Changing the army - how?

Bubbles_Barker

LE
Book Reviewer
Excellent.

So the FET was set to make people competitive to Blue and Pink.

And we wonder why people are so cynical about the Officer Career ecosystem…
I've never seen a FET purposefully created to make folk competitive but that's not say it doesn't happen. I have seen COs fight tooth and nail to get on the FET in the first place (see the Parachute Regiment for Op HAVEN, beaten to it by 3 Cdo Bde when it was actually an AMF(L) contingency area). I did a lot of operations and the ones I volunteered for (rather than was directly ordered to deploy on) were because it might be good for my career - 'a bloody war or a sickly season'. I can't see the issue there really.

So I think the point was more 'is this guy willing to put himself out there, or is he shirking around the back of the bike sheds because his Mrs will kick off if he volunteers'?
 

Bubbles_Barker

LE
Book Reviewer
Which, when you think about it, is bòllocks. Someone may have had an operational tour and been remarkably average, someone else may not have had the opportunity but may still be the better soldier.

There's also fitness to role. A good friend of mine was criticised for not promoting someone with more tours, given the choice of two individuals. He was steadfast, in that the role he had to fill required a meticulous organiser, which his choice was, and wasn't dependent on someone having had sand on his toecaps.
I don't disagree - but that's not how I meant it. I'm not sure it was ever a means of saying someone is better than someone else, other than exhibiting a willingness to deploy on ops, which, after all is what the military is all about.
 
I've never seen a FET purposefully created to make folk competitive but that's not say it doesn't happen. I have seen COs fight tooth and nail to get on the FET in the first place (see the Parachute Regiment for Op HAVEN, beaten to it by 3 Cdo Bde when it was actually an AMF(L) contingency area). I did a lot of operations and the ones I volunteered for (rather than was directly ordered to deploy on) were because it might be good for my career - 'a bloody war or a sickly season'. I can't see the issue there really.

So I think the point was more 'is this guy willing to put himself out there, or is he shirking around the back of the bike sheds because his Mrs will kick off if he volunteers'?

So, not to win…

I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m subject to the same pressures (hate game, not playa etc), but how on earth did we get in this situation?
 

Aquavite

Old-Salt
Far to many officers, period.
most of which are complete duffers, who live in the 18th century or it’s equivalent.
There are more Admirals than ships.
strip them out keeping the best of them to do the Mundane admin tasks, which is all the majority of them are fit for. Then promote from within, so that rank doesn’t stop at 22 years, but opens up a career structure which beniftis soldiers who have committed to the job. Not some horsy Henry who thinks gin, polo and Londonstanie are the Center of their military life.
if we need specialist troops such as Buck house guard, we’ll G4S, we’re good enough for the Olympics.
The military mission of the Armed forces is overrated anyway, British toms are not trained in Peacekeeping, and certain regiments totally unfit for the Job. Look at the reasons why those RMP’s died back in the day, and see which Regiment was causing problems to the local population a few miles away at the same time as the deaths of those 5 RMPs. You want Causation?
Tell us some more dits about bayonetting Argies or your....... 'taps nose'.....time with the SAS. You bullshitting cnut.
 

Bubbles_Barker

LE
Book Reviewer
So, not to win…

I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m subject to the same pressures (hate game, not playa etc), but how on earth did we get in this situation?
When you say, ‘So, not to win’ what precisely do you mean?
 
Which, when you think about it, is bòllocks.
Indeed: but I've seen the son of a Greenjacket General (public skule educated, fitted with golden bollox, never in his prior life a Fusilier) given command of a Fusilier battalion with an Op tour ahead, while the highly decorated 2 x tours with SAS (grammar school) Fusilier of identical vintage was assigned command of the only RRF battalion that didn't have an op tour scheduled during his tenure.

The 'jacket went on to 2*, the Fusilier topped out at full Col. Make of that what you will - but the 'lack of Op Comd experience at Lt Col' was anything but helpful to the Fusilier. . . . . .
 
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If the point is to maximise the number of Officers rotating through a particular tour - because that’s the rational, homo economicus, thing to do if you’re a conscientious CM trying to look after their plot - then many of the things we noted we *should* do couldn’t possibly be done. Things like long term deployments (12+ months), reinvestment of experience in theatre, growth of a proper strategy over years vice 12+ 6 month recycled “arrive, prep for big Op, big Op, R&R, write up MS” process.

