Changing the army - how?

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 don’t believe it is paranoic to doubt the ability of the Army’s strategic leadership.

In the 30 years since Options for a Change, the senior leadership has but once delivered a coherent vision of what the future Army should be capable of doing, what it should look like in terms of strength, regular v reserve blend, equipment and how it should operate. Successive CGS’s have delivered different ideas, none of which have been delivered.

Meantime, the senior leadership has presided over two military defeat, failed to deliver key equipment programs and made a mess of its recruitment program.

And no, I don’t think it’s good enough to accept that it’s the Peter Principle. It’s simply not good enough to do so; we should be asking why the Army has selected and developed a succession of failed strategic leaders. Because that’s what they are. And that needs careful root cause analysis of why we end up with such poor strategic leadership.
 
Successive CGS’s have delivered different ideas, none of which have been delivered.

And this is the source of many problems that have been highlighted in this thread.

Successive CGS's should not be delivering different idea's, every 2 - 4 years

Hardly surprising ( that as a business model, you like business models, eh Bob ) that it is a ****ing shambles.

So tied up in verbosity, buzzwords and trying to look cool, we have forgotten or thrown out the KISS it principle.

With an Army of @ 72k ( less sick, lame and lazy ) it does not get easier than

  • Defence of the UK
  • Defence of Overseas Territories
  • A standing commitment to NATO
  • SF / SFSG for limited overseas excursions in support of allies.
About a 1/3 of the current strength of the British Army was deployed on OP Banner at it's peak - Yet we have idiots, both Military and Political that have delusions of grandeur that we can be World Policemen.
 

Cold_Collation

LE
Book Reviewer
And this is the source of many problems that have been highlighted in this thread.

Successive CGS's should not be delivering different idea's, every 2 - 4 years

Hardly surprising ( that as a business model, you like business models, eh Bob ) that it is a ****ing shambles.

So tied up in verbosity, buzzwords and trying to look cool, we have forgotten or thrown out the KISS it principle.

With an Army of @ 72k ( less sick, lame and lazy ) it does not get easier than

  • Defence of the UK
  • Defence of Overseas Territories
  • A standing commitment to NATO
  • SF / SFSG for limited overseas excursions in support of allies.
About a 1/3 of the current strength of the British Army was deployed on OP Banner at it's peak - Yet we have idiots, both Military and Political that have delusions of grandeur that we can be World Policemen.
I used to do the PR and outreach for a Norwegian technology firm. It got to the point where reorganisation was happening very few months.

It was a failing business and is now a fraction of the size.

The problem was that any ‘vision’ wasn’t able to bed in. Hence, any vision ‘failed’.
 
Cannot disagree with the thrust of your comment.

A couple of points - Purely IMHO

I used to do the PR

PR can be as toxic as HR if it is not kept a grip of.

The problem was that any ‘vision’ wasn’t able to bed in. Hence, any vision ‘failed’.

I have an issue with the word ' vision ' in the context of the Army / VSO's.

When you have unlimited money trees / gullible fools who are willing to throw money like rice at a Chinese wedding - Visions are great.

In the context of the Army - It needs a clearly defined plan. It then needs someone with perhaps the vision, but certainly the capability of delivering that plan.

CGS's, who change every 2 - 4 years and inject their ( differing ) ideas. IMHO is the very essence of why this thread exists.

Where was the vision from the backroom team working on Options for Change ? Their crystal ball vision didn't see being b@ll deep in Iraq & Afghanistan in less than 10 years from implementation.
 

Cold_Collation

LE
Book Reviewer
Cannot disagree with the thrust of your comment.

A couple of points - Purely IMHO



PR can be as toxic as HR if it is not kept a grip of.



I have an issue with the word ' vision ' in the context of the Army / VSO's.

When you have unlimited money trees / gullible fools who are willing to throw money like rice at a Chinese wedding - Visions are great.

In the context of the Army - It needs a clearly defined plan. It then needs someone with perhaps the vision, but certainly the capability of delivering that plan.

CGS's, who change every 2 - 4 years and inject their ( differing ) ideas. IMHO is the very essence of why this thread exists.

Where was the vision from the backroom team working on Options for Change ? Their crystal ball vision didn't see being b@ll deep in Iraq & Afghanistan in less than 10 years from implementation.
My PR role was incidental - I needn't have mentioned it beyond explaining my relationship to the organisation. Upon reflection, I wish I hadn't.

Ditto 'vision'. A problem is that we are trapped in a cycle of 'visions' rather than a (singular) strategy or, as you term it, a plan.

Carter can't see past light infantry and the Leather Personnel Carrier (copyright @ugly). In other words, 'strategic' thinking which delivers individuals to the fight at 3mph who are already knackered and who are easily mopped up by the lightest of artillery.

Where I would challenge you is that we don't have money trees. Some people might think and act like we do, the reality is that we're strapped, utterly. At that point, prudence is needed - prudence and, as you say, a plan.

