Changing the army - how?

Mr_Relaxed

War Hero
By way of background, the post of Commander Amphibious Forces was planned to be deleted in 2018 (fully two people before Maj Gen Holmes), and with it the tied post of CGRM.

The 2* post of CGRM had a stay of execution then based on significant furore around the “future of amphibious shipping” during the MDP era (17-18) which was absolutely stoked by the Corps. This included things such as them coincidentally inviting Johnny Mercer to CTCRM, and well informed “discussions” appearing in friendly newspapers. One of the many results was a HoC Defence Select Committee report that included a host of detail that coincidentally bolstered Royal’s argument at that time.


Although I’d note that both the FAA and SM Service were playing silly games, CSG coming over the horizon meant they had different focuses.

The arrival of the “Trinity” in 2019 was well telegraphed, including their desire to cut NCHQ in half, which included a significant reduction in the star count.

As part of transformation, each of the dedicated 2*s for Surface, SM, Aviation, RM, Training, Pers, Scotland and NI were cut. Some were vested in an individual with more than one responsibility, the rest were devolved down to 1* or OF5. Maj Gen Holmes knew before taking the post that was the direction of travel and that his job was absolutely in scope (noting the axe had been hanging over it for 18+ months already).

There was and is significant poor behaviour in NCHQ, including consent and evade, or simple slow rolling of clear 4* and 3* direction - if a Cpl had behaved in the same way to a SSgt I imagine the former would be in Colchester by now. Undoubtedly there were terse emails, but there were also day long strategy sessions by the Naval Executive Committee (inc all our NEDs), and many more small groupings.

Someone within the Corps saw fit to leak what was going on in an attempt to bounce 1SL out of it, and it didn’t work. It also probably fractured any sense of trust in the senior leadership team.

I am genuinely and terribly sorry that Matt Holmes took his own life, and any pressure he may have felt as a result of the office of CGRM stopping being a dedicated 2*. But that doesn’t mean that the latter action wasn’t the wrong thing to do when looked upon in the totality of the change we’re undergoing.
The sad thing is you could find and replace “Royal Navy” with most large corporate names. Or for that matter a number of Civil Service departments and probably not skip a beat.

It’s very frustrating to spend time on strategy sessions when I was a group accountant, to find subsidiary MD’s moving the goal posts they’d just agreed, and that was a small corporate with more scope to “grip” the offenders.
 
And that I think you will find is the problem, V&S, all here I bet can recount moments when V&S were over looked, or even ignored on numerous occasions by VSO and lower. Moral courage and all the other trappings of the army ethos etc are a great standard to hold people to, however, they are only as good as those who enforce them, and nowadays the times when they are not, or indeed when the old adage of ‘do as I say, not as I do’ are becoming more and more prevalent. Again, my own POV many may disagree, but debate is important in these situations.
As @stacker1 has commented before, sadly, moral courage only seems to apply to grassing up soldiers and holding people to account for other minor infractions such as not saluting. It is now extending to ED&I because it is politically trendy to do so.

Moral courage should complement the "challenge culture", where folk should be empowered to have the courage to speak up - I don't mean limited to challenging behaviours that make you feel uncomfortable - I mean challenging planning that gets people killed or wastes resources.

Sadly, less a in few niche organisations, this isn't the case. We still have a cadre of senior leaders who rely on command, not leadership. The removal of few 1*s recently confirms this.
 
Technically he does, and he exercised it: when promoted to OF5 and above, you’re on a “blood chit”. In effect, you only have a job as long as the RN wants you (subject to a minimum term of 2 jobs/6 years for OF5/6). For 2* and above, it is explicit that you’re employed at the direction of 1SL, and your contract may end at any point. Obviously there’s resettlement etc that can be taken.
I’m not sure we necessarily have the same view of the power of hire and fire!

Both my partner and I have been fired from board level corporate roles; in her case she reported to work to find her building pass didn’t work. Along with the (by then) former CEO to whom she reported, the CFO and COO.
 

Mr_Relaxed

War Hero
I’m not sure we necessarily have the same view of the power of hire and fire!

Both my partner and I have been fired from board level corporate roles; in her case she reported to work to find her building pass didn’t work. Along with the (by then) former CEO to whom she reported, the CFO and COO.
But in those cases, it’s a question of ”what’s your magic number?” which helps numb the pain and a Non Disclosure Agreement.

And it’s also an accepted part of the corporate world - you live your working life at a senior level knowing it can all go wrong, through no fault of your own if the face doesn’t fit, or there’s a difference of opinion.

But it’s not part and parcel of the military I’d suggest, outside of a major conflict.
 
But in those cases, it’s a question of ”what’s your magic number?” which helps numb the pain and a Non Disclosure Agreement.

