Changing the army - how?

I have honestly never heard anyone in the Army - regardless of rank - claim they’ve not done something due to casualty aversion theory.
Eh? Almost every OC and CO I came across used a variation of “my main aim is to bring all the boys home” prior to going on tour.

They meant it. The blokes expected it. And the blokes - after their first month in theatre at least - had a very keen eye for spotting commanders who they thought were taking too much risk in pursuit of success.

Oh, and ever met a brigade commander who was happy to approve anything but the most minimal activity if the (very limited) MERT capability was close to full commitment?

I’m not disagreeing with it, but it was and is a fact. And I’ll believe that the new Ranger units will accompany their mentors into contact when I see it happen after the first time it goes wrong.

Go/No Go for their US counterparts is practically having Spectre on call and I can’t see our risk appetite differing.
 

FORMER_FYRDMAN

LE
Book Reviewer
Are you the same bloke who insisted on the Baldwin thread:

stop taking everything personally - it's not intended to be so.
You've just holed your espoused standard below the waterline.

Well done :thumleft:

I said 'stop taking everything personally' - you don't get indemnity for posting shoite. Any response to the points made?
 
Eh? Almost every OC and CO I came across used a variation of “my main aim is to bring all the boys home” prior to going on tour.

They meant it. The blokes expected it. And the blokes - after their first month in theatre at least - had a very keen eye for spotting commanders who they thought were taking too much risk in pursuit of success.

Oh, and ever met a brigade commander who was happy to approve anything but the most minimal activity if the (very limited) MERT capability was close to full commitment?

I’m not disagreeing with it, but it was and is a fact. And I’ll believe that the new Ranger units will accompany their mentors into contact when I see it happen after the first time it goes wrong.

Go/No Go for their US counterparts is practically having Spectre on call and I can’t see our risk appetite differing.
Sorry, I was talking in the context of major combat operations in Eastern Europe.
 

FORMER_FYRDMAN

LE
Book Reviewer
Frankly, no

After this insistent (inebriated?) assertion



You can simply fvck off.

No doubt it'll disappoint Edwards Deming but I'm not surprised you ducked the challenge.
 
The only thing Edwards Deming is bringing is the formation platitude team - did you stop to critique or even apply the slightest degree of intellectual rigour to even one of his points?

1. Create constancy of purpose toward improvement of product and service, with the aim to become competitive and to stay in business, and to provide jobs. Thanks for clueing us in on that one - it's a principle that's consistently evaded wealth-creators on six continents.

2. Adopt the new philosophy. We are in a new economic age. Western management must awaken to the challenge, must learn their responsibilities, and take on leadership for change. What's new, what's the challenge, what are the responsibilities and what does 'take on leadership for change' actually mean?

3. Cease dependence on inspection to achieve quality. Eliminate the need for inspection on a mass basis by building quality into the product in the first place. Err right, there are no safety or commercial consequences involved in reducing quality checks?

4. End the practice of awarding business on the basis of price tag. Instead, minimize total cost. Move toward a single supplier for any one item, on a long-term relationship of loyalty and trust. Because I can take loyalty and trust to the bank and they'll be happy when the cash dries up.

5. Improve constantly and forever the system of production and service, to improve quality and productivity, and thus constantly decrease costs. And I can write a poem about the joys of perpetual profit - can we get to the how?

6. Institute training on the job. Based on the previous five principles we may struggle to fund this but let's have it as a 'nice to have'.

7. Institute leadership. The aim of supervision should be to help people and machines and gadgets to do a better job. Supervision of management is in need of overhaul, as well as supervision of production workers. Once you understand the difference between leadership and management, let's have a conversation.

8. Drive out fear, so that everyone may work effectively for the company. Why not, but what does this actually mean?

9. Break down barriers between departments. People in research, design, sales, and production must work as a team, to foresee problems of production and in use that may be encountered with the product or service. All good but you might not want the Marketing Department to sign off the formal documents that keep you out of jail and you might not want the Accounts Department setting new standards for autistic introverts working in the sales field.

