Genuine question for the Suppliers

Discussion in 'RLC' started by Mr_C_Hinecap, Feb 4, 2007.

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  1. As an RAF loggie working on a few projects with RLC guys (and RN), I sometimes get very frustrated by the archaic procedures used by the Army. It baffles me that some of the obvious things are allowed to perpetuate and drag down your business.

    My particular point (there is one) is wanting to ask whether you think it would be good to put RLC further forward and take on the Supply role of the QM? I'm not suggesting do away with the QM, but put professional suppliers up there to take on the Stores/Supply role. IMHO, the biggest hurdle to proper and slick logistical support is the last link - the untrained amateur if you will. We don't have old aircraft engineers placing demands at the Squadron - we have Suppliers there to give the best service to the customer. The new stuff happening in the Supply Chain (MJDI, MMiT, VITAL) will free up bodies further back - so why not grip the initiative and make the RLC the true end-to-end it should be?
  2. So which projects are you working on?

    If it was anything relevant you would already know that:

    a) There aren't enough Suppliers to man the Log Sp Regts, let alone every Quartermasters department. The Suppliers are there to provide supply expertise (such as provisioning, for example), not to originate demands in QM depts or provide storemen - their staff can do that perfectly adequately.

    b) On ops/exercises there ARE Suppliers in a BG QMs - the LSDs

    c) The advent of the PEP means that there is even less work for the QM dept to do, and even less provisioning for the Suppliers at the secondary depots.

    But you are right about the archaic procedures and to 'grip the initiative' more resources are required and those simply aren't there. We are also short of officers with supply expertise. But that situation is being addressed, I think.
  3. The reason is mainly historical...

    The Navy operates from fixed ports and has always used civvies to run their stores from the time of Pepys. What the matelots do at sea is up to the Captain, but they don't sit at the end of a log chain apart from the odd RASS.

    The RAF operates from large chunks of concrete nailed down to terra firma. From early WW2 has operated a system of station based servicing and log support. As the RAF spends the majority of it's budget on toys, the supply system is somewhat bloated and can afford the luxury of lots of specialists at every level.

    The Army operates in a completely different mode. The basic brick is the battalion, which still has an amazing degree of autonomy. Armies have to work anywhere, in any conditions and to a much greater extent that the other services, make it up as they go along. In the past a battalion pretty well fed and equipped itself. This has gradually diminished since Napolionic times, but COs (and their QMs) still retain an amazing amount of power and autonomy over the loggies (fellas from Trade dont'ja know..)

    Yes, I agree that a sophisticated log chain should not end up in the hands of the greatest undetected criminals in the forces, however I don't see this changing in the near future. What would you do with all the buckshee RSMs...?

    (Answers on a postcard to Arrse)
    Edited for Mong spellling
  4. I agree with what you are saying, whole heartadly, we are so Draconian in our ways at times. Its all about having the right people in the right places and many of the QMs have a limited understanding of the supply trade, in their defenc though, suppliers also have limited understanding of 1st line accounting or other services, this could be counteracted with them being employed within QMs Departments. I do not ever envisage this happening, primarily due to traditions and different Cap Badges not wanting to lose valuable commisioning posts to another cap badge! The QMs wisdom is a great assett to the CO and much of his wisdom comes from his time served in the ranks of his cap badge.
  5. C_Hinecap

    I believe that there is a very good Army answer to your question. The CSups and materiel that go through the QM's Dept is destined for use by the troops in the sub-units, who are the end-user producing operational effect on the ground. The first line user within Coy/Sqn/Bty must be able to both maintain his own equipment and demand necessary supplies.

    The staff in the QM's Dept are off the same cap-badge as the people in the sub-units but are not untrained amateurs. They should all have done a basic qualification such as the All Arms Storemans Course or be CQMS or RQMS trained. Many of the personnel in that Dept require further qualifications for working with ammunition, fuel, water, medical supplies, etc. The QMs (plural) should both be QM trained. Unless these course requirements have been ignored the QM's staff are not unqualified, although they may not have a background in supply.

    Within the Army there has to be a cut-off point between supplier and other cap-badge user at some point. For us the interface is generally between 1st and 2nd line although some (?) units do have RLC Suppliers in the USA for demanding tech stores (although I unsure as to which units and why). The over-riding principle in my mind is that of ownership. By using 'All Arms' qualified but own cap-badge people in the QM's Dept, it forces the CO and his internal CoC to take ownership of their own supply issues and a myriad of associated equipment husbandry responsibilities.

    The RAF comparison is an interesting one. If you are thinking of flying Sqns then you are presumably talking about small numbers of high value spares keeping a small number of airframes operational. Therefore, you need professional suppliers. In the Army we are dealing far more with high quantity but lower value assets. We do seperate things of greater value such as weapons, optics, electronic devices, etc.

    The bottom line is that the Army system works for the Army, as long as personnel are course qualified, disciplined and supervised well by the internal hierarchy. It falls down when QM's are too thick or idle to understand the system and make it work correctly.


