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

Glad_its_all_over

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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.
I would most distinctly not disagree with that and was actually formulating a response which acknowledged your point.

It's very difficult, of course - the individual who can define a desirable and achievable end state which the organisation can move towards and inspire the membership - or the informal, as well as formal leadership of that membership - to do what's necessary to achieve it - is rare and, when one emerges, is usually muffled and stifled by the usual corporate bollocks.

I have one specific example in mind of when it worked, a highly energetic and absolutely brutal individual who was brought in by the Board to scrub down my (then) company with the stiffest of wire brushes to get it in shape to survive. His message was uncompromising and existential and permeated the entire company, with a number of senior leaders who did not get with the programme most ricky tick suddenly finding themselves looking for exciting new opportunities elsewhere. He stayed for the four years it took to complete the process, was feared and disliked, but recognised as having a proper strategy and folk got behind it.

Other attempt seen in other companies to implement strategy at all, never mind strategic change, were essentially exercises in corporate bollocks and business buzzword bingo and were largely disregarded.

As you say, the curse of the times is short-termism - and I'd add another, the utter lack of loyalty and solidarity downwards, which leads to the same upwards. From what I've seen, this is something the Army should beware of; my sense is that many soldiers, NCOs, warrant officers and sub-senior officers do not have the sense that all their elders, betters and seniors feel any particular interest in, or obligation towards, them.

I've often noted around here how surprising it is that some individuals opt for careers as Army officers when they don't actually like soldiers, their company or their humour all that much.
 
I would most distinctly not disagree with that and was actually formulating a response which acknowledged your point.

It's very difficult, of course - the individual who can define a desirable and achievable end state which the organisation can move towards and inspire the membership - or the informal, as well as formal leadership of that membership - to do what's necessary to achieve it - is rare and, when one emerges, is usually muffled and stifled by the usual corporate bollocks.

I have one specific example in mind of when it worked, a highly energetic and absolutely brutal individual who was brought in by the Board to scrub down my (then) company with the stiffest of wire brushes to get it in shape to survive. His message was uncompromising and existential and permeated the entire company, with a number of senior leaders who did not get with the programme most ricky tick suddenly finding themselves looking for exciting new opportunities elsewhere. He stayed for the four years it took to complete the process, was feared and disliked, but recognised as having a proper strategy and folk got behind it.

Other attempt seen in other companies to implement strategy at all, never mind strategic change, were essentially exercises in corporate bollocks and business buzzword bingo and were largely disregarded.

As you say, the curse of the times is short-termism - and I'd add another, the utter lack of loyalty and solidarity downwards, which leads to the same upwards. From what I've seen, this is something the Army should beware of; my sense is that many soldiers, NCOs, warrant officers and sub-senior officers do not have the sense that all their elders, betters and seniors feel any particular interest in, or obligation towards, them.

I've often noted around here how surprising it is that some individuals opt for careers as Army officers when they don't actually like soldiers, their company or their humour all that much.
Just watched 'Tunes of Glory' with John Mills and Alec Guiness and was thinking of your post. While Colonel Barrow was a bit toxic I thought Jock Sinclair behaved appallingly. Relevant to this thread though that they persuaded Barrow to keep the assault on the piper in house for the good of the battalion. The positions of the different battalion officers in respect of Sinclair and Barrow.

Loved the Pipe Major though and his accent, especially his spates with the RSM an ex Guardsman.

Perhaps they could use it as a management training tool. It must be better than most of the crap you have to watch.
 
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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.
S Barry, top bloke.

My own personal South Africa tour guide!
 
I've often noted around here how surprising it is that some individuals opt for careers as Army officers when they don't actually like soldiers, their company or their humour all that much.

This in spades in almost every post i have ever been in, soldiers, their careers and their welfare are something that gets in the way of their day job.

Their day job mainly being about their social life at a junior level, until they find a suitable green fleet wife have a couple of James' and Jamimas' and get on with the serious business of their own self promotion.

Soldiers are, in the main, an embuggerance to be tolerated :)
 
This in spades in almost every post i have ever been in, soldiers, their careers and their welfare are something that gets in the way of their day job.

Their day job mainly being about their social life at a junior level, until they find a suitable green fleet wife have a couple of James' and Jamimas' and get on with the serious business of their own self promotion.

Soldiers are, in the main, an embuggerance to be tolerated :)

PS: for the above you could quite easily delete officer and insert Warrant Officer in disappointingly large number of cases. The only difference being, most go wife early and socialising (mainly with junior female officers) later :)
 

Auld-Yin

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I would most distinctly not disagree with that and was actually formulating a response which acknowledged your point.

It's very difficult, of course - the individual who can define a desirable and achievable end state which the organisation can move towards and inspire the membership - or the informal, as well as formal leadership of that membership - to do what's necessary to achieve it - is rare and, when one emerges, is usually muffled and stifled by the usual corporate bollocks.