10. Eliminate slogans, exhortations, and targets for the work force asking for zero defects and new levels of productivity. Such exhortations only create adversarial relationships, as the bulk of the causes of low quality and low productivity belong to the system and thus lie beyond the power of the work force. 100%. The metrics are over-rated, what possible commercial value can you offer or achieve with zero defects and high productivity?

11a. Eliminate work standards (quotas) on the factory floor. Substitute leadership. Sorry you didn't get what you ordered but I showed leadership....

11b. Eliminate management by objective. Eliminate management by numbers, numerical goals. Substitute leadership. Let's be absolutely clueless about what we're trying to do and even more clueless about whether we've done it.

12a. Remove barriers that rob the hourly worker of his right to pride of workmanship. The responsibility of supervisors must be changed from sheer numbers to quality. Quantity has a quality all of it's own - J. Stalin. From the perspective of the other side, if I don't have it, I'm not paying you for it.

12b. Remove barriers that rob people in management and in engineering of their right to pride of workmanship. This means, inter alia, abolishment of the annual or merit rating and of management by objective. If I was crap at my job, I'd want this too

13. Institute a vigorous program of education and self-improvement. Agreed but I'm struggling as to how you could be educated - I have a few ideas in the 'improved' space however.

14. Put everybody in the company to work to accomplish the transformation. The transformation is everybody's job. Everyone's job, which you would know if you'd ever had one, is to keep that job and the revenue it commands - that may or may not be aligned with your corporate objectives. Once you understand this, you might be ready to apply for a job in management.
The evidence of the success of Demining‘s philosophy is there for all to see; the global growth and success of the Japanese car industry in the second half of the 20th century and the continued use of Demmings principles in most of the world‘s large product manufacturing businesses.

It‘s application outside of manufacturing is less clear; Deming is really about commoditising a good or service and it doesn’t really work for the bespoke. Personally, I don’t think Demming has much relevance to changing today’s Army. It‘s also rather dated in the digital age.

However, there is still much that can be learnt from Demming and many otherd who have developed business philosophies. He’s arguably far more relevant at the strategic level of leading and managing change than any of the long dead generals whose leadership we study.
 

jrwlynch

LE
Book Reviewer
Sorry, I was talking in the context of major combat operations in Eastern Europe.

Fairy snuff - my own experience (not Army since 1996 but supporting and assisting since) is that there was and remains a definite issue with risk-aversion. We shouldn't welcome casualties, but there is the grim fact that if you want to win, soldiers will die doing so.

I've said it before, but there was a 2004 piece in "The Infantryman" about the Para multiple in Majar al-Kabir during the viciousness that saw six RMPs executed; they attributed getting out with no fatalities to fitness, good drills, and light personal load (having decided not to wear helmets and ECBA, the then-current maximal protection) which allowed them to keep moving fast enough to avoid being surrounded and having to re-enact the Alamo or Dien Bien Phu.

But that seems largely forgotten or disregarded, with "full PPE at all times" and "no MERT, no operation" and deliveries of whole blood to assist casualties prioritised over CAS sorties to win the battle (battlespace management being a complex beast, and a cargo UAS being an inconvenient FOD hazard) being the current reality.
 
Fairy snuff - my own experience (not Army since 1996 but supporting and assisting since) is that there was and remains a definite issue with risk-aversion. We shouldn't welcome casualties, but there is the grim fact that if you want to win, soldiers will die doing so.

I've said it before, but there was a 2004 piece in "The Infantryman" about the Para multiple in Majar al-Kabir during the viciousness that saw six RMPs executed; they attributed getting out with no fatalities to fitness, good drills, and light personal load (having decided not to wear helmets and ECBA, the then-current maximal protection) which allowed them to keep moving fast enough to avoid being surrounded and having to re-enact the Alamo or Dien Bien Phu.

