefulness, or not, of them!

Cheers

OS
OS - I witnessed an attempt by a sig sqn in Poland to set up a bird table by using a powerpoint projection down from the roof of the tent suspended by bungees, as the wind blew the projector swung and at the critical moments the overlays indicated devastatingly inaccurate information - for example the mobility corridor running the length of the river, the bridging site identified in the middle of the forest etc. Not as amusing as it sounds at the moment, but afterwards how we laughed.
 
#8
Whilst I'm sure theres a time and place for modern techno pish, the trusted notebook and pencil has done the business everytime - Can't say I noticed many birdtables/powerpoint projectors on the landing crafts going into Normandy.......
 
#9
muzzleflash said:
Whilst I'm sure theres a time and place for modern techno pish, the trusted notebook and pencil has done the business everytime - Can't say I noticed many birdtables/powerpoint projectors on the landing crafts going into Normandy.......
Surely by the same token, I don't remember the Romans using automatic weapons and radar?? (Unless I was sleeping in that part of the history lesson)

On a serious note though, looking at electronic birdtables, my main concern is what happens in a powerloss. Does the technology (as i'm sure it is going to go that way) need to be more robust, or does it need to be used in a way to look at redundancy, IE all the planning needs done on paper, or useful printing options or would this just create more logistic nightmares.

I guess my problem is as well at the moment, I have never been in a "working" HQ where the Birdtable is used in ernest! Hence why I am asking opinions on here!

OS
 
#10
Chaps,

Agree - but have you ever been to HQ ARRC here are the myriad of birdtables were different from each other and only one came anywhere near to being accurate. If you have linked electronic birdtables - getting SA from Bowman or blue force tracker we might all have a better understanding of what is happening. Power loss is an issue so is a leaky tent on paper map or talc. Might stop blue on blue as well.
 
#11
I believe that we will, at some point, have to place our trust in technology (BCIP). How can we become a modern, digitized Army if, at the first hint of trouble the maps all come out again. If we revert to type in this way, what is the point of digitization?

Below is a link to a picture of an Israeli Div HQ concept:

Zayad

Note the lack of workstations. Is our biggest problem not the technology but our over staffed HQ, poor information management, poor power management and over-long Op Orders?
 
#12
If we were to take the use of electronics seriously, surely the birdtable becomes virtual and video conferencing allows sub-unit commanders to be briefed in situ?
 
#13
abacus said:
If we were to take the use of electronics seriously, surely the birdtable becomes virtual and video conferencing allows sub-unit commanders to be briefed in situ?
This is certainly being looked at, however it is well known that there is a lot of value in meeting face to face and briefing/being briefed in the same location. Obviously not that many org work completely remotely, but there is value in it. The American Navy maked extensive use of the "chat room" software and seem to like it and reports are generally quite good about the performance in relation to this. The question is, what is lost if you don't bring people together in real groups!!
 
#14
I have found that a wooden one works really well. Especially if it has a little roof to protect the bird seed from the elements and hooks underneath the table bit to hang fatty balls and nuts from. This format has really encouraged a lot of wild birds in to our garden - including a variety of tits and even a robin red breast
 

Cutaway

LE
Kit Reviewer
#15
CrapSpy said:
I believe that we will, at some point, have to place our trust in technology (BCIP). How can we become a modern, digitized Army if, at the first hint of trouble the maps all come out again.

...
Because when it all goes tits-up we'll still be able to get the job done.


CrapSpy said:
...

If we revert to type in this way, what is the point of digitization?

...
If we didn't we'd be in the US Army.
 

Cutaway

LE
Kit Reviewer
#16
civvy_tendencies said:
I have found that a wooden one works really well. Especially if it has a little roof to protect the bird seed from the elements and hooks underneath the table bit to hang fatty balls and nuts from. This format has really encouraged a lot of wild birds in to our garden - including a variety of tits and even a robin red breast
Not getting any Swallows ?
 
#17
Cutaway said:
CrapSpy said:
I believe that we will, at some point, have to place our trust in technology (BCIP). How can we become a modern, digitized Army if, at the first hint of trouble the maps all come out again.

...
Because when it all goes tits-up we'll still be able to get the job done.
So the question is one of reliability? After all, I'm not sure how well signallers are trained in morse or semaphore, how well the mortars are trained in books of firing tables, and I can still remember the whinging that happened in SCOTS DG when they took the 0.50 ranging guns out of Chieftain. (I was a pad rat at the time, so it must have been heavy whinging). How often does your CO ban GPS systems on exercise?

I work with electronic design for a living, so I obviously believe that paper and pencil (sharpened both ends) are better for most things military. But having been through the nausea that is trying to maintain an accurate and up-to-date map trace across the BG in the simple and unstressed world of CAST, I know that there are faster and more accurate ways of sharing that kind of information.

I suspect that the majority of G2/G3 IT support systems within formation and unit HQs are either written tolerably well by people that don't understand the problem, or written enthusiastically (*) by the people that do.

(* Not to say that they've done it badly, just that bringing out a well-tested software product is not a one- or two-person job. "Sgt Such-and-such is a right whizz with a PC" isn't going to bring out the perfect product in their spare time. But then, neither can Microsoft, and they've got billions of pounds and thousand of people working on the problem)
 
#18
civvy_tendencies said:
I have found that a wooden one works really well. Especially if it has a little roof to protect the bird seed from the elements and hooks underneath the table bit to hang fatty balls and nuts from. This format has really encouraged a lot of wild birds in to our garden - including a variety of tits and even a robin red breast
Thank you ct. You are clearly kind and will go to heaven.

Birdie
 
#19
hamster_man said:
Power loss is an issue so is a leaky tent on paper map or talc.
5AB Bde, start of evening conference, V keen G3 ops chappie (blues & royals IIRC), spots that some symbol is slightly smudged whips out can of solvent, dabs cloth, leans over and knocks 500ml of top quality solvent across the talc. Laugh? I though I was going to die.

Seriously though the notion of copying out traces and having riders/runners in all directions with big rolls of talc is plain nonsense, we need to get the information out faster. The problem seems to be that when it comes to IT the MOD always buys the dearest solution which means that it has to perform other tasks to allow the budgets to be combined to pay for what ever it is. The net result is that it is not reliable even if it does deliver whatever it was that the last staff officer thought of.

Civilian organisation do this sort of thing every day and pay buttons for it. I'm sitting at home (supposedly) trying to fix a customer admin problem, I can see every last thing that the customer has bought/broken/thought about and if I want to I can I watch him surfing for porn in real time. Basically I can do most of my job from anywhere on the planet that has a web browser, and have done so in various Paradigm caravans. On the other hand if I want to find what facilities were allegedly booked at Otterburn on my behalf I start with the telephone number on the DTE page of the MOD website and hope that someone helpful might be about.
 

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