Changing the army - how?

Mölders 1

War Hero
All the examples you cite were in service for many years, or still are. What would your alternatives have been?

What If arguments are utterly pointless but seeing as you asked......

Tornado A.D.V. = The F-15 C Eagle which is/was a purpose built Air Superiority Fighter not a "Fighter/Interceptor" derived from a dedicated Low Altitude Strike Aircraft.

A-400 = Extra C-130Js which was already in service with the R.A.F. and is/was a tried and tested Aircraft with all the Training and Support Infrastructure already in place.

Merlin HC 3 = The (then) latest variant of the CH-47 Chinook, (which was what the R.A.F. really wanted and what has recently been done).

Lynx Wildcat = The SH-60 Seahawk currently widely used by the U.S. Navy.
 

Alamo

LE
What If arguments are utterly pointless but seeing as you asked......

Tornado A.D.V. = The F-15 C Eagle which is/was a purpose built Air Superiority Fighter not a "Fighter/Interceptor" derived from a dedicated Low Altitude Strike Aircraft.

A-400 = Extra C-130Js which was already in service with the R.A.F. and is/was a tried and tested Aircraft with all the Training and Support Infrastructure already in place.

Merlin HC 3 = The (then) latest variant of the CH-47 Chinook, (which was what the R.A.F. really wanted and what has recently been done).

Lynx Wildcat = The SH-60 Seahawk currently widely used by the U.S. Navy.
As I thought. None of those are poor discussions, from a purely military position. My view is that the government has to the balance the needs of multiple sectors, including defence, industry, science and technology, and employment. Having done so it directed the course of action taken. You may have preferred different outcomes, I know I would, but it’s not government’s job just to keep defence happy.
 

Mölders 1

War Hero
As I thought. None of those are poor discussions, from a purely military position. My view is that the government has to the balance the needs of multiple sectors, including defence, industry, science and technology, and employment. Having done so it directed the course of action taken. You may have preferred different outcomes, I know I would, but it’s not government’s job just to keep defence happy.

I fully understand where you are coming from also.
 

Yokel

LE
What If arguments are utterly pointless but seeing as you asked......

Tornado A.D.V. = The F-15 C Eagle which is/was a purpose built Air Superiority Fighter not a "Fighter/Interceptor" derived from a dedicated Low Altitude Strike Aircraft.

A-400 = Extra C-130Js which was already in service with the R.A.F. and is/was a tried and tested Aircraft with all the Training and Support Infrastructure already in place.

Merlin HC 3 = The (then) latest variant of the CH-47 Chinook, (which was what the R.A.F. really wanted and what has recently been done).

Lynx Wildcat = The SH-60 Seahawk currently widely used by the U.S. Navy.

Tornado ADV - stop gap until Typhoon came along? I am sure I saw a PPRuNe thread which mentioned RAF studies of fighters that would replace the Phantom, with things such as F-16 ruled out due to single engine, F-14 ruled out as the radar struggled over land, etc. I am not sure what was said about the F-15, but would it not have meant the RAF would have needed to procure boom tankers?

A-400M - political decision, but why do you think that it is wrong for politician to consider wider issues/

Merlin HC3 - I remember those rumours, but if it had not been procured than what would have replaced the RN Jungly Sea King?

Lynx Wildcat - RN and USN requirements differ, and the Wildcat has outstanding avionics, both radar and EO systems, and as we employ helicopters differently it has an Observer.

As I thought. None of those are poor discussions, from a purely military position. My view is that the government has to the balance the needs of multiple sectors, including defence, industry, science and technology, and employment. Having done so it directed the course of action taken. You may have preferred different outcomes, I know I would, but it’s not government’s job just to keep defence happy.

You used to hear moaning and groaning about the Shorts Tucano - and Shorts getting the contract. However, at the time the NI troubles were still sadly going on, and HMS policy was to invest in Ulster to reduce the number of unemployed persons who might get caught up in the violence.
 

