Interesting court martial on the horizon, General in the dock.

Interesting - he goes on to say that these 'lads' were not created by the school but arrived with their egos 'fully formed'.
The brainwashing starts young, remember Eton starts at about 13/14 these 'lads' would have been at Prep and Pre Prep before that possibly from the age of three
 
The public school types I know personally are uniformly very charming and affable, they have a relaxed easygoing confidence, they exude an air of being natural leaders.

But can they really do "leadership"? Can they wield moral authority by embodying personal integrity, can their decision making faculties operate under pressure? Not noticeably better or worse than anyone else's in most cases, in some, very much worse. That's what these schools teach: the ability to bluff, a sort of method acting. A few can "fake it 'til they make it", most are just faking it, and historically those fakers used to get a lot of people killed.
I’m no longer convinced that leadership is about displaying integrity or making decisions under pressure. There are many successful leaders who are complete crooks. Making decisions under pressure is a moot point; making the right decision under pressure requires a huge amount of preparation and a degree of luck.

Leadership beyond the small team level is about developing and enunciating a clear vision, getting the right people around you and getting them to engage with and deliver that vision.

I’d question how many products of institutionalised education have a chance of creating a vision. I don’t think they ever really get far beyond the small team leadership thing.
 
I’m no longer convinced that leadership is about displaying integrity or making decisions under pressure. There are many successful leaders who are complete crooks.

Charisma can get you a very long way, sometimes it works out by sheer happenstance, sometimes it leaves your men killed or more likely these days your investors bankrupt, and even after surveying the carnage there will still be people saying, he was a great leader.
 

Glad_its_all_over

ADC
Book Reviewer
On leadership, I get the need for an elevated self-image and a presumption of virtue. It's important to train and educate an in-group into at least aspiring towards common values.

The reality is, I suspect, as @bobthebuilder suggests, that the led aren't that likely to be too concerned about the leader's moral integrity yadda yadda yadda, rather than they can trust him not to fuck them over unnecessarily, not to waste their lives and hard work and to achieve the aim. If they like him, that's a bonus, if they hate him, he probably won't be able to get things done.

The led often rather enjoy it if their leader's a bit of a wrong 'un, provided he doesn't break the single most important rule of British culture, military or civilian - 'don't take the piss'. It's impossible to define, but unmistakable when you see it.
 
On leadership, I get the need for an elevated self-image and a presumption of virtue. It's important to train and educate an in-group into at least aspiring towards common values.

The reality is, I suspect, as @bobthebuilder suggests, that the led aren't that likely to be too concerned about the leader's moral integrity yadda yadda yadda, rather than they can trust him not to fuck them over unnecessarily, not to waste their lives and hard work and to achieve the aim. If they like him, that's a bonus, if they hate him, he probably won't be able to get things done.

The led often rather enjoy it if their leader's a bit of a wrong 'un, provided he doesn't break the single most important rule of British culture, military or civilian - 'don't take the piss'. It's impossible to define, but unmistakable when you see it.

I was reflecting on @bobthebuilder's post, and thinking that one Anthony Charles Lynton Blair fitted the mould reasonably well. Your post, especially the last bit, very much underlines it.

To be clear, I never liked the sniveling w@nker, but he did manage to galvanize his support, promising a real change from the Thatcher and Major years. He was a very good orator, and delivered his message very well. But this is a bit like Monty having respect for Rommel's leadership - Rommel was still the enemy, as was Blair.

His defining moment of "taking the piss" was handing over the reins to Cyclops, who had already fvcked the economy, such that all that remained was to steer the ship into the abyss.

A right pair of w@nkers, but at the end of the day, both were Prime Ministers.
 
On leadership, I get the need for an elevated self-image and a presumption of virtue. It's important to train and educate an in-group into at least aspiring towards common values.

