CGS: British Army to get US style 'Commissioned Warrant Officers'?

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by jim30, Jul 9, 2017.

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  1. Well to be accurate introduced by the John Major administration in 1992.
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  2. CS = Civil Service, yes? Well, would anyone hold up the civil service as an example of how things should be done? ;-)

    It should be noted that for the kind of people I have been thinking of, public understanding, uniform, even "respect" are not important. They are mostly motivated by challenge and/or money. They will go wherever they have the best money and challenges.

    I think there is an element of talking at cross-purposes here. Are we clear on what the proposals under discussion are really about? There is, for an example, a difference between offensive cyberwarfare (which is the sort of exciting new area that I've been thinking of) versus relatively routine IT configuration, support and security and comms (whether in the field or in the office). I would imagine that much of the latter can fit within conventional military structures.

    As I am sure you know, the traditional way of maintaining retention in this environment is simply to pay more (and more, and more) on individually negotiated pay rates. However, in the most exciting and newest fields, exciting challenges seem to matter as much as money. But, as I mention above, uniform and so on are only likely to be turn offs in these new fields.

    Yes, I think this reflects my comments about cross-purposes and knowing what is being proposed and where it is expected to be applied. You need solid, reliable people or contractors to do infrastructure right (and not connect it to the Internet unnecessarily and to maintain proper physical and network security!). However, there are new areas of technology and warfare (that are separate to traditional IT work, even life- and mission-critical IT work) that do not map well to the present Army model, and it is these new areas that I was really thinking of and which seem to me to be ripe for direct hiring from outside of the Army hierarchy.

    I have a little experience of this from the contractor side (working for a company chasing public sector outsourcing contracts) and I'd say that the main problem seems to be pi$$-poor negotiators on the public side who are, at the end of the day, not risking their own money. And so, time and time again, contracts get awarded to the same old corporate hospitality providers whose main skillset is getting contracts (and, I should add, the specifications are often very badly written by people who apparently had no familiarity with the system/job to be implemented).
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2017
  3. Right, so the issue around pay and retention is made all the more acute and perhaps worse not better by using non-mil staff, before you even get to what skills and experience people bring to that party, if I understand that correctly?

    Yes working within the right legal framework is vitally important but broadly speaking in terms of people the basic distinction boils down to, what are you doing, who are you and who do you work for. Are you doing something which needs to be enabled by a statutory power? If so how do you get that power by virtue of: Are you the holder of an office which enables a statutory power? Are you working for an organisation that holds a statutory power?

    There has been a trend away from office towards role and organisation in legislation in recent years to enable this kind of organisational agility. Hopefully we trend towards fewer legislatively driven and more task driven organisation (because we want to focus on the task at hand, in the right context with the right oversight and control).

    I don't quite get the Israeli point but that's because I'm likely just ignorant :)

    There's that bridge again ;)

    Back to the what power are you using, I've seen a trend that's followed the legislation (and actually for a long time civis have been doing stuff that people always assumed you needed to be 'a something' to do).

    As for service police, I have zero understanding of what 'warranted' means for them. One example I've heard from the civi side of the fence is people exercising powers should be as close to the problem or knowledge at hand. I'm not explaining this very well, but, personal responsibility in the justification of a use of a statutory power has increased. That means that, if the answer to the question "Why did you do that, was it necessary?" is "Because someone else said I should" doesn't wash. Not because perhaps it ever did but what they're getting pressed on is "necessary" and that's your obligation as the person exercising the power, you need to get it. What better way to get it than to insist on their being one and the same person?

    That an remember, why use a specialist when you can shoe horn a generalist into a role when you can't make them redundant?
  4. I agree, which is why I ask about where the bias lies. However, true to form, (my bold) I agree with the sentiment but disagree with the conclusion save for the italics (which has thrown me)

    It can fit into the conventional structure but if it doesn't have to why would you force it?
  5. You're not the first one to suggest that. I believe that can live within a hosting organisation, others don't.
  6. It seems to me that using non-traditional military staff in certain roles (mainly entirely new sorts of role) inevitably will make retention and pay cost issues all the more acute but it's a moot point since the necessary sort of people in these certain new types of role simply can't and won't come from within the traditional military structure (at least not in large numbers).

    This is perhaps why these new roles are best suited to an entirely new force with its own structure and a culture that is more compatible with the sorts of organisations that are worldwide competitor for the sorts of staff in question.
  7. I agree with almost all of that apart from one bit, and perhaps it's more of a concern or risk than an objection. The owners of many of the problems already exist with their own missions, tools and staff. My big worry is that the new force don't get used properly by the end customer because they're outsiders, they have a cost associated with them and all the other relationship problems which seems to get brushed aside in a 'disciplined uniformed service'.