I have one specific example in mind of when it worked, a highly energetic and absolutely brutal individual who was brought in by the Board to scrub down my (then) company with the stiffest of wire brushes to get it in shape to survive. His message was uncompromising and existential and permeated the entire company, with a number of senior leaders who did not get with the programme most ricky tick suddenly finding themselves looking for exciting new opportunities elsewhere. He stayed for the four years it took to complete the process, was feared and disliked, but recognised as having a proper strategy and folk got behind it.

Other attempt seen in other companies to implement strategy at all, never mind strategic change, were essentially exercises in corporate bollocks and business buzzword bingo and were largely disregarded.

As you say, the curse of the times is short-termism - and I'd add another, the utter lack of loyalty and solidarity downwards, which leads to the same upwards. From what I've seen, this is something the Army should beware of; my sense is that many soldiers, NCOs, warrant officers and sub-senior officers do not have the sense that all their elders, betters and seniors feel any particular interest in, or obligation towards, them.

I've often noted around here how surprising it is that some individuals opt for careers as Army officers when they don't actually like soldiers, their company or their humour all that much.
Oh boy, is your last sentence soooooo true!
 

Auld-Yin

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Just watched 'Tunes of Glory' with John Mills and Alec Guiness and was thinking of your post. While Colonel Barrow was a bit toxic I thought Jock Sinclair behaved appallingly. Relevant to this thread though that they persuaded Barrow to keep the assault on the piper in house for the good of the battalion. The positions of the different battalion officers in respect of Sinclair and Barrow.

Loved the Pipe Major though and his accent, especially his spates with the RSM an ex Guardsman.

Perhaps they could use it as a management training tool. It must be better than most of the crap you have to watch.
The whole film is about Sinclair and his refusal to actually hand over command to Barrow. Sinclair, of course, should have been moved out of the Bn by their Brigadier. But the film was also a class-war story with the working clas, LE officer Sinclair, against the middle class DE Barrow. The 2IC was a shit as well just sitting back and allowing the Mess to split.

Great film, and one of its generation.
 
The whole film is about Sinclair and his refusal to actually hand over command to Barrow.
Then perhaps the true demonstration of the professionalism of the regular Parachute Regiment battalions, is that after winning Goose Green as the Commanding Officer, Chris Keeble went back to being a good 2ic - and that there were no duty rumours about "Tunes of Glory" in 2 PARA.

It's in no way comparable, but I handed over sub-unit command, and promptly made myself scarce from the TAC for several years - hoping to let my successor do the job on his terms, in his way, having given him the most thorough handover I could manage.
 

Auld-Yin

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Then perhaps the true demonstration of the professionalism of the regular Parachute Regiment battalions, is that after winning Goose Green as the Commanding Officer, Chris Keeble went back to being a good 2ic - and that there were no duty rumours about "Tunes of Glory" in 2 PARA.

It's in no way comparable, but I handed over sub-unit command, and promptly made myself scarce from the TAC for several years - hoping to let my successor do the job on his terms, in his way, having given him the most thorough handover I could manage.
I think the Chris Keeble affair demonstrates the difference between the peacetime army and the war fighting army. CK had been passed over until Goose Green when he stepped up to the mark and proved his worth. Not good enough for the peacetime army who flew/dropped in the 'real' successor to Jones.
 
I've often noted around here how surprising it is that some individuals opt for careers as Army officers when they don't actually like soldiers, their company or their humour all that much.
Indeed I was once told by a Col (who made Brig) that he actively avoided soldiers as all they would do was cause trouble. He recommended I do the same. I didn't. I enjoyed working with them.
 
I have one specific example in mind of when it worked, a highly energetic and absolutely brutal individual who was brought in by the Board to scrub down my (then) company with the stiffest of wire brushes to get it in shape to survive. His message was uncompromising and existential and permeated the entire company, with a number of senior leaders who did not get with the programme most ricky tick suddenly finding themselves looking for exciting new opportunities elsewhere. He stayed for the four years it took to complete the process, was feared and disliked, but recognised as having a proper strategy and folk got behind it.

Other attempt seen in other companies to implement strategy at all, never mind strategic change, were essentially exercises in corporate bollocks and business buzzword bingo and were largely disregarded.

Back when I was building radars, we went through five Managing Directors in four years. Each one arrived hoping to improve things, the first four failed gently (we'd won a £300 million development contract to build the Typhoon radar, had corporate HQ breathing down our necks, and the project was slipping because various levels of management kept trying to control project costs by, well, controlling costs - "the answer to any problem is more reports upwards, and more signatures before sign-off! No, you can't have a new engineer to fill that gap; cancel the pay rises!").

The new bloke arrived from Raytheon, and had been (according to rumour) their highest-paid actual engineer; he was firm without being a brutal arse, rather determined, and put the hours in to make his attempt at quality improvement a success*. He communicated to the whole company by insisting that everyone in the firm did a training course; and coming along to every single course in person to talk to those present, and to explain why it was important. He stayed, and things improved; appointed some sensible project managers ("the answer to the problem is to meet the delivery date, it doesn't matter what the paperwork says you spent") and the project promptly settled back on track, and met every delivery date thereafter (for the next twenty years - not a bad piece of planning).