Cynical

LE
Book Reviewer
You mean Defence Strategic Guidance? The guidance given to both SDR and SSDR could not have been more unequivocal. It was crystal clear in describing the scale, concurrency, duration, type and readiness criteria the Army was required to meet. I suspect the guidance given to subsequent reviews was no less clear.

The problem lies in execution. It always does. The Army has singularly failed to deliver the capabilities it has been mandated to deliver and has done so for decades.

Blaming ministers or the Treasury is laying the blame for what has been a woeful 20 years of capability management and development by the Army.

The problem to me is that the generalists the Army has promoted this century aren’t generalists at all. They have a very niche skill set developed to command and honed by commanding combat units. And yet we assume that they will be effective at delivering big, complex programs.
Well perhaps.

But if the guidance was unequivocal then either SDR/SSDR delivered the capability that the government demanded - which would imply that the government was spectacularly badly briefed - or it didn't, in which case why has SoS not sacked CDS and his coterie. Both options are symptomatic of a lack of grip at the top, and the top lies higher than CGS/CDS.

Selecting whom to promote to senior leadership is not a problem unique to the armed forces. Arguably the 2008 crash (and many other corporate failures before and since) were caused by promoting the biggest swinging dick, usually from sales, on the grounds that (i) the knew the customers (ii) if not promoted they would leave and work for a competitor (iii) they were probably the protege of the current head. Cue Dick Fulds. Lehman etc.

It's probably worse in the public sector; in private sector the decision makers (shareholders) have significant investment in the game and are incentivised to pick the right person. In politics, particularly defence, the SoS has less skin in the game, if any. Defence is probably now as much of a political dead end as the Northern Ireland as it's long lead time, high risk (particularly since Gordon Brown started the awful habit of reading out casualty names and the whole Wooton Basset thing) and low political reward.

If that's true for politicians it's also true for CS and indeed the uniformed element. I suspect that much of the problem is that the best Army (as this is an army thread) entrants left earlier in their career. Back in 1980s and 1990s there were certainly many in the teeth arms whose ambition was to command their regiment and then leave, honour more or less intact.

I think it is the job of VSO to lead, not to manage complex projects. If (s)he has a complex project then the VSO much find a minion capable of leading such a project, as we have discussed above. With leading comes making the tough decisions, which might well include saying "No Minister" and "You're Fired" to failing minions (CS and uniformed). That takes drive. decisiveness, charisma and moral courage, which should be honed in combat command.

The post Lt Col career structure must change to allow for longer tours in key positions. If this means that more Lt Col leave post command fine; they'll earn more, the economy will flourish and the Army should get stabler, and thus more accountable, senior leadership. Changing CEO is something that companies and investors dread.

As it is unlikely that the rapid rotation of SoS will change (and Wallace has been there a while) the stability must come from the uniformed bit.

How to ensure that the correct Lt Col's get the brigade gigs? Direct competition. We have simulators, so BG on BG encounter battle. Same for Bdes.

How pick a PM for (say) CR3. Find a good tank regiment CO. Post command send him on PM, finance and other courses., Promote and appoint until further notice (or second **** up).

Can it be done? Of course. Will it be done? No, as it's in no-one's short term interest. And that is fundamentally a political failing and common to all government departments.
 

Cynical

LE
Book Reviewer
As I thought. None of those are poor discussions, from a purely military position. My view is that the government has to the balance the needs of multiple sectors, including defence, industry, science and technology, and employment. Having done so it directed the course of action taken. You may have preferred different outcomes, I know I would, but it’s not government’s job just to keep defence happy.
This is the disease of big government thinking it can run the economy.

The easiest sales pitch for any UK defence contractor offering sub-optimal kit is to say if you buy X it will create y jobs, but if you don't w'll have to shut a factory in a marginal constituency.

The correct answer is "Listen matey, it is not the job of the UK taxpayer to subsidise your production of shit kit that also gets Tommy Atkins killed at the taxpayers expense. If you can't produce on spec, on time, on price you're out of it."