The problem we have is that it's going to take a decade or two to deliver something meaningful in terms of change. I think the observation that the RN/RAF have delivered on SDR 98 is a good one. The Army has cocked about.

...but we are where we are. Change starts now but people can't expect to deliver it in 20 minutes.

Stand by for the next flailing-of-the-arms exercise army strategic review soon...
 
My PR role was incidental - I needn't have mentioned it beyond explaining my relationship to the organisation. Upon reflection, I wish I hadn't.

My bad - It was not my meaning that perhaps YOU were instrumental in the decline of the Company that you were representing.

Where I would challenge you is that we don't have money trees.

I know - And I thought that I had made the distinction clear between the Army ( No magic money trees ) and Business ( who can tap the gullible to fund ) their visions.

Change starts now but people can't expect to deliver it in 20 minutes.

Does it ?

Pretty pointless starting change now. I would have thought that a nailed down plan would be needed before we started changing anything.

Otherwise - We will have change for the sake of change, with no idea what we are supposed to be changing into.
 
Cannot disagree with the thrust of your comment.

A couple of points - Purely IMHO



PR can be as toxic as HR if it is not kept a grip of.



I have an issue with the word ' vision ' in the context of the Army / VSO's.

When you have unlimited money trees / gullible fools who are willing to throw money like rice at a Chinese wedding - Visions are great.

In the context of the Army - It needs a clearly defined plan. It then needs someone with perhaps the vision, but certainly the capability of delivering that plan.

CGS's, who change every 2 - 4 years and inject their ( differing ) ideas. IMHO is the very essence of why this thread exists.

Where was the vision from the backroom team working on Options for Change ? Their crystal ball vision didn't see being b@ll deep in Iraq & Afghanistan in less than 10 years from implementation.
Coincidentally, and just before GW1, Options and mass redundancies, my unit was on a training camp. Those of us on the training wing staff had pulled in a lot of favours to make the training more interesting. Then, just before the NBC lesson, German tv showing news from Halabja, which had just been gassed.
Without exception the training team " knew" Iraq would be on our itineraries before long. That's Cpls to WOs though, not " leaders".
 

Cold_Collation

LE
Book Reviewer
My bad - It was not my meaning that perhaps YOU were instrumental in the decline of the Company that you were representing.



I know - And I thought that I had made the distinction clear between the Army ( No magic money trees ) and Business ( who can tap the gullible to fund ) their visions.



Does it ?

Pretty pointless starting change now. I would have thought that a nailed down plan would be needed before we started changing anything.

Otherwise - We will have change for the sake of change, with no idea what we are supposed to be changing into.
Oh, I dunno. By the end I'd have been happy to help with the demise. :-D

In terms of change starting now, that includes the preparatory work and definition of an end state. From where we are, I'd say that the first thing to do is nothing. The mistake being made is to try and effect change (perhaps evolution might be a better word...) with what we have to hand. That's never going to work (but then neither is a handful, in strategic terms, of Rangers).

The effect, and the impression, is of headless chickens.
 
In terms of change starting now, that includes the preparatory work and definition of an end state.

And therein lies the problem.

That end state will never be defined - The Politico's do not have the b@lls and the VSO's / Army Board are never going to define something that sees the Officer Corp ( in it's current guise ) slashed to the bone.
 
Absolutely - officer candidates in the Austro-Hungarian Army did a year in the ranks and dined in the officers mess.
Same with the Finnish. Wouldn't like to be on the wrong side of them!!!!!!!!. No Swedification in their Army.
 
Good Officers are respected and liked, but very few Privates and Junior NCOs acknowledge Junior Officers as their leaders.
I disagree. A good junior officer can make all the difference to a platoon, and can turn a bad one into a good one. The reverse is also true. Admittedly it helps if the officer has a competent (or better yet excellent) SNCO to school him along the way.

The exam question around this particular role is why does the army (or, at least, infantry regiments) cling to the practice of ruling people in/out for a crack at greatness (by selecting/de-selecting for the role of Adjutant) at such an early stage in the life of a commissioned officer?
 

Cold_Collation

LE
Book Reviewer
I disagree. A good junior officer can make all the difference to a platoon, and can turn a bad one into a good one. The reverse is also true. Admittedly it helps if the officer has a competent (or better yet excellent) SNCO to school him along the way.

The exam question around this particular role is why does the army (or, at least, infantry regiments) cling to the practice of ruling people in/out for a crack at greatness (by selecting/de-selecting for the role of Adjutant) at such an early stage in the life of a commissioned officer?
Someone who is concerned about the welfare of his/her charges from the outset will likely carry that ethos through their career.
 
Someone who is concerned about the welfare of his/her charges from the outset will likely carry that ethos through their career.
Because Adjudant is the key appointment to advance acareer. Basically no or bad adjudant in your career means top end Major and that is it.
 