But that seems largely forgotten or disregarded, with "full PPE at all times" and "no MERT, no operation" and deliveries of whole blood to assist casualties prioritised over CAS sorties to win the battle (battlespace management being a complex beast, and a cargo UAS being an inconvenient FOD hazard) being the current reality.
Perhaps that is symptomatic of an Army that has institutionally forgotten (or, more accurately, deliberately destroyed) the knowledge to fight a peer enemy in a war that existentially threatens the British way of life. In a war of choice against a non-peer enemy, commanders can chose when to fight because the enemy rarely has the capability to dictate tempo. Commanders cannot do so against a peer who will seek to dictate tempo.

I’ve argued on here previously that before getting in to a war of choice, we really ought to be asking questions of cost, including likely casualties and asking those questions at the strategic level. IMHO it’s both intellectually and morally bankrupt to enter in to a conflict with little or no idea of what it will take to achieve the strategic aims. “She’ll be right mate, we’re the best in the world” hasn’t worked and never will.
 

Cold_Collation

LE
Book Reviewer
Fairy snuff - my own experience (not Army since 1996 but supporting and assisting since) is that there was and remains a definite issue with risk-aversion. We shouldn't welcome casualties, but there is the grim fact that if you want to win, soldiers will die doing so.

I've said it before, but there was a 2004 piece in "The Infantryman" about the Para multiple in Majar al-Kabir during the viciousness that saw six RMPs executed; they attributed getting out with no fatalities to fitness, good drills, and light personal load (having decided not to wear helmets and ECBA, the then-current maximal protection) which allowed them to keep moving fast enough to avoid being surrounded and having to re-enact the Alamo or Dien Bien Phu.

But that seems largely forgotten or disregarded, with "full PPE at all times" and "no MERT, no operation" and deliveries of whole blood to assist casualties prioritised over CAS sorties to win the battle (battlespace management being a complex beast, and a cargo UAS being an inconvenient FOD hazard) being the current reality.
The impression I was given recently goes further: to the extent that the card being played is along the lines of the public won’t put up with seeing another coffin coming off a C-17.

Which reads more like reasons being given to not get involved at all*. Well, we don’t always get to choose.

On moving swiftly: the guys in Afghanistan were reduced to a fast shuffle when following up. Fine with small arms, maybe. Not good for getting out of the way of 155mm.



*And is a very good excuse for Yebbut Rangers rather than proper changes to capability.
 
Eh? Almost every OC and CO I came across used a variation of “my main aim is to bring all the boys home” prior to going on tour.

They meant it. The blokes expected it. And the blokes - after their first month in theatre at least - had a very keen eye for spotting commanders who they thought were taking too much risk in pursuit of success.

Oh, and ever met a brigade commander who was happy to approve anything but the most minimal activity if the (very limited) MERT capability was close to full commitment?

I’m not disagreeing with it, but it was and is a fact. And I’ll believe that the new Ranger units will accompany their mentors into contact when I see it happen after the first time it goes wrong.

Go/No Go for their US counterparts is practically having Spectre on call and I can’t see our risk appetite differing.

For Africa, US SOF have had to up their skills for prolonged medical stabilisation in the field

If the new Rangers fall under SF reporting restrictions, that might have a mitigative effect.
 
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Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
My bold. The Army wasn't in true control of its destiny in either campaign.
A lot of that was by its own choice. Nobody forced, for example, the current CGS to plan an entire 6-month Brigade operation to win over the Americans. Other countries made different choices, ran their provincial AOR differently, and had different results. Certainly only the Americans could have "won" the war. But the cold fact that historians will clearly state is that Britain lost both Helmand and Basra and had to be bailed out by massive influxes of American troops both times.

I also just disagree with the narrative re: the government that has emerged, which conveniently absolves senior military leadership from responsibility. From everything I've read, everything I saw and everyone I've talked to (and that's a lot), the government and civil service were almost entirely absent from key decisions from 2004 onwards. By default, that left many of those strategic decisions to the military, including it seems the entire 'campaign strategy' (such as it was) for Helmand, the one that conveniently disappeared subsequently. This was often done badly - devolved in practice to the operational commander on the ground. Again, that is a failure of the officers in charge of PJHQ and elsewhere. The exception to light or absent civilian control was resourcing. But while the MOD was not resourced perfectly, it was by the middle of that period resourced very well, yet it still took four years for that to get fully invested in the campaigns.