Of course, that approach (standard in all commerce not involving government) does not lead to consulting jobs and peerages.
 

Mölders 1

War Hero
Tornado ADV - stop gap until Typhoon came along? I am sure I saw a PPRuNe thread which mentioned RAF studies of fighters that would replace the Phantom, with things such as F-16 ruled out due to single engine, F-14 ruled out as the radar struggled over land, etc. I am not sure what was said about the F-15, but would it not have meant the RAF would have needed to procure boom tankers?

A-400M - political decision, but why do you think that it is wrong for politician to consider wider issues/

Merlin HC3 - I remember those rumours, but if it had not been procured than what would have replaced the RN Jungly Sea King?

Lynx Wildcat - RN and USN requirements differ, and the Wildcat has outstanding avionics, both radar and EO systems, and as we employ helicopters differently it has an Observer.



You used to hear moaning and groaning about the Shorts Tucano - and Shorts getting the contract. However, at the time the NI troubles were still sadly going on, and HMS policy was to invest in Ulster to reduce the number of unemployed persons who might get caught up in the violence.

For the billions spent in the Tornado A.D.V. it still would have been more economical to buy a fair number of F-15 Cs and a few "Boom" Tankers to refuel them.

The A-400 was only ordered into production to subsidise Airbus.....is it really that much better than the C-130J to justify all the R+D and production costs?

There must be some "off the shelf"/affordable Transport Helicopter to replace the Junglie Sea Kings used by the R.M.

As for the Lynx Wildcat.....again was it really worth all the R+D and production costs for all of @28 of them?

But it is all academic now.
 
Well perhaps.

But if the guidance was unequivocal then either SDR/SSDR delivered the capability that the government demanded - which would imply that the government was spectacularly badly briefed - or it didn't, in which case why has SoS not sacked CDS and his coterie. Both options are symptomatic of a lack of grip at the top, and the top lies higher than CGS/CDS.
Just snipping too points. First one; the current structure, capabilities and key equipment of the RN and RAF are pretty much what was envisaged in SDR, reduced somewhat by SSDR. The Army had a mandate to develop Light, Medium and Heavy capabilities. It’s not yet delivered two out of three. It pissed away FRES.

Meantime it came up with the idea of rebalancing to the Reserve
I think it is the job of VSO to lead, not to manage complex projects. If (s)he has a complex project then the VSO much find a minion capable of leading such a project, as we have discussed above. With leading comes making the tough decisions, which might well include saying "No Minister" and "You're Fired" to failing minions (CS and uniformed). That takes drive. decisiveness, charisma and moral courage, which should be honed in combat command.
Strategic leadership takes rather more than drive, decisiveness, charisma and moral courage. A key function of the strategic leader is to enable the resources required by your reports. That requires political acumen, financial intelligence and a significant degree of intrapreneurial spirit.

Combat command hones very specific short term leadership skills. They are very different from the skills required to lead the big and the complex. If they weren’t, the succession of very capable infanteers, cavalrymen and gunners who have occupied the majority of big jobs for the last 30 years would have actually delivered something.
 

Yokel

LE
Off the shelf often means that x does not meat our specification. Making it do so might well cost hundreds of millions.

For example was there an off the shelf aircraft that could do the same job as what is now the marinised Merlin HC4? Some might say that we should have ordered more Merlin HM1s instead, but that leaves a problem for the Royal Marines and Command Helicopter Force - and the wider RN. As for Wildcat how much of the R&D was developing went on things like sensors and communications? Are you advocating having less capability or spending money trying to integrate the Wildcat HM2's systems onto the MH-60R?

Please stop listening to PhotEx. Remember too that the Americans use a different procurement model. Fighter x or helicopter y may be cheaper, but things like engines, communications, radar, and so on are supplied separately by the US Government and not as part of the contract with LM/Boeing/etc.

Anyway - I am not sure why I am still posting on this thread...
 

