Civilianising a post - would the Army go for it?


Kit Reviewer
I'm a civvy in DE&S (don't boo too loud) and I'm getting mightily fucked off with my current post. I work in what could be considered a "growth area" within Defence capability, but have spent the last few years waiting to procure a number of projects that various other organisations are supposed to be defining but haven't. I feel like I know my particular specialty as well as anyone, and want to apply it in a more interesting and worthwhile position.

Luckily for me the various useless arrseholes in Whitehall, upon whom I have unsuccessfully relied for so long, have now deferred responsibility to a branch of the Army that looks to have more drive and knowledge to push things along. Unfortunately they don't have the manpower, in absolute numbers or skill-sets, to really get to grips with it - at least not in a timeframe that will save me from being flexibly-resourced out to somewhere shit buying loo roll and tent pegs. So I've come up with a cunning plan.

My new user focus is a 4-man team of 1x SO1 with 3x SO2s. The SO2 posts have historically been difficult to fill, usually have at least one post gapped and rarely have a domain expert in place. I would like to sow the seed into the SO1's brain that civilianising one of the posts will have merit, and that I would be the best man for the job. I feel I have a reasonable grip on what constitute pros and cons in this scenario, but would like the views of ARRSE to make sure I'm not missing anything and can present a reasonable argument to the Colonel.

The basic civvy-vs-officer argument suggests that I am cheaper to employ, more flexible, and more likely to offer continuity within the team (which as mentioned earlier is a major issue in this instance). On the flip side I do not have power of rank and would come with the usual stigma of a civilian requiring some form of respect in a military environment. My personal skills are more applicable to the field, which is inherently technical, than the infantry and cavalry that normally inhabit the posts, and I also have an academic and experiential background in dealing with procurement and Whitehall.

In my mind the argument is solid. The posts can't be filled by military at the best of times, and a tame geek who can speak to DE&S at the right level, backed up with the remaining military posts for impact, sounds like a genuinely effective concept. So would it be enough to sell the idea, or would the prospect of sacrificing a military post (even in these times of austerity) be too big an ask for a small unit? What sort of assurances does an SO1 need in this situation, what do I need to be telling him? How can I strengthen my case?

As ever, any advice is appreciated!

My assumption is that you fancy being an RM, as I'm not aware of any other parts of DE&S which are 100% military.

Anyway, the bottom line is that this will all depend on the individual(s) in the appropriate decision making positions but a few thoughts:

  • I doubt very much whether cost will come into it as I don't think that the civvy and military G1 budgets ever meet.
  • Continuity is a good argument although one that may not flick the SO1s switch as he himself is only in post for a limited time!
  • Do the 3 x SO2 posts do the same thing or (more likely) do they have individual areas that they manage. Is one of these more appropriate for a civilian?
  • On the assumption you are talking about an RMs post, in my experience the whole point of them is to be user focussed which means that they're not necessarily that technically minded .... even if they have done the Shriv DTC cse ....
  • Aren't RM posts actually part of the Caps in MoD rather than DE&S? Even if the roles and posts transfer to 'CD whatever' then I think you have the same problem

That's all fairly negative I know but I suspect you've got some major hurdles to overcome before this happens.

I'll drop you a PM with some more info
  • Aren't RM posts actually part of the Caps in MoD rather than DE&S? Even if the roles and posts transfer to 'CD whatever' then I think you have the same problem
They are - and those posts are being ring-fenced by the Caps in order to protect their overall numbers of military staff, particularly at SO2 level. We already have fewer OF3 than we will require by the 2015 target.

I know you know that BCO - but most probably don't.


Kit Reviewer
Trying my hand as an RM was my second get-out option providing Cap GM would be happy to civilianise a post - but I accept that this would be even less likely. It's a shame because my current professional development focus is weighted heavily to requirements definition, in far more detail than the stock DBLearning 3-day course!

The post in question not DE&S or Cap at all - it's not even HQ Land (which is where the majority of my current Cap representatives will end up). Essentially I would be moving from procurement to the user community. I'd rather be writing up the capability concepts, generating URDs and managing capabilities in-service than be sat around waiting for a sponsor to hand me paperwork that is currently non-existent. The user want to do a lot in this area but has never been willing or able to put it on paper; I believe I know exactly what needs to happen but am not currently in the right job to do anything about it.

The three SO2 posts cross over in some respects but are essentially different. Two are quite plainly military posts looking at specific military effects, but the third focuses on capability integration and can be quite technical (or at least it could/should be if all three posts ever got filled at the same time). Granted I have a skewed view given my aims, but at my most objective I reckon it's perfectly suited to a civvy geek.