And it’s also an accepted part of the corporate world - you live your working life at a senior level knowing it can all go wrong, through no fault of your own if the face doesn’t fit, or there’s a difference of opinion.

But it’s not part and parcel of the military I’d suggest, outside of a major conflict.
Yes, but that’s how strategic leaders get to shape their teams. Far better to get rid of the change blocker and write off the costs than to keep the toxicity.

VSOs are already on one tour terms.
 

Bubbles_Barker

LE
Book Reviewer
If you don’t, someone else might, if they feel a need for some counter balance. Suspect the press is already digging.

Problem with email is that few people write well, and there’s often no filter. Sometimes you need a colleague to do a pre-read and listen out for the sharp intake of breath. ;)
I often do this - saves me a lot of trouble.
 

Yokel

LE
By way of background, the post of Commander Amphibious Forces was planned to be deleted in 2018 (fully two people before Maj Gen Holmes), and with it the tied post of CGRM.

The 2* post of CGRM had a stay of execution then based on significant furore around the “future of amphibious shipping” during the MDP era (17-18) which was absolutely stoked by the Corps. This included things such as them coincidentally inviting Johnny Mercer to CTCRM, and well informed “discussions” appearing in friendly newspapers. One of the many results was a HoC Defence Select Committee report that included a host of detail that coincidentally bolstered Royal’s argument at that time.


Although I’d note that both the FAA and SM Service were playing silly games, CSG coming over the horizon meant they had different focuses.

The arrival of the “Trinity” in 2019 was well telegraphed, including their desire to cut NCHQ in half, which included a significant reduction in the star count.

As part of transformation, each of the dedicated 2*s for Surface, SM, Aviation, RM, Training, Pers, Scotland and NI were cut. Some were vested in an individual with more than one responsibility, the rest were devolved down to 1* or OF5. Maj Gen Holmes knew before taking the post that was the direction of travel and that his job was absolutely in scope (noting the axe had been hanging over it for 18+ months already).

There was and is significant poor behaviour in NCHQ, including consent and evade, or simple slow rolling of clear 4* and 3* direction - if a Cpl had behaved in the same way to a SSgt I imagine the former would be in Colchester by now. Undoubtedly there were terse emails, but there were also day long strategy sessions by the Naval Executive Committee (inc all our NEDs), and many more small groupings.

Someone within the Corps saw fit to leak what was going on in an attempt to bounce 1SL out of it, and it didn’t work. It also probably fractured any sense of trust in the senior leadership team.

I am genuinely and terribly sorry that Matt Holmes took his own life, and any pressure he may have felt as a result of the office of CGRM stopping being a dedicated 2*. But that doesn’t mean that the latter action wasn’t the wrong thing to do when looked upon in the totality of the change we’re undergoing.

Slightly off topic, once upon a time I looked at the listing of FTRS jobs and there were vacancies for 180 days per year posts for an OF6 and an OF7 - could that be a way of giving the fighting arms someone to bat for them but without the need for a full time post that is separate from operational command or force generation.

I note that the conspiracy theorists here and places like PPRuNe have tried to claim Radakin spent all the budget on the carriers, despite not being promoted to Flag Rank until 2014, have claimed that they carriers are useless as they could not be used before they were built, have claimed that there is no possible need to protect amphibious forces using surface combatants or carrier aircraft, and that amphibious capabilities have been cut.

Yet things like Future Commando Force were intended to protect the Royal Marines from being seen as just another light infantry brigade, and to tie them in with amphibious platforms and other aspects of the 'Future Navy'. How can people claim that amphibious capabilities have been cut when we have stood up one standing Littoral Response Group (with LPD and LSD(A)), and another one will stand up in 2023? Both will have Bootnecks attached full time - as I understand companies from 40 Cdo and 45 Cdo will be rotated. The Carrier Strike Group will have a company from 42 Cdo.

I am not sure if non dark blue types really appreciate the problems the RN had with manpower issues in the years post SDSR 10 and SDSR 15. Something had to be done to get more ships to sea with a full complement. As far as I know that has been achieved - but achieving that meant changes and pain. As I see it the 'Future Navy' has already been largely achieved. Specifying what the Navy's outputs were was significant in making things coherent in a way they had not been before, Orientating the organisation to make it happen, despite understandable resistance, was leadership. Of course it helped that the Fleet Commander and Second Sea Lord posts were also held by innovators.

Nope

I am stating, that IMO, as I stated yesterday, that the composer of said email is a b@wb@g

I once went to augment a major NATO exercise, My 'employing officer' wrote a report which reflected well on me, and I shook his hand and thanked him. A couple of weeks later my unit CO castigated me for a perceived failure, and the same for a period of being mobilised. Nothing that the complaints process and a 1* could not sort out!