QRK2

LE
I disagree. A good junior officer can make all the difference to a platoon, and can turn a bad one into a good one. The reverse is also true. Admittedly it helps if the officer has a competent (or better yet excellent) SNCO to school him along the way.

The exam question around this particular role is why does the army (or, at least, infantry regiments) cling to the practice of ruling people in/out for a crack at greatness (by selecting/de-selecting for the role of Adjutant) at such an early stage in the life of a commissioned officer?

That was true in your day, but in the year or less that many are now in post for (in their only rifle (or equivalent) pl comd) after STA training nowadays it is very difficult (but not of course absolutely impossible) to make any meaningful impact.

It's not dissimilar from expected a unit in recent operational theatre for six months to have a lasting effect.
 
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I disagree. A good junior officer can make all the difference to a platoon, and can turn a bad one into a good one. The reverse is also true. Admittedly it helps if the officer has a competent (or better yet excellent) SNCO to school him along the way.
I think that depends on individual unit culture. There are (or certainly were) battalions with a tranche of very tough and assertive NCOs. Even the best junior officers find it very difficult to make any impact when NCOs have too much power and dominate the day to day life of a platoon.

In these circumstances, officers are pushed into a more remote managerial status, deriving what authority they have from QRs and the chain of command, rather than genuine leadership. That becomes self-perpetuating as they promote and move on to wider command. I have served in platoons where the NCOs were a law unto themselves and many privates were either their wild dogs on a leash, or unhappy but compliant followers. I could see how daunting that was for junior officers (many of whom weren't up to scratch anyway). Being treated with cold contempt, and shown minimal cooperation by hardened corporals was reality that Sandhurst hadn't prepared them for. When there is a shortage of officers, and sister platoons are commanded by colour sergeants, new subalterns are basically lost.

Good junior officers, in partnership with good sergeants, are worth their weight in gold. Generally, I think that the army makes too many complacent assumptions about the leadership role (and leadership capacity) of junior officers. It may need a rethink. The relationship between platoon commander and platoon sergeant has shifted, as have their de facto roles, and the army hasn't caught up.
 

QRK2

LE
It may need a rethink. The relationship between platoon commander and platoon sergeant has shifted, as have their de facto roles, and the army hasn't caught up.

That is certainly true, not least as these days they are frequently of about the same age, the 2Lt is no longer an 18 year old who was at Stowe a year (or 6 months if via Mons) before.
 
I think that depends on individual unit culture. There are (or certainly were) battalions with a tranche of very tough and assertive NCOs. Even the best junior officers find it very difficult to make any impact when NCOs have too much power and dominate the day to day life of a platoon.

In these circumstances, officers are pushed into a more remote managerial status, deriving what authority they have from QRs and the chain of command, rather than genuine leadership. That becomes self-perpetuating as they promote and move on to wider command. I have served in platoons where the NCOs were a law unto themselves and many privates were either their wild dogs on a leash, or unhappy but compliant followers. I could see how daunting that was for junior officers (many of whom weren't up to scratch anyway). Being treated with cold contempt, and shown minimal cooperation by hardened corporals was reality that Sandhurst hadn't prepared them for. When there is a shortage of officers, and sister platoons are commanded by colour sergeants, new subalterns are basically lost.

Good junior officers, in partnership with good sergeants, are worth their weight in gold. Generally, I think that the army makes too many complacent assumptions about the leadership role (and leadership capacity) of junior officers. It may need a rethink. The relationship between platoon commander and platoon sergeant has shifted, as have their de facto roles, and the army hasn't caught up.
Do platoons actually need an officer in charge? Could it not be led, permanently, by a SNCO or WO?
I don't know about infantry, but in my old Corps subalterns appeared from the factory, were given nominal command of a platoon, and generally disappeared within a couple of months to undertake one or other long technical course, and rarely ever seen again.
Meanwhile the work continued without them.
 
Do platoons actually need an officer in charge? Could it not be led, permanently, by a SNCO or WO?
I don't know about infantry, but in my old Corps subalterns appeared from the factory, were given nominal command of a platoon, and generally disappeared within a couple of months to undertake one or other long technical course, and rarely ever seen again.
Meanwhile the work continued without them.
Do platoons actually need an officer in charge?

In my opinion yes. At least in the Infantry. There tends to be a reversion to barbarism without them.

That choice of phrase is slightly tongue in cheek, but you get my drift.

Very bad things can happen, very quickly, if you don't have officers to apply a moral break. At the least, their presence creates a more balanced perspective in a unit.
 
Do platoons actually need an officer in charge? Could it not be led, permanently, by a SNCO or WO?
I don't know about infantry, but in my old Corps subalterns appeared from the factory, were given nominal command of a platoon, and generally disappeared within a couple of months to undertake one or other long technical course, and rarely ever seen again.
Meanwhile the work continued without them.
Heresy....... :grin:
 
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