Duties - are they really necessary?

During yet another session of being the Regimental Orderly Officer, I began to contemplate what it was all about.  Having performed the duty of ROO/ROS since 1985, I can't really say that I have absolutely, definitely needed to be there for anything.  Now, I could be the luckiest Orderly Officer in the world, but somehow I don't really think so.  This got me thinking, so off I went to the guardroom to find out exactly how many duty personnel there were for this particular day- an astounding 19 not including the guard force!!!!!!!!!!  I really cannot believe that all of these people; most just on call but nevertheless on duty and within one hour of the camp and sober; really need to be on duty.  So now the big question; why? It is reasonably obvious why we have a guard force although many are just civilian companies these days (yes that includes MGS and MPGS- they are just civvies), but why all the others - DFO, ROO, ROS, duty driver, duty welfare, duty clerk, duty RP, duty chef, duty this that and the fu**ing other?  What on earth do they do that cannot be covered by the emergency services, local council services or as part of the everyday (I stress DAY) duties and checks of soldiers?  For example, why on earth does the ROO/ROS check the standard of meals - particularly with impending doom of pay as you dine; why do they check 3 items from the rations store -if the ration storeman wanted to rip the unit off, he would. Why duty welfare? The local council have duty social workers.  Why a duty clerk? - emergency 1771 or emergency typing? Why a duty chef - emergency bacon sarnies? Why a duty RP -nobody gets jailed anymore anyway?  I think that duties need to be completely overhauled and from the very top - not just at unit level. Even the ROO or ROS -what can they do that the civil police cannot do?  Do the higher echelons really think that the boys will misbehave any more than they already do just because there isn't an officer asleep in front of the TV in the mess or that there is one less pissed off Sgt staying in the mess that weekend?

Rant over - any comments?


War Hero

A lot there and I shall try and answer your comments individually.

but why all the others - DFO, ROO, ROS, duty driver, duty welfare, duty clerk, duty RP, duty chef,?
Because quite simply, for some posts mentioned - we care for our soldiers (wellbeing as well as H&S), and for the others, there is an operational capability reason . This is 24/7 activity and not a switch on/off state. I am not for servicemen being on duty for the sake of it, but I am sure that all the jobs you mentioned do have a role to play in looking after our soldiers irrespective of the time of day.

Why a duty RP -nobody gets jailed anymore anyway?  
But they can do - the extent of which depends on your guardroom.

I think that duties need to be completely overhauled and from the very top - not just at unit level.
This is the responsibility of the Commanding Officer and Bde/Garrison Standing Orders. If you do not understand the reason why, then speak to your RSM or Adjt.

Duties are something that rank brings until you get to the rank that you no longer do them. They teach you about dealing with a variety of situations and consequently improve your knowledge, confidence in command and ability to deal with a wide variety situations.

Many have gone before you moaning about duties - they are a fact of service life !
Apart from continually non-urgent comms coming thru  :mad: , indeed it is only very rarely that a testing situation comes up for the Duty bod. However, as and when it does happen, it's reassuring to have the contingency that is a band of 19 various staff.

However, I didn't realise that one had to be completely sober!  ;)

Of course, I agree with some of what you say but, for instance, the vast majority of our soldiers no longer regard the job as a 24/7 activity; a good example of this was the change of the leave week of 7 days to one of 5 days because it was not expected that they would work weekends.  If we wanted to provide our soldiers with a gold-plated, no-nonsense service, we (the managers) would be working 365 days a year.

As far as jailing soldiers is concerned, I am aware that to hold detainees the guardroom requires a licence from the Provost Marshall, but again, we used to jail soldiers at a whim (did one or two spells myself).  This is no longer the case except in excetional circumstances, so do we need cells anymore and therefore the duty RP?

Again, I agreee with you that the duties are the respnsibility of the CO in line with policy from higher formations - and as I said, this system need looking at from the top, not at unit level, units don't write higher formation policy.

I also agree that it is nice to have that warm cosy feeling that there is plenty of back-up should it be needed, but why should we duplicate the effort that is provided by the emergency services?  After all, civvies don't have a list of duty personnel in addition to those that we, as citizens of the UK, also have access to.


War Hero

Thanks for the reply. It is diffcult to comment on a number of points you make without knowing the fine detail.

That said, there is no harm at all by reviewing the duties because if those doing them do not understand the reason why, then this is very wrong. A review is within COs or RSMs remit, and I know in a number of Regiments this is done quite frequently. It is the larger depots or formations where there is normally a need for a serious review.

Duties are quite rightly a concern. No one joins to do them but they are a necessary evil. What the chain of command must do is to reduce them to the absolute minimum, and for those duties that are essential, everyone must understand the reasons why they have to be done.

As ever, the voice of experience and wisdom shows through.  Duties are indeed a necessary evil and like everything we do, be reviewed periodically other wise we become stale and forget the reasoning behind our procedures.  Perhaps the next time I am bored stupid on a duty, I shall put pen to paper and suggest some improvements, you never know, someone might listen.

Oracle  :)
You are the CO's representitive during silent hours.

In a tri service unit you are also there to make sure that the Duty Field Officer does not over, or under react.

Perhaps the next time I am bored stupid on a duty, I shall put pen to paper and suggest some improvements, you never know, someone might listen.
Interesting concept,  I did this every month, came back 4 years later and they still did not have the keys to the alternate ICP or the fallback telephone sorted out !. ;)
Perhaps a Duty CO or Duty RSM.... just incase some 'look at me' opportunity be missed. Wake up and smell the coffee, we have duties because of tradition, and the individuals governing these duties are to narrow minded to contemplate something called 'quality of life'.  ;)


An interesting discussion going on here, so here is my two penny worth..

1.  Some duties are necessary, if only to show a presence of authority (e.g. the Guard Room is always near the entrance to camp to remind you when you leave or enter camp that you're in the Army and subject to its rules etc).

2.  I have in my time done duties that were performed for the sake of it, to ensure that everyone on camp did at least one duty a month - it's that kind of mentality that creates resentment at doing ANY duty.

Now, this is why there are 2 sides to this conversation, with arguments for and against.  What is needed, as has been said, is for common sense to prevail and for the powers that be to decide exactly what duties are essential & what duties are there just for the sake of it.  
And to stir things up some more -

At Javelin Bks, do we really need 2 of everything, just because there are 2 regiments?  I think not.  Answers on a postcard, please..

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