Changing the army - how?

Glad_its_all_over

ADC
Book Reviewer
The email suggests it was merely the last/latest in a long series of exchanges. I've found myself following up on difficult conversations in similar fashion: "We spoke. I explained. This is what is happening. You accepted. You agreed. Regards &c."
 

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
In either of the two cases (Radakin is a bully; Radakin is not a bully), I simply don't care.

The real effect of morally cowardly, incompetent and self-interested 'leaders' at the top of the military is that it has any number of toxic effects on those lower down. Including, but not limited to, at the extreme getting them killed. Morally, expecting them to share the same risks seems perfectly fair and desirable.

Changing the dug-in attitudes at the top is clearly not going to be easy and will be resisted. I will take a CDS who is serious about getting that done - and in this case, has evidenced it by doing so in the Navy. If some officers have a shit time and lose their benefits and jobs as a result, then they are simply experiencing the reality they have been enabling for those below them, who they are nominally responsible for but so often failed to live up to that responsibility.

I don't doubt that some good blokes will get caught in the crossfire. This, too, is expected of all our soldiers, and so I don't see why there should be exemptions for rank. I'll judge Radakin on how effective he is at achieving necessary changes in the face of, undoubtedly, strenuous opposition from the massed stars mounting the Defence of CEA. How he manages that is only relevant to whether he achieves that mission, not whether the Senior Officer's Mess likes it.

Morally this is known as reciprocity, or in short: senior officers are reaping the rewards of what they have allowed to happen on their watch.
 
Interesting points on the Wavell Room. I know at least two people who volunteer their time to help run it who are always after pieces that are not the party line.
 

Cynical

LE
Book Reviewer
Reposted from the Ajax thread

Many here may well dislike officers, or hold them in contempt. My suggestion to them is try it yourself; it's not easy. When I taught at RMAS with very few exceptions the ex NCOs (some 20% of the intake at that time) were mediocre leaders at best.

For sure the switch to 12 years and the de facto removal of the 3 year SSC is likely to have had an adverse impact on recruiting wild cards - 12 years is a hell of a commitment on both sides. The simple truth is that the weak officer on a 3 year SSC was not extended, and soldiers were effective in ensuring weakness was obvious (as were the rest of the officers in the mess).

It's relatively easy to identify those with leadership potential, AOSB does that well.

It's relatively easy to develop leadership potential at RMAS (although much of that is theoretical) as well as instilling the skills and knowledge to produce a junior commander and manager. The product of RMAS is an entry point leader/commander/manager. Post special to arm training the development of lead/command/manage skills is pretty much on the job training.

In terms of tactical command ability, Clausewitz, Liddle Hart and (most recently) Allan Mallinson all believe in the concept of a commander's coup d'oeil which, like leadership may be a natural gift that is nurtured (cue discussion Commanders and Leaders; born or made?). an army that lacks budget for challenging tactical training is unlikely to develop commanders.

None of the above has anything to do with the strategic shaping of the Army of the future. Nor does it have anything much to do with intellectual development.

The Staff College and RCDS may add a strategic view. Or they may propagate group think. Certainly the selection process does not encourage the wild cards and favours conformists. But that is generally true of any large organisation and particularly government service. Hence, I would argue, the NHS, and Education departments which are at least as challenged as the Army. Indeed the MOD and whole Civil Service might benefit from bringing in outsiders at senior level (I know they say they do that, but it's window dressing).

The comparison with state of RN and RAF is not entirely fair or useful. The former is platform centric and is managing to cover up the lack of platforms with interoperability with NATO etc. Which is fine, but they should make it clear that we are only able to protect national interests if they're our allies national interest too. Which is bad news for the Falklands. RN procurement has not been an unqualified success either - Crowsnest springs to mind RAF have ruthlessly deleted platforms to stay in the technology led game with F35 and Tempest. The cock ups in Nimrod/P8 and Wedgetail are neatly obscured by the "yebbut Red Arrows" and "Ooh Spitfire" approach.