The reality is, I suspect, as @bobthebuilder suggests, that the led aren't that likely to be too concerned about the leader's moral integrity yadda yadda yadda, rather than they can trust him not to fuck them over unnecessarily, not to waste their lives and hard work and to achieve the aim. If they like him, that's a bonus, if they hate him, he probably won't be able to get things done.

The led often rather enjoy it if their leader's a bit of a wrong 'un, provided he doesn't break the single most important rule of British culture, military or civilian - 'don't take the piss'. It's impossible to define, but unmistakable when you see it.

Right, I don't mean that a leader has to be a cross between Gandhi and the Dalai Llama. I mean he has to have consistency between what he tells his followers he'll do (or won't do) and what he actually does (ditto). Even the most depraved gang of villains would expect that of their guv'nor.
 

Bubbles_Barker

LE
Book Reviewer
The brainwashing starts young, remember Eton starts at about 13/14 these 'lads' would have been at Prep and Pre Prep before that possibly from the age of three
Or perhaps their parents had more influence than the school.
 
If they like him, that's a bonus, if they hate him, he probably won't be able to get things done.

I did two CASTs in quick succession while I was an Ops Officer; the first was to watch our "sister" TA battalion (who we later amalgamated with) as an observer, as preparation for the second (our session).

It was interesting to compare the style of the two COs as they were being assessed; "theirs" was a STAB who I knew from when he was our Bn 2ic, great company and socially impeccable although... "given to self-publicity", self-serving, and more of a wide boy than was ever revealed. Not a tactical genius, by any means, and he loved his shiny new dress uniforms and Dinner Nights. "Ours" was a regular officer with a background in Recce Pl / DS at School of Infantry; not a deep thinker, but a nice enough guy, lots of operational experience, and absolutely honest and trustworthy. Day 1, Parade 1, he turned up from his job in Brecon wearing jungle boots, trops, and a windproof smock... (RSM was grinding his teeth, the subalterns were grinning in fashion-aware giddiness).

"Their" CO had the gift of sloping shoulders / doing his work for him delegation; if you could do the job, he encouraged you to get on with it (I got grabbed as a second Ops Officer, I suspect to the annoyance of his own Ops Officer; and ended up doing less "observing" and more "writing the plan/orders"). He listened to his fwd Coy Comd's ideas, and built his plan around a sound suggestion.

"Our" CO tried to Command, with All Invented Here, but couldn't cover everything and so... didn't (he had a habit of missing stuff then getting grumpy, we used to have to rescue our RSO mate Dave for his own sanity). Almost... Jonesian.

Neither of them were great at this tactics and orders and planning stuff. One of them made best use of their available people, and had a more successful visit to CAST; unsurprisingly it was "their" less-competent bloke who recognised his limitations, knew how to work around them, and had a happier and more effective HQ.

After they left, I don't think the Jocks would have cared much either way; but they'd certainly recognise one faster than the other, and frankly I'd rather not have gone to war with either - but one would be less likely to get me dead. It was a salutary lesson in unit command for this daft wee STAB :)
 
Or perhaps their parents had more influence than the school.
The parents? Don't make me laugh, anyone who despatches their infant children off to live with strangers for 2/3 of the year does not really qualify for that title. But I do agree, arrogant parents, quite possibly arrogant kids.
 
After finishing his 22 years, on his way to the ROC, GB Senior went through Cranditz on a six-week commissioning course with a mob of nurses. The lucky git. Enjoyed himself hugely, as it appeared to be a completely stress-free experience (I mean, sproggy FSgt instructor versus devious lightsider? Really?)

If you're dawnwatching this year, you can always remind him that he spent time with *cough* *spit* the RAF ;)
ahh the SERE or 'Vicars & Tarts' course
 
I did two CASTs in quick succession while I was an Ops Officer; the first was to watch our "sister" TA battalion (who we later amalgamated with) as an observer, as preparation for the second (our session).