Cynical

LE
Book Reviewer
Strategic leadership takes rather more than drive, decisiveness, charisma and moral courage. A key function of the strategic leader is to enable the resources required by your reports. That requires political acumen, financial intelligence and a significant degree of intrapreneurial spirit.

Combat command hones very specific short term leadership skills. They are very different from the skills required to lead the big and the complex. If they weren’t, the succession of very capable infanteers, cavalrymen and gunners who have occupied the majority of big jobs for the last 30 years would have actually delivered something.
I think we're falling more into semantics than disagreeing.

By combat command I meant command of a combat unit (i.e. BG or Bde) rather than command in combat. The primary requirement of any such commander is to be able to make decisions and then get those decisions to work, as well as building a team that takes initiative and delivers. (Cue another lap of mission command). These are by no means the only skills required, but they are fundamental.

In a well run organisation (dream on MOD readers) of course crucial decisions should not come as a surprise,. The leader/CEO/VSO's job is therefore to frame the decision to be made, outline timelines and get minions busy delivering options. (As an aside, in civvy strasse I have found that the 30% rule on time from battle procedure still works well). As he/she will have multiple threads of such work in process our CEO/VSO needs to be good at briefing the troops, walking the shop floor, spotting problems and knowing when to act - broadly encompassed in the term coup d'oeil. Such actions must be decisive.

It is noticeable in civvy strasse how few successful companies are headed by lawyers or accountants (CEO's may or may not hold such qualifications, but if they do it will be a long time since they practiced). Advisors advice, executives decide.

You may be right, and the prevalence of teeth arm types in VSO appointments is part of the problem. I suspect that the incumbents from the previous 3 decades would suggest that we still (more or less) have an Army and cite that as an achievement. I agree entirely that the Army hs failed to deliver what it was told to do, and indeed it has accepted a structure that is far from viable.

However, and this is at the crux of my point, in any non-public corporation such failure would have been awarded a P45 for individuals or insolvency for the entire organisation if it was repeated, possibly with a phoenix under new leadership. This problem is government wide and is, I suggest, the inevitability of the inability of politicians to hold the government machine to account, be they Cabinet Ministers or on select committee. This is, I fear, insoluble unless we either cease to vote for people whom we would not employ or find a different political party with a different approach.
 

Cynical

LE
Book Reviewer
Off the shelf often means that x does not meat our specification. Making it do so might well cost hundreds of millions.
It might also mean that our specification is ill considered as the requirement definition was pants, compromised or ignored. (Or, for AJAX, all of the above).
 

Cyberhacker

War Hero
The RN got lucky that Nott's review was undermined by the FI (and their genius at describing the Invincible class as "through deck cruisers" paid off).

The Army now faces this challenge with a vastly depleted intellectual pool and a recent history of abject failure.
The army tried calling Ajax a tank...
 

Cyberhacker

War Hero
Off the shelf often means that x does not meat our specification. Making it do so might well cost hundreds of millions.
Requirements management is all part of the life-cycle.

Who compiles the wish-list? Why do they need to do all of those things?

It is no different to a commercial contractual negotiation... for £x you get features A, B and C - if you insist on D it will cost you £Xtra

It's like the US Army insisting that Stryker was C-130 transportable... but has (AFAICT) never transported a Stryker in a Herc because it's much more effcient to fit three (along with crew and combat load) into a C-17, whereas a single stripped-down Stryker still nudged the weight limit for a Herc.

But it still cost a lot of cash trying to make the weight... which was pointless as they then fitted slat-armo(u)r
 

Alamo

LE
The correct answer is "Listen matey, it is not the job of the UK taxpayer to subsidise your production of shit kit that also gets Tommy Atkins killed at the taxpayers expense. If you can't produce on spec, on time, on price you're out of it."