If generals could not do their job with "very good" resourcing; if generals could not do their job with a very high level of strategic and operational control; what ******* use are they? We lost two major campaigns in which they had close to optimal conditions. Our involvement in one of those campaigns (Helmand) was at their encouragement. If our failure to achieve anything like success is not a military failure, then the idea of military competence simply doesn't exist. That claim inherently means the military is irrelevant. To a military campaign. This is self-serving nonsense generated by officers desperately trying to slope shoulders.

The answer to this is always "O well it's complicated in reality", which of course is true. But if the generals we had were not capable of managing that complexity, then they were not the generals or leaders we needed. However you look at it or try to retcon or spin it, abject failure is failure. Now that outcome is crystal clear, I've had enough of the officers whose - when I and many in others in various places were warning of this outcome over the years - only inclination was to spin, bluff, ignore, silence and when they replied, say that perception was the only thing that mattered. Only idiots or liars said that. In war, reality will always assert itself. It did. We lost. The evidence was all over your TV screens this summer.

All those people were wrong, for years, with terrible results. They have no credibility. In a more just world they would be convicted for culpable manslaughter and sentenced to clearing minefields somewhere with inadequate PPE. As it is, we could at least stop giving them airtime, stop giving them comfy sinecures and shiny gongs, and stop listening to their bullshit.
 

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
I've said it before, but there was a 2004 piece in "The Infantryman" about the Para multiple in Majar al-Kabir during the viciousness that saw six RMPs executed; they attributed getting out with no fatalities to fitness, good drills, and light personal load (having decided not to wear helmets and ECBA, the then-current maximal protection) which allowed them to keep moving fast enough to avoid being surrounded and having to re-enact the Alamo or Dien Bien Phu.
This was also a key lesson learned, at least at the NCO and junior leader level, in 2006 (which didn't just comprise sitting in CPs but had a lot of aggressive maneuver early on). Was taught to me as a Para joe by instructors just returned in 2007, and I talked with several Captains and Sgts in 2009 who strongly disagreed with a status quo of max PPE at all times regardless of tactical assessment. As they saw it, their hard-won lessons had just been ignored.
 

Bubbles_Barker

LE
Book Reviewer
If generals could not do their job with "very good" resourcing; if generals could not do their job with a very high level of strategic and operational control; what ******* use are they? We lost two major campaigns in which they had close to optimal conditions. Our involvement in one of those campaigns (Helmand) was at their encouragement. If our failure to achieve anything like success is not a military failure, then the idea of military competence simply doesn't exist. That claim inherently means the military is irrelevant. To a military campaign. This is self-serving nonsense generated by officers desperately trying to slope shoulders.
I wholeheartedly agree with a lot of what you say but then again, despite having perhaps a 'better' way of operating, our Allies also lost and the US lost greatly - I disagree they had 'better results'.

As for 'very good' resourcing...you can't be serious surely? Was it a general who said that? If so, then that's the problem right there.
 
A lot of that was by its own choice. Nobody forced, for example, the current CGS to plan an entire 6-month Brigade operation to win over the Americans. Other countries made different choices, ran their provincial AOR differently, and had different results. Certainly only the Americans could have "won" the war. But the cold fact that historians will clearly state is that Britain lost both Helmand and Basra and had to be bailed out by massive influxes of American troops both times.

I also just disagree with the narrative re: the government that has emerged, which conveniently absolves senior military leadership from responsibility. From everything I've read, everything I saw and everyone I've talked to (and that's a lot), the government and civil service were almost entirely absent from key decisions from 2004 onwards. By default, that left many of those strategic decisions to the military, including it seems the entire 'campaign strategy' (such as it was) for Helmand, the one that conveniently disappeared subsequently. This was often done badly - devolved in practice to the operational commander on the ground. Again, that is a failure of the officers in charge of PJHQ and elsewhere. The exception to light or absent civilian control was resourcing. But while the MOD was not resourced perfectly, it was by the middle of that period resourced very well, yet it still took four years for that to get fully invested in the campaigns.