I made the foolish error of putting my hand up in a meeting with him, and got pinged to put my thoughts on paper; I think I stayed on late on a Friday to finish it, went across the road to his office, and found myself delivering it in person instead of dropping it in an in-tray... No-one else there, just him (always good to see a lack of "hanging around to impress the boss" in his immediate staff).

Reassuringly, he eventually went onwards and upwards.

* AIUI from several such courses, there's only a 20% success rate in industry for "Quality Improvement Initiatives" - most of them fail through a lack of management commitment, i.e. what happens the first time there's a choice between "we can do this properly but late, or we can shove a half-arsed job out the door on time".
 
"we can do this properly but late, or we can shove a half-arsed job out the door on time".

Sounds like it should be the motto of the British Army.
 
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.

So... was he a victim of his own high standards? Unwilling to surf the chaos, nor accept that he couldn't succeed, unable to avoid "only adding a bit more effort here and there", unsupported by a toxic (regular) Brigade Commander and 1RO who "doesn't want problems, just solutions!"? Couldn't or wouldn't declare UDI and just focus on Adair's "Team" and "Individual" as a short-term goal, punt the "Task" into the medium term; screw them if they can't take a joke, they started it?

Sounds like a hellish situation to be in. I'd say "Kobayashi Maru", but then wonder whether people nod or just write me off as a hopeless nerd...

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.

Which is very reassuring to hear... I don't think we ever saw the bottom-third Lt. Cols; more like the "middle/top third with career fouls or interesting character flaws*"... ;)

* In one case, "top third, too thoughtful, too truthful" - tied for "best CO we had", eventually left after an early TELIC where he was honest to a journalist, and it made the papers. Has since had a successful career, no surprise there...
 
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Indeed I was once told by a Col (who made Brig) that he actively avoided soldiers as all they would do was cause trouble. He recommended I do the same. I didn't. I enjoyed working with them.
It only dawned on me in my final posting that the one aspect I enjoyed over all others was anything to do with junior soldiers, disciplining them, rewarding them, deploying with them, helping fix their problems, trying to shield them from mis-employment and so on. At the same time I realised that that pleasure would in no way exist in Civilian Str.
 
It only dawned on me in my final posting that the one aspect I enjoyed over all others was anything to do with junior soldiers, disciplining them, rewarding them, deploying with them, helping fix their problems, trying to shield them from mis-employment and so on. At the same time I realised that that pleasure would in no way exist in Civilian Str.
I’m genuinely dreading leaving sea and having to go shoreside and never properly interacting with sailors again.
 
I realised that that pleasure would in no way exist in Civilian Str.
I'm 20 years older than the next oldest member of my team. I'm gaining a lot of enjoyment through mentoring the youngest team members. Very similar to the Army.
 

Bubbles_Barker

LE
Book Reviewer
This in spades in almost every post i have ever been in, soldiers, their careers and their welfare are something that gets in the way of their day job.

Their day job mainly being about their social life at a junior level, until they find a suitable green fleet wife have a couple of James' and Jamimas' and get on with the serious business of their own self promotion.

Soldiers are, in the main, an embuggerance to be tolerated :)
I must have served (in the main) in a different Army to you ;-) I remember that being a subaltern was a 24/7 activity - where you had to know the troops like the back of your hand and look after them - from placating the bank manager to helping out with transport for shopping to managing the fallout from divorce and separation to laying on activities at weekends to keep them honest.

Officers don't get enough time at RD as subalterns to learn to do all that - which is a tragedy as it is more important than all the technical and promotion courses, tactics etc put together.

I think back on myself as a 19 year old subbie 40 years ago with sense of bewilderment - if I wasn't looking after the blokes then what would I have been doing? That's not to say you couldn't fit in a cracking social life but when you add in living in a foreign country with a real threat just over the border then it made you value you your soldiers all the more.

Other less misty-eyed opinions are of course available.
 

Bubbles_Barker

LE
Book Reviewer
Perhaps they could use it as a management training tool. It must be better than most of the crap you have to watch.
Tunes of Glory is my favourite military film by far. As far as management films go, we had 12 O'Clock High at Sandhurst way back in 1979 - now that is a leadership classic.
 
I'm 20 years older than the next oldest member of my team. I'm gaining a lot of enjoyment through mentoring the youngest team members. Very similar to the Army.

Likewise (strictly, we're a tiny team of over-50 geezers in a niche technical role, among an office-full of cool young "full-stack" twentysomething software engineers). I may be a boring old fart, but I enjoy being a helpful boring old fart.
 
Tunes of Glory is my favourite military film by far. As far as management films go, we had 12 O'Clock High at Sandhurst way back in 1979 - now that is a leadership classic.

I'm the First Lieutenant, and don't you forget it.
 

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