Sometimes readers' perceptions are so screwed up by prejudices that the writer might as well have had sent something completely different.
 
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Slightly off topic, once upon a time I looked at the listing of FTRS jobs and there were vacancies for 180 days per year posts for an OF6 and an OF7 - could that be a way of giving the fighting arms someone to bat for them but without the need for a full time post that is separate from operational command or force generation.

I note that the conspiracy theorists here and places like PPRuNe have tried to claim Radakin spent all the budget on the carriers, despite not being promoted to Flag Rank until 2014, have claimed that they carriers are useless as they could not be used before they were built, have claimed that there is no possible need to protect amphibious forces using surface combatants or carrier aircraft, and that amphibious capabilities have been cut.

Yet things like Future Commando Force were intended to protect the Royal Marines from being seen as just another light infantry brigade, and to tie them in with amphibious platforms and other aspects of the 'Future Navy'. How can people claim that amphibious capabilities have been cut when we have stood up one standing Littoral Response Group (with LPD and LSD(A)), and another one will stand up in 2023. Both will have Bootnecks attached full time - as I understand companies from 40 Cdo and 45 Cdo will be rotated. The Carrier Strike Group will have a company from 42 Cdo.

I am not sure if non dark blue types really appreciate the problems the RN had with manpower issues in the years post SDSR 10 and SDSR 15. Something had to be done to get more ships to sea with a full complement. As far as I know that has been achieved - but achieving that meant changes and pain. As I se it the 'Future Navy' has already been largely achieved. Specifying what the Navy's outputs were was significant in making things coherent in a way they had not been before, Orientating the organisation to make it happen, despite understandable resistance, was leadership. Of course it helped that the Fleet Commander and Second Sea Lord posts were also held by innovators.



I once went to augment a major NATO exercise, My 'employing officer' wrote a report which reflected well on me, and I shook his hand and thanked him. A couple of weeks later my unit CO castigated me for a perceived failure, and the same for a period of being mobilised. Nothing that the complaints process and a 1* could not sort out!

Sometimes readers perceptions are so screwed up by prejudices that the writer might as well have had sent something completely different.
Meanwhile the army is still squabbling about Ajax and Boxer and soon the preservation of prestige (under recruited) cap badges. Meanwhile the disaster of the Herrick campaign and procure programmes of major land equipment will go unchecked.
 

Bubbles_Barker

LE
Book Reviewer
Simple maxim*: don’t email if you can phone; don’t phone if you can do face to face. Bad news doesn’t improve with time.

*pre covid
Agreed, but sometimes you need an audit trail…
 

Bubbles_Barker

LE
Book Reviewer
Meanwhile the army is still squabbling about Ajax and Boxer and soon the preservation of prestige (under recruited) cap badges. Meanwhile the disaster of the Herrick campaign and procure programmes of major land equipment will go unchecked.
Who’s squabbling about BOXER?
 

rampant

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer

rampant

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
The Wavell Room has cratered in my opinion by the total lack of Afghan retreat related pieces, regardless of the fact I know many have been submitted (and let's face it, their quality line is not high).

I'd agree with that. There is good stuff on there but you need to dig, and standards could be a lot higher. On the other hand its good to have internal debate and idea out in public. Not that we don't do that here, but the rumbustiousness of these boards can be rather alienating for Outsiders
 
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Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
I'd agree with that. There is good stuff on there but you need to dig, and standards could be a lot higher. On the other hand its good to internal debate and idea out in public. Not that we don't do that here, but the rumbustiousness of these boards can be rather alienating for Outsiders
I agree, I just think their editorial staff are selecting out the most critical pieces, while publishing on-message wnak. Which is not the mission statement you describe above. I know of a fair few people (who can write, and know their stuff) who have submitted 'controversial' articles and had it slow bowled or not taken forward. Meanwhile, any guff that hits one of their declared priorities is posted.

The lack of Afghan articles is just blatant. They even posted on Twitter (I think) that they had an avalanche of submissions. Not one yet published two months later. Genuine military writing site that doesn't criticise the military? Presence of the abnormal, or absence of the normal...

Their acknowledged visibility to Andover clearly has an effect. The Army has form with this: witness the brief revival of the BAR circa 2009 as a genuine critically minded journal...for about three years, until the editor was replaced with one who returned to pictures of tanks and Cols writing fourth-hand histories about the intricate stirrup-leather considerations of the Battle of Fluffenbuff (1782).

God forbid we write from direct experience, about events that are actually happening, and lessons that might actually have an impact.
 
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Probably doesn’t help that the blokes running it are both (ex)16X as well…
 

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Probably doesn’t help that the blokes running it are both (ex)16X as well…
Not many crayons in web publishing, so that shouldn't have too big an impact.
 

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