If generals could not do their job with "very good" resourcing; if generals could not do their job with a very high level of strategic and operational control; what ******* use are they? We lost two major campaigns in which they had close to optimal conditions. Our involvement in one of those campaigns (Helmand) was at their encouragement. If our failure to achieve anything like success is not a military failure, then the idea of military competence simply doesn't exist. That claim inherently means the military is irrelevant. To a military campaign. This is self-serving nonsense generated by officers desperately trying to slope shoulders.

The answer to this is always "O well it's complicated in reality", which of course is true. But if the generals we had were not capable of managing that complexity, then they were not the generals or leaders we needed. However you look at it or try to retcon or spin it, abject failure is failure. Now that outcome is crystal clear, I've had enough of the officers whose - when I and many in others in various places were warning of this outcome over the years - only inclination was to spin, bluff, ignore, silence and when they replied, say that perception was the only thing that mattered. Only idiots or liars said that. In war, reality will always assert itself. It did. We lost. The evidence was all over your TV screens this summer.

All those people were wrong, for years, with terrible results. They have no credibility. In a more just world they would be convicted for culpable manslaughter and sentenced to clearing minefields somewhere with inadequate PPE. As it is, we could at least stop giving them airtime, stop giving them comfy sinecures and shiny gongs, and stop listening to their bullshit.
Look at all the chuck ups for Op PITTING - yes it was hard, bloody tough for the troops, with horrific humanitarian effects on the civpop, then again what NEO isn't?

This amount of acclamation hasn't been poured over a side show to a major disaster since Rorke's Drift...
 
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A lot of that was by its own choice. Nobody forced, for example, the current CGS to plan an entire 6-month Brigade operation to win over the Americans. Other countries made different choices, ran their provincial AOR differently, and had different results. Certainly only the Americans could have "won" the war. But the cold fact that historians will clearly state is that Britain lost both Helmand and Basra and had to be bailed out by massive influxes of American troops both times.

I also just disagree with the narrative re: the government that has emerged, which conveniently absolves senior military leadership from responsibility. From everything I've read, everything I saw and everyone I've talked to (and that's a lot), the government and civil service were almost entirely absent from key decisions from 2004 onwards. By default, that left many of those strategic decisions to the military, including it seems the entire 'campaign strategy' (such as it was) for Helmand, the one that conveniently disappeared subsequently. This was often done badly - devolved in practice to the operational commander on the ground. Again, that is a failure of the officers in charge of PJHQ and elsewhere. The exception to light or absent civilian control was resourcing. But while the MOD was not resourced perfectly, it was by the middle of that period resourced very well, yet it still took four years for that to get fully invested in the campaigns.

If generals could not do their job with "very good" resourcing; if generals could not do their job with a very high level of strategic and operational control; what ******* use are they? We lost two major campaigns in which they had close to optimal conditions. Our involvement in one of those campaigns (Helmand) was at their encouragement. If our failure to achieve anything like success is not a military failure, then the idea of military competence simply doesn't exist. That claim inherently means the military is irrelevant. To a military campaign. This is self-serving nonsense generated by officers desperately trying to slope shoulders.

The answer to this is always "O well it's complicated in reality", which of course is true. But if the generals we had were not capable of managing that complexity, then they were not the generals or leaders we needed. However you look at it or try to retcon or spin it, abject failure is failure. Now that outcome is crystal clear, I've had enough of the officers whose - when I and many in others in various places were warning of this outcome over the years - only inclination was to spin, bluff, ignore, silence and when they replied, say that perception was the only thing that mattered. Only idiots or liars said that. In war, reality will always assert itself. It did. We lost. The evidence was all over your TV screens this summer.