Land warfare is far more people centred. To the advocates of robot warfare, what happens when all my robots have killed all your robots (or vice versa)? If it was a vital national interest there is no choice but fight on.
Army people at the sharp end come in tribes, with cap badges and history.,

While many here, in the MOD and in the wider population deride the Regimental system - and indeed the large regiment approach so beloved of RGJ/Lt Div/Rifles/CDS may have transformed it beyond all recognition - note that when the US Army was rebuilding post the Vietnam debacle one of the things that impressed them most about the British Army was the Regimental system - in as much as it made people more likely to opt into combat. (Only evidence is anecdotal from US Army personnel I served alongside / met over my career). Whatever the Army's current problems (and they are legion) it is not the regimental system. No attempted "fix" of the Regimental system will solve the Army's problems either.

For sure the Army spent much of 1997-2015 kicking the can down the road, focusing on rebuilding post the end of austerity cuts and desperately seeking any conflict to get stuck into. (To be fair, it was brilliantly successful at finding conflicts to get stuck in!) As the increasingly intractable issues of these conflicts used more thought time, budget etc. The predominance of lt role experienced officers and the mistaken (IMHO) assumption that armour was no longer needed led to programme drift.

The latest defence review was an exercise in obfuscation and betting the ranch on Strike being the way ahead.

In commerce failing companies die. If they have asset value they get dismembered by asset strippers; if they have potential they get taken over by turnaround guys and sorted. Note that these turnaround guys are not from within the company.

The question is, surely, how does the Army (and probably the whole MOD) find a turnaround team? Generals and senior civil servants need not apply.
 

Mr_Relaxed

War Hero
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.
But it’s also a method to remove anyone who might talk truth to power, and that’s not good for stakeholder’s. It’s where you really need a strong Chairman in the plc world.
 

Proff3RTR

War Hero
What do you think the Army's biggest problem is...?
Way to many ‘yes’ men worried about their careers instead of their men, both officer and WO/SNCO for a start, the fact that Sgt’s are no longer looked on with that sense of respect, both tactical & no how. Officers junior and as they progress senior ignoring lessons from the past, and simply ignoring their men. That little lot in and of itself is enough, don’t get me started in kit, procurements etc. As for the VSO’s well enough has been said about them to fill many books. We need to press the reset button, and take a very hard look at what the armed forces has turned into.
 

Dread

LE
Sadly all your well-considered and presented thoughts are for naught: the huge steaming turd of Treasury driven costs are about to hammer the Army down to a force of 65,000 (never mind the 72,500 announced last March).

Strangely enough, what will then happen to the Army numbers will replicate what has happened after every other defence cut: recruitment will fall off a cliff, and those trades with the tightest "pinch points" will, once again, see the largest number of people quitting as they get fed-up with an ever-increasing workload.

An "established strength" of 65,000 will soon equal 58,000 soldiers on the payroll, of which about 6,000 at any one time will be non-deployable. I base this on the current situation: established strength of the Army = 82,000, actual strength 77,000 (includes all Phase 2 recruits) and of this, 62,000 are currently 'fit' for operations.

Links: https://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/CBP-7930/CBP-7930.pdf
Satisfaction With Service Life 'Well Below' Peak Levels Of Decade Ago

I suspect the following will be happening to the Royal Artillery within the next 5 years: loss of all AS90 regiments (currently 3) and no immediate replacement. Loss of 50% Air Defence capability (down to just 3 Batteries from 6 current at 16RA), loss of all but 2 Light Gun regiments (but they'll each have an extra gun battery).

So the military is getting smaller to the point of insignificance, you can guarantee that no VSO is going to turn around to a politician and say "We need 150,000 trained strength in the Army and an increase to 25 Destroyers and 30 Frigates for the Royal Navy, otherwise we're fücked and utterly unable to face any threat to our interests or allies from Russia, China or that uppity Boy Scouts troop in Cardiff." At the same time recruitment is going to go through the floor and stay there.