This is a tri-Service issue…
 
If the point is to maximise the number of Officers rotating through a particular tour - because that’s the rational, homo economicus, thing to do if you’re a conscientious CM trying to look after their plot - then many of the things we noted we *should* do couldn’t possibly be done. Things like long term deployments (12+ months), reinvestment of experience in theatre, growth of a proper strategy over years vice 12+ 6 month recycled “arrive, prep for big Op, big Op, R&R, write up MS” process.

This is a tri-Service issue…
There's that theory (Adair, ISTR?) about proficient leadership reconciling the and balancing:
(a) The Task need;​
(b) The Team need, and;​
(c) The Individual's needs.​

If I have it right, Homo Economicus doesn't give a flying fvck about (a) or (b), so (c) is always the priority, (b) is a means to that end, and (a) is immaterial, unless fully achievable by Homo Economicus within his brief period of (nominal) responsibility, elsewise H.E. will bury bad news, ride roughshod over the needs of Team (and Country and Queen), the latter of which will reward the most egregiously ambitious/ "successful" incompetents with Knighthoods for their selfless devotion to diminishing the nation's capacity to defend itself..
 
There's that theory (Adair, ISTR?) about proficient leadership reconciling the and balancing:
(a) The Task need;​
(b) The Team need, and;​
(c) The Individual's needs.​

If I have it right, Homo Economicus doesn't give a flying fvck about (a) or (b), so (c) is always the priority, (b) is a means to that end, and (a) is immaterial, unless fully achievable by Homo Economicus within his brief period of (nominal) responsibility, elsewise H.E. will bury bad news, ride roughshod over the needs of Team (and Country and Queen), the latter of which will reward the most egregiously ambitious/ "successful" incompetents with Knighthoods for their selfless devotion to diminishing the nation's capacity to defend itself..
A further thought on Adair.

Adair’s writings are basically about small team leadership; getting a group of people to complete a discrete task in a defined timeframe. They say nothing about strategic leadership, organisational leadership, transformational leadership or thought leadership.

And yet the Army’s leadership culture is largely based around (or at least congruent with) Adair’s circles. Right up to Divisional command, commanders lead a small team of direct reports who each command standard building blocks of capability and so on downwards through a hierarchical pyramid. And, at every level they have positional power to fall back on.

Leaders are selected for promotion on the basis of their performance as small team leaders. And then, at VSO level they find themselves in a complex multi-stakeholder environment where they are leading an organisation, not a team. Where strategic leadership skill are key.

Maybe they’re set up to fail?
 
Mebbe not, but unless you articulate one, you've not got a scoobie where you're trying to get to,

Please see my post # 06 on page 1.

You will not get anywhere trying to be World Policemen, especially with an Army of 67k, less sick, lame and lazy.

'specially if every member of your top "strategic leadership" is on a 30-month contract as the final step before retirement and K.

I don't think w have any ' top strategic leadership ' We might have leadership that is quite good at being reactive - The proactive leadership appears to be the problem.

Which brings me on nicely to -

If we do not dictate and articulate ( we will continue to run around like headless chickens being dictated to as kiddy on World Policemen ) then we will always have reactive leadership instead of a proactive leadership.

Perhaps if we had proactive leadership instead of reactive leadership - Many of the issues that have been highlighted over the last 112 pages would be eradicated.
 

Caecilius

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
And, at every level they have positional power to fall back on.

I think this is an underappreciated problem. The majority of officers simply have no idea if they can lead at any level without positional power. There are a few joint areas where positional power is either weak or non-existent, but they're rare.
 

HE117

LE
A further thought on Adair.

Adair’s writings are basically about small team leadership; getting a group of people to complete a discrete task in a defined timeframe. They say nothing about strategic leadership, organisational leadership, transformational leadership or thought leadership.

And yet the Army’s leadership culture is largely based around (or at least congruent with) Adair’s circles. Right up to Divisional command, commanders lead a small team of direct reports who each command standard building blocks of capability and so on downwards through a hierarchical pyramid. And, at every level they have positional power to fall back on.

Leaders are selected for promotion on the basis of their performance as small team leaders. And then, at VSO level they find themselves in a complex multi-stakeholder environment where they are leading an organisation, not a team. Where strategic leadership skill are key.