All those people were wrong, for years, with terrible results. They have no credibility. In a more just world they would be convicted for culpable manslaughter and sentenced to clearing minefields somewhere with inadequate PPE. As it is, we could at least stop giving them airtime, stop giving them comfy sinecures and shiny gongs, and stop listening to their bullshit.
Excellent post in sentiment. But resourcing excellent? Certainly not in the early iterations. We sent soldiers on the streets in both Afghanistan and Iraq in Snatch FFS. It took way too long for senior leaders to front up and demand the right resources. By then is was too late. It’s the General’s job to secure the resources FFS
 

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
I wholeheartedly agree with a lot of what you say but then again, despite having perhaps a 'better' way of operating, our Allies also lost and the US lost greatly - I disagree they had 'better results'.
This assessment also applies to the US. At least the US, however, 'failed faster' and turned around change programs quicker. Their military campaigns can also claim to have real successes (Iraq post-surge), where I'm not sure ours can.

I was mostly referring to allies who ran provinces in Iraq and (mostly) Afghanistan differently to us, and who reached local compacts which were derided at the time as lacking aggression or risk-averse, but have had the same or better outcomes in the long term, and costing less cash, fewer limbs and fewer lives.

As for 'very good' resourcing...you can't be serious surely? Was it a general who said that? If so, then that's the problem right there.
Note, to you and @bobthebuilder and others, I said from the middle of that period - so from around 2007/8.

Many generals have said that, at least in public. I have it on good authority (1st hand sources) that a number of key generals said that, or were at least silent, in private with their civilian or ministerial counterparts. From about 2008, many many lower ranking officers also said it in "private", i.e. to their subordinates, regardless of whether they bitched about it elsewhere.

These behaviours aren't part of the problem, or exacerbating the problem, they are the problem. We developed, selected and encouraged an officer class who were no longer soldiers: they were bargain basement politicians who produced only political failures; consensus winners who presided over divisions, and not the type they wanted. Empirically their key skill was personal advancement up the Army career ladder. From current accounts, we are still doing the same today, but in a peacetime Army, it's even worse.

EDIT: You can make an argument that, judging by its priorities over the past 8 years, the Army has at least acknowledged the lesson of "to a hammer every problem is a nail", and is trying to set itself up to understand the situation better and have options other than go kinetic. In other words, they seem to have tacitly acknowledged that the allied (European countries mostly) way of running some places in Afghan were preferable. They have actively tried to develop the capabilities to do this. Positive point.

That said, although they have put resource and effort into these capabilities, having been in them, they have completely failed to acknowledge and deal with the cultural and command problems that meant they were never an option in Iraq/Helmand. Nor have they seriously addressed the problem (and it is a real problem) of incompetence in many of these branches that aren't core combat disciplines. The base problem of this incompetence is tat competence is undefined. It remains undefined because most of the seniors/officers we have brought up under the "career socialite" framework of Army leadership (i.e. make friends and influence people) are afraid they will not meet any definition. If you are still in and have doubts about your J2 officers, for example, apply this theory and see if it fits.

Without fixing those three things, there is close to zero chance that these capabilities will actually be used if we ever need them in future. So the Army will revert to just doing what it wants to do, without ever being fully conscious of what that is or why.
 
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As for 'very good' resourcing...you can't be serious surely? Was it a general who said that? If so, then that's the problem right there.

Procurement and the UOR system as a reactive resource wasn't bad.

Given you never start a war with equipment completely appropriate for whatever kicks off (look at how the experimental brigade outcomes fared during WW2).

And significant resources had to have been used, otherwise wouldn't we'd be jumping in to fleets of perfect AJAX and BOXER, procured and manufactured in parallel?
 

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Yes. The most recently departed most senior personifies.
What depresses me is that people still look at Carter and go "well he's just a weasel". No. He's a weasel because you have built a weasel production line. If you think CDS is a weasel, your priority is to fix the system that produced and promoted him.
 
I disagree.

In an increasingly technologically dominated battle space, which incidentally affects all three services, the senior levels of the Army have continued to be dominated by wilful amateurs who push back against any form of intellectual rigour in favour of boots and bullets. The other two services continue to keep a grip of technology, the risks it faces and how to either harness or counter it - in part because they realise realities, which include that the only way to continue to survive in their domains is to be at the top of the game. Wedgetail acquisition is a case in point.