In summary: it's fücked. While politicians are prepared to spend more on getting people to switch to heat exchange units from traditional boilers than they are on defence, the defence of the nation is screwed.
 

Proff3RTR

War Hero
Sadly all your well-considered and presented thoughts are for naught: the huge steaming turd of Treasury driven costs are about to hammer the Army down to a force of 65,000 (never mind the 72,500 announced last March).

Strangely enough, what will then happen to the Army numbers will replicate what has happened after every other defence cut: recruitment will fall off a cliff, and those trades with the tightest "pinch points" will, once again, see the largest number of people quitting as they get fed-up with an ever-increasing workload.

An "established strength" of 65,000 will soon equal 58,000 soldiers on the payroll, of which about 6,000 at any one time will be non-deployable. I base this on the current situation: established strength of the Army = 82,000, actual strength 77,000 (includes all Phase 2 recruits) and of this, 62,000 are currently 'fit' for operations.

Links: https://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/CBP-7930/CBP-7930.pdf
Satisfaction With Service Life 'Well Below' Peak Levels Of Decade Ago

I suspect the following will be happening to the Royal Artillery within the next 5 years: loss of all AS90 regiments (currently 3) and no immediate replacement. Loss of 50% Air Defence capability (down to just 3 Batteries from 6 current at 16RA), loss of all but 2 Light Gun regiments (but they'll each have an extra gun battery).

So the military is getting smaller to the point of insignificance, you can guarantee that no VSO is going to turn around to a politician and say "We need 150,000 trained strength in the Army and an increase to 25 Destroyers and 30 Frigates for the Royal Navy, otherwise we're fücked and utterly unable to face any threat to our interests or allies from Russia, China or that uppity Boy Scouts troop in Cardiff." At the same time recruitment is going to go through the floor and stay there.

In summary: it's fücked. While politicians are prepared to spend more on getting people to switch to heat exchange units from traditional boilers than they are on defence, the defence of the nation is screwed.
When you look at like that it is so much worse than we think, down to 65,000, that is a joke, and not a very funny one.
 

Alamo

LE
Sadly all your well-considered and presented thoughts are for naught: the huge steaming turd of Treasury driven costs are about to hammer the Army down to a force of 65,000 (never mind the 72,500 announced last March).

Strangely enough, what will then happen to the Army numbers will replicate what has happened after every other defence cut: recruitment will fall off a cliff, and those trades with the tightest "pinch points" will, once again, see the largest number of people quitting as they get fed-up with an ever-increasing workload.

An "established strength" of 65,000 will soon equal 58,000 soldiers on the payroll, of which about 6,000 at any one time will be non-deployable. I base this on the current situation: established strength of the Army = 82,000, actual strength 77,000 (includes all Phase 2 recruits) and of this, 62,000 are currently 'fit' for operations.

Links: https://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/CBP-7930/CBP-7930.pdf
Satisfaction With Service Life 'Well Below' Peak Levels Of Decade Ago

I suspect the following will be happening to the Royal Artillery within the next 5 years: loss of all AS90 regiments (currently 3) and no immediate replacement. Loss of 50% Air Defence capability (down to just 3 Batteries from 6 current at 16RA), loss of all but 2 Light Gun regiments (but they'll each have an extra gun battery).

So the military is getting smaller to the point of insignificance, you can guarantee that no VSO is going to turn around to a politician and say "We need 150,000 trained strength in the Army and an increase to 25 Destroyers and 30 Frigates for the Royal Navy, otherwise we're fücked and utterly unable to face any threat to our interests or allies from Russia, China or that uppity Boy Scouts troop in Cardiff." At the same time recruitment is going to go through the floor and stay there.

In summary: it's fücked. While politicians are prepared to spend more on getting people to switch to heat exchange units from traditional boilers than they are on defence, the defence of the nation is screwed.
Dont know why you’re blaming the Treasury. The Army itself proposed a 65k force in 2015 but was stopped by Cameron having made a pledge in parliament that no more cap badges would be lost.
 