    Or does the new force take on missions a new (I'd say the services have a good model here, not unlike your suggestion) and away from others?

    In short who's got the problems and where are they will affect how successful your new force will be.

    Assuming the legislative backdrop is solved and let's just roll with it and say it is.

    edit: Phone ate my draft, soz
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2017
  8. Big round building in Gloucestershire, not bad for that based on people I've met.
  9. I agree, if it (whatever "it" turns out to be) doesn't have to fit in the conventional structure then don't force it; let it develop its own new structure (within or without an existing organisation).

    I.e. In order to facilitate entirely new roles and culture, if you can set up an entirely new independent organisation, or if you can set up a new autonomous sub-organisation within an existing organisation, or if you can implement a new structure within the current host organisation, then do so. Whichever works best. Do not force anything to fit where it is not a natural fit.

    But we're being pragmatic and objective here. It's easy to say all this with emotional detachment. However, each of the three possible organisational solutions I mentioned above will have problems because they all upset the status quo. Setting up a new independent organisation will be fought because it will be seen as taking away funding, focus and resources from the Army. Setting up an autonomous sub-organisation requires long term discipline to let it develop its own way and to not meddle or 'integrate' it. And setting up entirely new structures, ranks, and culture within the existing organisation will be fought because the old guard don't like new whippersnappers and their un-military ways and the fact that they've been hired in at a higher rank.

    So the psychological pressures almost always seem to be to be make what should be a new culture fit in an old culture that is not suited to it.

    In principle yes, it could and should be able to live within an existing host organisation. But due to the issues I outlines above, I think it could be difficult. Old organisations resist change, and this would be a very significant change.
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2017
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  10. Yes, this is an issue but it's a matter of the new force having the right political sponsors and of building them into the UK's strategic order of battle. It's an issue for any new facility, I'd think, at all sorts of levels.

    Maybe, probably, is the best I can say.

    Yes, I don't see why this would be a problem other than for a few bolshie MPs who might want to make trouble to benefit their own careers. ;-)

    Yes, I was thinking of them. However, as I understand it, their traditional role has been communications interception and decryption (both research and operational).

    Should GCHQ be involved in (well, continue to be involved in) offensive activities, or should this be an Army role, or should it be a role for a new force entirely?

    What is likely to be the best way forward will, as discussed above, be severely impacted by turf wars and by fears of upsetting the status quo. The only thing I am relatively certain of is that the Army's traditional ways of working are unsuitable to attract the kind of people now needed for offensive cyberwarfare operations; they go elsewhere, to Google, to Cheltenham to an extent, to Facebook, to startups, and so on.
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  11. I think you need a root and branch review and sticking with the cyber theme as it's a big one, it's broader than the three national strategy pillars of defend, deter and develop. It's one about a cross-government need based on incumbent mission.

    A piece of analysis that whilst potentially never, ever, ever, ever, ending might stand some hope if it looked at the existing organisations. It would need to be comprised of people who could objectively look at the work (and needs) of the security services (paying particular attention to the work at HQ as already the centre of one universe) and the armed forces and take a view across missions, statutory duties and legislation.

    Oh well, nevermind!
  12. Cross pollination is something which I advocated earlier. Don't try to retain forever, let your children grow up and leave home taking good behaviors with them.
  13. Hi. We're now talking about things* where I am going to stfu, not least because I actually know what is going on and it's not appropriate to divulge that without boring journeys to seek permission (and, in most cases, declassification.)

    Well, fine. But I'm not going to risk my clearance and with it all bar one of my civilian contracts as well as my Army Reserve role, just for the sake of playing one-upmanship games on an internet forum. Call me selfish or cowardly or whatever.

    PS - it's also against site rules.
    * Like the role of GCHQ and the military in offensive cyber warfare.
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  14. An answer to one last and less sensitive question.
    It is possible to be a member of a service police unit, regiment etc without holding a police warrant card.

    In the distant past, Naval Regulating Branch weren't warranted.
  15. Only if you are wearing your headgear - another British tradition that will also probably go. The number of times American officers have asked me or my guys, "Why don't you salute me soldier?" Trying to explain that in the British Commonwealth you only salute in uniform and if you are not wearing a hat you are not in uniform is bit deep for US officers. To be honest I can see their point of view as it is a bit silly.