Across this thread, tales are legion of how those with any form of technological knowledge or insight are kept out of influence by those who've done all that apparently matters about soldiering - infantry-work, whether light or special.

There is an irony and a liability attached to Mark Carleton-Smith stating that we have to "take a gamble" on technology when the battlefield is awash with technology... and has been for many decades.

The skill-at-arms of even the best infantryman can only do so much against it. The flesh and bones of even the hoariest SF soldier are no more proof to bullets and splinters than any other human, and Osprey can only do so much. In many instances, you need protection equivalent to many centimetres of RHA plate, active protection systems, or else the manoeuvrability and agility to get out of the way. This is especially true in a contemporary peer environment.

In fact, pause for a moment. Peer environment? We are off the pace. We are no longer top tier and instead of addressing that some Army VSOs are trying to divert from it.

Both the RN and the RAF are working hard to preserve the ability to go out and face peer foes head-on and batter them into submission if needed. The conceit, the excuse, behind which Army VSOs hide, meanwhile, is that the public no longer has the stomach for military casualties.

Sometimes, unfortunately, they are inevitable. Whether the public or politicians like that or not is immaterial. That point being made, you then have to think about how to best equip and protect the men and women you are sending out to fight. Pretending that we are so smart that, through a combination of intelligence and smartness, we will be able to predict conflict before it happens, every single time, and so either act pre-emptively or somehow fight without fighting, is weapons-grade bovine scatology.

Sometimes, we will have no option but to go out and fight.

The public is remarkably tolerant of casualties if the cause is right. Public squeamishness is being used by VSOs who have kicked cans up the road, given in to and indulged their own prejudices, and seen personal progression as more important than preserving, much less improving, the land portion of our military.

The same people who are declaring that we have to take a gamble on technology are the same ones wilfully ignorant of it as the domain of geeks (albeit ones in uniform), or else declaring that the technology used by allies and peers alike is irrelevant.

We are either the only ones who are right, or the only ones who are wrong.

I have no faith in the former being the case. I have rather more faith in there being an excluding cohort and an intellectual paucity at the very top - not least because allies and potential foes alike are pursuing many of the same avenues we are at the same time as pursuing significant upgrades and additions to many of the things that we declare to be irrelevant.

The government's diversity targets are the least of the Army's problems, believe me.

I think we're at cross purposes here. I should have been clearer in my original post.

I have no doubt that the army is it's own worst enemy when it comes to technical innovation and new battlespace concepts. I've also no doubt that VSOs lack the intellectual/cultural background and mindset to meet the demands of leading the Army into the next few decades. As a group, they also seem to have slid into a culture that values image over substance, and is increasingly deceitful, short-termist, self-serving and acquiescent. Generals appear to be adopting the values and methods of politicians.

In part, the Army's problems may begin with the AOSB that aims to recruit reasonably capable 'all rounders' who demonstrate practical skills under pressure and are neither too bright, not too dim. The annual AOSB crop may contain the raw material to make into effective platoon commanders within 18 months. It doesn't seem to contain many original thinkers or fine minds. What technical talent the army identifies by captain level, it doesn't really know what to do with. I know that there are programs at Shrivenham etc. but do they groom high flyers? The traditional supremacy of the Infantry over technical corps in promotion stakes exacerbates the problem.

The RN and RAF (with their ingrained cultures of technical innovation and dependence on scientific thinkers) have emerged as the true professionals in the 21st century. The Army is increasingly hidebound and continues to fall behind in the unofficial international league tables.

My point is that the issue of technical development and battlespace management aside, government imposed diversity requirements, will erode the 'boots and bayonets' capability within a generation. What's left of morale, and macho cachet for recruitment purposes will go with it. There will be a 2nd tier army on a technological/battlespace management level and a 2nd tier army on a gutter fighting level. I would characterise such and army as a mediocre island defence force, possibly with the capability to perform non-kinetic UN peacekeeping missions.
 

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