It was interesting to compare the style of the two COs as they were being assessed; "theirs" was a STAB who I knew from when he was our Bn 2ic, great company and socially impeccable although... "given to self-publicity", self-serving, and more of a wide boy than was ever revealed. Not a tactical genius, by any means, and he loved his shiny new dress uniforms and Dinner Nights. "Ours" was a regular officer with a background in Recce Pl / DS at School of Infantry; not a deep thinker, but a nice enough guy, lots of operational experience, and absolutely honest and trustworthy. Day 1, Parade 1, he turned up from his job in Brecon wearing jungle boots, trops, and a windproof smock... (RSM was grinding his teeth, the subalterns were grinning in fashion-aware giddiness).

"Their" CO had the gift of sloping shoulders / doing his work for him delegation; if you could do the job, he encouraged you to get on with it (I got grabbed as a second Ops Officer, I suspect to the annoyance of his own Ops Officer; and ended up doing less "observing" and more "writing the plan/orders"). He listened to his fwd Coy Comd's ideas, and built his plan around a sound suggestion.

"Our" CO tried to Command, with All Invented Here, but couldn't cover everything and so... didn't (he had a habit of missing stuff then getting grumpy, we used to have to rescue our RSO mate Dave for his own sanity). Almost... Jonesian.

Neither of them were great at this tactics and orders and planning stuff. One of them made best use of their available people, and had a more successful visit to CAST; unsurprisingly it was "their" less-competent bloke who recognised his limitations, knew how to work around them, and had a happier and more effective HQ.

After they left, I don't think the Jocks would have cared much either way; but they'd certainly recognise one faster than the other, and frankly I'd rather not have gone to war with either - but one would be less likely to get me dead. It was a salutary lesson in unit command for this daft wee STAB :)

Living proof that really good Regular officers do not get posted to command TA/AR units, more's the pity.
 
Living proof that really good Regular officers do not get posted to command TA/AR units, more's the pity.
That's perhaps overly harsh. He was a decent bloke, a good officer, and might have done better at a regular unit where he had more confidence in the staff around him. Just... not the best CO we ever had IMHO.

Anyway, 15 PARA(SV) got Chris Keeble... and we had a couple of really good Regular officers as rather good COs. So I'd disagree slightly, and suggest that: "Regular officers who appear to be really good* do not get posted to command TA/AR units".

* Regulars haven't always had a great track record in selecting their actual best officers, as opposed to those who know how to Play The Game. Otherwise they wouldn't have selected those who defraud the MoD using CEA, write letters about sandwiches, or consistently be utter sh!ts to those around them. See Maj-Gen Jones, Maj-Gen Welch, etc, etc... Being a DS-watcher may be frowned on by your fellow students at RMAS, but it seems to be a successful career strategy thereafter.
 
That's perhaps overly harsh. He was a decent bloke, a good officer, and might have done better at a regular unit where he had more confidence in the staff around him. Just... not the best CO we ever had IMHO.

Anyway, 15 PARA(SV) got Chris Keeble... and we had a couple of really good Regular officers as rather good COs. So I'd disagree slightly, and suggest that: "Regular officers who appear to be really good* do not get posted to command TA/AR units".

* Regulars haven't always had a great track record in selecting their actual best officers, as opposed to those who know how to Play The Game. Otherwise they wouldn't have selected those who defraud the MoD using CEA, write letters about sandwiches, or consistently be utter sh!ts to those around them. See Maj-Gen Jones, Maj-Gen Welch, etc, etc... Being a DS-watcher may be frowned on by your fellow students at RMAS, but it seems to be a successful career strategy thereafter.
Well in my time in 10 Para from 1991 to 1999 we had four regular Parachute Regiment CO's. They all had slightly different styles but were were all first class as you would expect from the Parachute Regiment. Phil Neame, Robert Kereshaw, the third ones name I can't remember - East European -started with an M, ended in ovitz and last but not least Simon Barry.
 

QRK2

LE
The parents? Don't make me laugh, anyone who despatches their infant children off to live with strangers for 2/3 of the year does not really qualify for that title. But I do agree, arrogant parents, quite possibly arrogant kids.