Of course, that approach (standard in all commerce not involving government) does not lead to consulting jobs and peerages.
Got any examples of that actually happening? (And I mean informed ones, based on the realities of requirements and procurement, as opposed to ‘I’d rather have had that’)
 

Cynical

LE
Book Reviewer
Got any examples of that actually happening? (And I mean informed ones, based on the realities of requirements and procurement, as opposed to ‘I’d rather have had that’)
In commerce? Many.
 

Alamo

LE
In commerce? Many.
No, in terms of UK forces being forced to take such kit with lives having been lost a result. You know, as in:
The correct answer is "Listen matey, it is not the job of the UK taxpayer to subsidise your production of shit kit that also gets Tommy Atkins killed at the taxpayers expense. If you can't produce on spec, on time, on price you're out of it."

Of course, that approach (standard in all commerce not involving government) does not lead to consulting jobs and peerages.
 

Proff3RTR

War Hero
This is the disease of big government thinking it can run the economy.

The easiest sales pitch for any UK defence contractor offering sub-optimal kit is to say if you buy X it will create y jobs, but if you don't w'll have to shut a factory in a marginal constituency.

The correct answer is "Listen matey, it is not the job of the UK taxpayer to subsidise your production of shit kit that also gets Tommy Atkins killed at the taxpayers expense. If you can't produce on spec, on time, on price you're out of it."

Of course, that approach (standard in all commerce not involving government) does not lead to consulting jobs and peerages.

SA80 is a classic, no fcuker wanted it, the initial ITDU report hammered it, but it was forced through any how.
 
I think we're falling more into semantics than disagreeing.

By combat command I meant command of a combat unit (i.e. BG or Bde) rather than command in combat. The primary requirement of any such commander is to be able to make decisions and then get those decisions to work, as well as building a team that takes initiative and delivers. (Cue another lap of mission command). These are by no means the only skills required, but they are fundamental.

In a well run organisation (dream on MOD readers) of course crucial decisions should not come as a surprise,. The leader/CEO/VSO's job is therefore to frame the decision to be made, outline timelines and get minions busy delivering options. (As an aside, in civvy strasse I have found that the 30% rule on time from battle procedure still works well). As he/she will have multiple threads of such work in process our CEO/VSO needs to be good at briefing the troops, walking the shop floor, spotting problems and knowing when to act - broadly encompassed in the term coup d'oeil. Such actions must be decisive.

It is noticeable in civvy strasse how few successful companies are headed by lawyers or accountants (CEO's may or may not hold such qualifications, but if they do it will be a long time since they practiced). Advisors advice, executives decide.

You may be right, and the prevalence of teeth arm types in VSO appointments is part of the problem. I suspect that the incumbents from the previous 3 decades would suggest that we still (more or less) have an Army and cite that as an achievement. I agree entirely that the Army hs failed to deliver what it was told to do, and indeed it has accepted a structure that is far from viable.

However, and this is at the crux of my point, in any non-public corporation such failure would have been awarded a P45 for individuals or insolvency for the entire organisation if it was repeated, possibly with a phoenix under new leadership. This problem is government wide and is, I suggest, the inevitability of the inability of politicians to hold the government machine to account, be they Cabinet Ministers or on select committee. This is, I fear, insoluble unless we either cease to vote for people whom we would not employ or find a different political party with a different approach.
This is about generating a senior leadership structure that has the knowledge, experience and expertise to deliver complex programmes with multiple lines of development.

IMHO the MOD is generally a beacon of good practice within government mostly because it is well integrated vertically reasonably horizontally. Compare with other big spending departments like health and education, where there are multiple competing agencies responsible for delivery and a vast blob of unionised staff with agendas that conflict with the centre.

Put it this way, the MOD has delivered the carriers, Astute, F35 etc etc pretty much as planned. The missing piece of the puzzle is the Army’s equipment programme which has been an unmitigated disaster for 30 years. It’s not that the Army cannot deliver complex; the Army Basing Plan has been well executed.

So I do think there is a need for change in the way the Army selects, educates and develops the people it puts in charge of its future. Post command is too late.
 

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