Maybe they’re set up to fail?
Maybe overthought and/or a touch paranoic? More likely that this is the Military version of the Peter Principle..? (..people rise to their level of incompetence!)
 
I think this is an underappreciated problem. The majority of officers simply have no idea if they can lead at any level without positional power. There are a few joint areas where positional power is either weak or non-existent, but they're rare.
I think you have hit on a very good change that could be made to improve the Army and leadership of it.

Currently the mythology starts prior to and at AOSB - selecting those with 'leadership qualities', then RMAS with "Serve to Lead" and on to the Field Army.

The truth is few if any Junior Officers are required to lead in most circumstances as they are supported by SNCOs and WOs who ensure the execution of their ideas. Above Rifle Coy command the likelihood of an officer dealing directly with soldiers is slight to negligible. But all the time we trumpet ourselves as warriors and leaders of men (other genders available).

Then it's off to the staff to work in very small groups often as the subordinate to a subordinate etc, etc. After a couple of years of this it can be back to Regimental duties, completely rusty and out of touch, but required to demonstrate, you guessed it, 'leadership'

As you say Positional Leadership at best, heavily dependent on Coercive Leadership as the major underpinning to that.
 

Cynical

LE
Book Reviewer
how on earth did we get in this situation?
Loss of purpose, due to over hasty cutting in Options for Change - which of course removed many "difficult" officers who asked questions.

This lowered the bar of the gene pool, with many if the more talented resigning or seeking redundancies as they came.

Blundering into two ill conceived wars, and stating in them far too long, as VSO unwilling to confront political leadership with reality - quite possibly because the VSOs had got themselves into a group think that the Army had to fight wars to survive in the inter service cuts. Again, no Seal Lord or Air Marshall resigned as their services were eviscerated too.

Complete failure of anyone to rock the boat, and now the adoption of woke and tree hugging.
 

Mölders 1

War Hero
Loss of purpose, due to over hasty cutting in Options for Change - which of course removed many "difficult" officers who asked questions.

This lowered the bar of the gene pool, with many if the more talented resigning or seeking redundancies as they came.

Blundering into two ill conceived wars, and stating in them far too long, as VSO unwilling to confront political leadership with reality - quite possibly because the VSOs had got themselves into a group think that the Army had to fight wars to survive in the inter service cuts. Again, no Seal Lord or Air Marshall resigned as their services were eviscerated too.

Complete failure of anyone to rock the boat, and now the adoption of woke and tree hugging.
The Finest Comment In The Thread In My Opinion.
 

Cynical

LE
Book Reviewer
If I have it right,
In theory, you don't as the individual needs are the needs of the individuals in the team (of whom the leader is but one).
The cavalry officer has a better adage;
First my horse (now vehicle)
Then my men
Then myself

Of course WFM has buggered the knowledge base to do the first, the rise of the HR function undermines the second
 
I think you have hit on a very good change that could be made to improve the Army and leadership of it.

Currently the mythology starts prior to and at AOSB - selecting those with 'leadership qualities', then RMAS with "Serve to Lead" and on to the Field Army.

The truth is few if any Junior Officers are required to lead in most circumstances as they are supported by SNCOs and WOs who ensure the execution of their ideas. Above Rifle Coy command the likelihood of an officer dealing directly with soldiers is slight to negligible. But all the time we trumpet ourselves as warriors and leaders of men (other genders available).

Then it's off to the staff to work in very small groups often as the subordinate to a subordinate etc, etc. After a couple of years of this it can be back to Regimental duties, completely rusty and out of touch, but required to demonstrate, you guessed it, 'leadership'

As you say Positional Leadership at best, heavily dependent on Coercive Leadership as the major underpinning to that.
My experience is that in peacetime, Junior Officers do not lead. They oversee, administrate, direct, occasionally educate, and act as a moral brake when they have the character and perception to do so. They may even devise plans, give orders and attempt to navigate with maps. The army confuses a managerial role with leadership.

Platoon Sergeants lead. They are the men who the others fear, respect, and instinctively follow. They also set the tone is a platoon and young soldiers will imitate them.

Good Officers are respected and liked, but very few Privates and Junior NCOs acknowledge Junior Officers as their leaders. They probably haven't for a couple of generations.
 
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