Whilst I fundamentally agree with you. I did read a fair few years ago something that pointed out than an unusually large proportion of successful entrepreneurs' fathers had either left or died when they were young. There may be something about the absence of parental support that develops self reliance, very much on a sink or swim basis though. Look at a recently deceased senior Royal Naval Officer's childhood for a classic example.

However anyone who voluntarily imposes such on their children needs to take a good look at themselves.
 

The_Duke

LE
Moderator
Well in my time in 10 Para from 1991 to 1999 we had four regular Parachute Regiment CO's. They all had slightly different styles but were were all first class as you would expect from the Parachute Regiment. Phil Neame, Robert Kereshaw, the third ones name I can't remember - East European -started with an M, ended in ovitz and last but not least Simon Barry.
Tony Malkin
 
That's perhaps overly harsh. He was a decent bloke, a good officer, and might have done better at a regular unit where he had more confidence in the staff around him. Just... not the best CO we ever had IMHO.

Anyway, 15 PARA(SV) got Chris Keeble... and we had a couple of really good Regular officers as rather good COs. So I'd disagree slightly, and suggest that: "Regular officers who appear to be really good* do not get posted to command TA/AR units".

* Regulars haven't always had a great track record in selecting their actual best officers, as opposed to those who know how to Play The Game. Otherwise they wouldn't have selected those who defraud the MoD using CEA, write letters about sandwiches, or consistently be utter sh!ts to those around them. See Maj-Gen Jones, Maj-Gen Welch, etc, etc... Being a DS-watcher may be frowned on by your fellow students at RMAS, but it seems to be a successful career strategy thereafter.

An interesting proposition. Alternatively (and notwithstanding some very middle third blokes went to TA command in the past) it could be that regulars units are so much better supported in their RHQs, regt structures and wider experience to the point that they assume comd.

I recall one of my cohort, definitely a top of the top 1/3rd guy, hugely operationally experienced and very well respected in the wider Army going to a Reserve unit (as a result of a regular unit disbanding). No doubt he struggled and had a much tougher time than I did. Undermanning, bottom third staff, under resourcing, lack of interest from the 1/2* OPCOM HQs, ever changing focus and priorities etc. Most definitely a broken man last time I saw him, that was half way through command. Unsurprisingly he PVRd immediately after.

I can't talk for other capbadges, but in my own, it is only by the finest of margins how commands are decided. Bottom third knackers being put out to pasture to comd TA units is ancient history. All of the current cohort are WTE quality and have held a range a punchy appointment previously, and could equal comd reg units, with ease.
 
On leadership, I get the need for an elevated self-image and a presumption of virtue. It's important to train and educate an in-group into at least aspiring towards common values.

The reality is, I suspect, as @bobthebuilder suggests, that the led aren't that likely to be too concerned about the leader's moral integrity yadda yadda yadda, rather than they can trust him not to fuck them over unnecessarily, not to waste their lives and hard work and to achieve the aim. If they like him, that's a bonus, if they hate him, he probably won't be able to get things done.

The led often rather enjoy it if their leader's a bit of a wrong 'un, provided he doesn't break the single most important rule of British culture, military or civilian - 'don't take the piss'. It's impossible to define, but unmistakable when you see it.
I agree pretty much with that. But my point was mostly about strategic leadership or the lack of it.

For the most part, military leadership is about small team leadership. At every level from platoon up to divisional command, the leader leads a small team of direct reports. He or she doesn’t really set the organisational culture or strategic plan; he’s only there for a couple of years. The vision comes downwards in the form of intent.

Developing this sort of small team leadership is exactly what minor public schools are good at. They are not good at developing visionaries, thought leaders and potential strategic leaders.

This is not an Army only problem; manifests itself in many ways, the lack of strategic leadership at the top of the Army is but one. The fact that the UK has yet to produce a genuine tech unicorn is another. As are several major corporate failures and the destruction of some of Britain’s great major business. And many of the failings of the NHS and other public sector bodies.
 

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