There is a fourth SO2 post in this team that is already filled by a civvy tech, although he's ex-mil on an MSF-type role and runs a system in-unit rather than acting as a capability advisor. That gives me confidence that the team are at least capable of managing civilian staff - one of my main concerns would be the difference in line-management requirements putting the SO1 off if they needed to understand more bureaucracy rubbish. Especially if it's the first time they'd see HRMS :-/
The whole point of having a military RM is that he has the military experience/mindset to properly represent/understand the user, as a civil servant you are extremely unlikely to have the required experience (dependant on what you have done before and in which area you work).
The other area which would need some thought is the req verification and sign off aspect.

This has particular implications when trade inevitably begins for partial or non compliant requirements. Since the mil experience has to provide sme mil advice in the implications of req trade to the end user.

That's very difficult to get right if you are not an end user and understand the conops and confuse first hand.

CAP will be reluctant to let a civ represent him there. But, there are precedents.

Rather than civilianise an RM post which I think is unlikely, maybe select one you have the skillset for and is gapped and pursuaded the SO1 to fill it with you. Then when in the post you have the background for moving to other RM posts if successful.

If you need more info pm me.


Kit Reviewer
Like I said, the RM idea was secondary and I'd rather it didn't detract from the original question posed. Papa L, as you say there have been precedents - they have been set in this very area, so I'm not overly concerned. I work in an area where "boots on the ground" experience is probably of less importance than technical expertise, and my own working knowledge of the military combined with my skillset could be of more use than someone with half a dozen combat tours but no working knowledge of capability management or software. The role also involves canvassing the opinions of a wide array of stakeholders, and even a military RM's view would be shaped by the variety of people he was representing. I see no reason why a civilian can't be used to elicit and refine those viewpoints any differently. If anything we'd be less likely to suffer capbadge bias.


Kit Reviewer
Well I have a bit of an update. The SO1 has been away for some time so I haven't been able to have the discussion. However I've gained some support from people outside the team in question but with some influence on him. I've also just had a job-spec reshuffle which has increased my remit to spend some time in the team helping them with the job. With luck I can spent a fair bit of time around there proving my worth and gradually making my point. The man himself seems mightily pleased that he'll be having me around so there may yet be hope.
Interesting idea - I'd suggest the following may apply.

Firstly, be very wary of setting a precedent which may see further cuts. I've worked for a team where it went from 3 x Mil and was civilianised over time. Once budgetary staff work out that they can save cash by civilianising, it often leads that way, even when everyone says 'don't do this'. Beware of opening pandoras box! Also, consider how you can demonstrate that civilianisation will not impact on wider officer career development, as often some posts are used for growing staff.
Think very carefully about what grade the post should be - I don't want to get into the tired old 'CS grade equivalent' debate. BUT the military do as a rule tend to be less respectful of civil servants whom they perceive to be peers, or juniors. Will you be able to do the job as a Grade C2, or does it need to be 'boosted' to C1 in order to get the same level of access (for sake of argument). Its a real problem at Abbey Wood, where the plethora of B2 grades owes much to the unwillingness of some military to accept that C1 grades know what they are talking about.
Finally, be clear whether you can find a successor to the do the job too. You may be able to do it, but would your replacement be able to do so? There is a dearth of good talent in the CS, and a lack of ex-mil types through reduced recruitment. If you civilianise this post, can it be done for the long haul by a civil servant, or is it a one off that you can do it before it needs militarising again?
Jim, as I understand it the post has never successfully been filled by the military. I've worked with the team for four years and they've never filled more than two of the three posts - the one getting missed out is the post I'm after. In my opinion the chances it could be successfully filled by military are slim - existing skills are rare and not widely promoted in the Army, whereas the CS, particularly Dstl, has a variety of capable people and should continue to develop them.

I'm a C1 and wouldn't expect the post to be boosted in any way. That said I would expect to be the "junior" grade in the office regardless of whether or not it was equivalent. As a civilian I wouldn't expect to need to order military around as the post is more about providing advice and support, to wider Army but also to the other SO2s and the SO1.

Really can't comment on the rest of your post about officer development but I take the point and appreciate it would have a bearing on my proposition.

End of the day I expect to be spending half the time in my current job doing this role anyway. The SO1 seems to appreciate the contribution I've made so far and I'm just grateful that I'm able to make a difference. If it's only short term so be it, but I've an opportunity now to prove my long term value to the team and we'll just see how it pans out!

Sent from my GT-I9100P using Tapatalk 2
This military post, like many others across Defence, is probably never going to be filled, and it will simply lie dormant as an obselete PID until Army 2020 is complete - the reality is there are far more important jobs on which to employ military staff. So what - it won't be civilianised either, as there is no appetite in the CS to create more post, particularly those that the military put such a low pri on.

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