  6. Professional and Suppliers all in one post, Oh how I laughed
    (awaiting incoming)
  7. Two 'f's' and 's' in professional, oh how I laughed.
  8. A few points here chaps - many thanks for the input. I think the changing nature of logistics, jointery in Theatre and the very question of ownership are the crucual factors that are changing the nature of Supply.

    Omlette - apart from belittling the projects I'm working on, they are the Joint projects that are changing the loggy world - part of that change is reducing the need for human intervention in the 2nd Line and backwards - these people will not be needed in such numbers. I do admire your belief in PEPs - we've been running them for a hell of a long time and they are not a panacea as oft touted.

    HE117 has hit on some valid points, but I'll mention them last.

    Jose - an example of archaic procedures is having different accounting principles in 1st & 2nd Lines - there is no need for that - a single method of accounting is far more practical and sensible (not to mention easier to understand, support and even train). I'm not advocating getting rid of the QM - I do understand his value to the Bde - just let the Supplier do Supply for him - get a pro in there and give proper end-to-end service.

    Mr Logic - you raise a few valid points that are fairly historical and go against what I've seen/heard. QMs are, by their nature, teeth arm types with many yrs experience - they do not become Supply professionals - they get another qualification - do another short course. The biggest complaint I've heard is that the 'sick, lame & lazy' end up staffing that role working for the QM - further detracting from the service the front line should get.

    Ownership is one of the biggest problems I see in the future - and where the RAF differs in culture. As the battlefield becomes more technical, you're supporting more technologically advanced equipment - something we do - the high value, scarce assets. These become battle-winning and, as such, need tighter management - possibly moving to where they are needed for the effect of the Theatre cdr. This is where the ownership issue changes most dramatically - ownership is with the higher authority. Also, a single method of accounting for all assets gives advantages as mentioned. We the RAF will never fight from our concrete bases again - so we need to learn expeditionary warfare from the Army - you are getting more technology-based so can take some of what we do to manage those assets effectively. The RN will still have ships with limited space, so will always be 'one out, fill the space with the same'. I still don't advocate getting rid of the QM - just give him the right Trade to support his business properly. Thanks for your inputs.
  9. Next you will suggest that QMG is a Supplier!
  10. Mr_C_Hinecap

    IMHO your lack of experience of Army units is showing here. I am serving at Regimental Duty and what I posted before is what I see here and what I have experienced in other units. Developed over hundreds of years perhaps, like much of the Army, but retained in current form as it works in barracks and on operations.

    As to QMs being teeth arms, you will find that the QM is normally from the same cap-badge as the Regiment he is part of. RE and RA units don't need to go outside to other cap-badges to find suitable candidates to be QMs. If you can find a Regular RLC unit that has a teeth arms QM I would say it is the exception rather than the rule. All QMs have to do the QMs course run at Deepcut and many other courses related to SHEF, civil labour, etc. I do not know what you consider to be a supply professional but the Army will view a course qualified QM as being fit for role.

    You comment on the calibre of people manning a QM's Dept. You should consider that the QM and QM(T) are both LE offrs who have risen competitively through the OR ranks and are at the peak of achievement amongst their contemporaries. You will also find that in an infantry battalion the role of RQMS is a second tour WO2 slot and often seen as a stepping stone to RSM. Therefore, the QM's Dept has two LE offrs and two senior WO2s, all of whom are high achievers. The people below them are sometimes (but not always) the sick, lame and lazy you refer to but do not discount their value. They frequently stay in the QM's Dept long term and provide much continuity. Having served in the Coys/Sqns they know the soldiers they support and add much value that may not be immediately apparent.

    As to the nature of ground combat, much of what we are pushing forward while in contact is ammunition, fuel and rations. Our ethos of mission command and leadership means that decisions should be made at the lowest level by the man on thr ground. There is a large degree of trust involved (based on common drills and mutual understanding) but our major battle-winning assets are our people. Drawing back the decisions of where battle-winning equipment is employed may be right for the RAF but you should not assume that the same is correct for the Army.

    If you want to understand the methods and rationale of the Army QM system you should try and spend some time observing it. An armoured rolling replen at BATUS (or elsewhere) can be a very efficient thing when done well. The whole system may have inefficiencies but it works for us. Using RAF logic to solve what you view as being an Army problem may lead you to false conclusions.

  11. As a RAF Loggie, I can say with confidence that there is a big difference between running a store (like the QM as I understand it), which isn't very complicated and requires minimal training, and logistic planning, operating convoys and conducting effective forward echelon resupply which is the role of the logistic professional.

    Awaiting correction for obvious crab-based errors...
  12. Which are part of what the QM does.
  13. my apologies for being drunk and posting
  14. Apologies, I thought the QM only dealt with the kit once it had arrived with the forward chaps and the loggies concentrated on getting it there in the first place.

    *climbs back into box*
  15. BC,

    No need to apologise as you are partly correct and I should have provided you with more clarity.

    The loggies do conduct resupply up to a certain point in the supply chain (Bde RV, or DP, XP etc). BLOGO co-ords from here and each unit QM organises the internal resupply, and reverse supply chain, to the fighting (forward) echelons in his unit.