Dread

LE
Dont know why you’re blaming the Treasury. The Army itself proposed a 65k force in 2015 but was stopped by Cameron having made a pledge in parliament that no more cap badges would be lost.

:O

(Sorry for the emoji!)

A cynic might say that such a force reduction suggestion was made by someone wanting to gain brownie points and promotion from their political masters... am I wrong? From what I have seen of defence cuts (from '89 onwards) is that all cuts are done by the Treasury and then the military has to then cut its cloth accordingly, while publicly the politicians insist that all changes are defence-driven.
 
British
Major
Career pathway change, officers in questions had previous degrees and had served in different roles, one was RE, can't remember what corps/Regiment the others were in. They went to study medicine doing one of the fast track post grad degrees. They wanted to stay in whilst they studied, bit were told that wouldn't be possible, but army were happy to support them financially whilst they studied, they got a yearly 15k a year, and were told they when they rejoined they would be allowed to return at the rank they had attained when they left to study.
It sounds odd - although obviously not impossible as there are always many ways in which the Army manages to f*ck around with people.

My Brother is a Major and has had studied for / completed a BSc & MA, and is looking at a PhD, - all whilst serving.
 
It sounds odd - although obviously not impossible as there are always many ways in which the Army manages to f*ck around with people.

My Brother is a Major and has had studied for / completed a BSc & MA, and is looking at a PhD, - all whilst serving.

It should never be underestimated the ways and means that the Army would bend over backwards / fall over itself in order to accommodate people who's faces fitted.

It should also never be underestimated the lengths ( underhand tactics ) that an organisation, inc the Army, will take to manage faces out the door that do not fit.

ETA

It must have been a right bugger when the 3 year SSC was stopped :) :)
 
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Alamo

LE
:O

(Sorry for the emoji!)

A cynic might say that such a force reduction suggestion was made by someone wanting to gain brownie points and promotion from their political masters... am I wrong? From what I have seen of defence cuts (from '89 onwards) is that all cuts are done by the Treasury and then the military has to then cut its cloth accordingly, while publicly the politicians insist that all changes are defence-driven.
Well I would say that there is obviously a Treasury cap, it can’t be a bottomless pit of cash. Many would argue there hasn’t been enough, I’m not sure I would agree; especially when we’ve been so poor at spending it. It’s all the fault of the nasty people at the Treasury is just plain wrong in my view.
 
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In all honesty, given the 30 years rolling goatfck that is Tracer/FRES/Ajax et al, I'm surprised the Treasury are happy to send any money at all the Army's way, until the heads of those responsible decorate spiked railings the length of Whitehall.
 

Dread

LE
In all honesty, given the 30 years rolling goatfck that is Tracer/FRES/Ajax et al, I'm surprised the Treasury are happy to send any money at all the Army's way, until the heads of those responsible decorate spiked railings the length of Whitehall.

No disagreement from me with your post: that people haven't been sacked for the screwups is very damaging for both public/political trust in HMF, as well as very bad for the military: the junior ranks can see the VSOs making serious one serious screwup after another, each costing billions of pounds, all without any consequence for those involved.
 
In all honesty, given the 30 years rolling goatfck that is Tracer/FRES/Ajax et al, I'm surprised the Treasury are happy to send any money at all the Army's way, until the heads of those responsible decorate spiked railings the length of Whitehall.
Once upon a time I'd a boss who encouraged any bright ideas that would expand the business, or make more profit, on one condition:
You had to be able to state what you wanted to do, how much it would cost, how long it would take to get running, and how quickly it would show a return on investment.
All on one side of A4 paper.

It worked.
 

Dread

LE
Once upon a time I'd a boss who encouraged any bright ideas that would expand the business, or make more profit, on one condition:
You had to be able to state what you wanted to do, how much it would cost, how long it would take to get running, and how quickly it would show a return on investment.
All on one side of A4 paper.

It worked.

Well there's the problem right there: the Army only uses the back of a fag packet for its strategic planning.
 

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