Jobs not ranks....just thinking

Discussion in 'The NAAFI Bar' started by gobbyidiot, Aug 9, 2008.

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  1. Are there any downsides to having a rank structure? Does it force people to think about themselves and their own importance rather than the task at hand? Does it appeal to, and encourage, the wrong kinds of sentiments in people "I could be a WO1" rather than "I could do that job".

    I was talking to an Iranian bloke (he'd call himself Persian!), his mother's Zoroastrian, he said something interesting, "I try not to think about myself too much. It isn't good for you. Look outwards, look at others, think about your actions".

    Now obviously in a lot of circumstances you need to know who the company commander is - there would need to be (probably) some public display of role.

    But it might be a useful revolution in attitude if roles, rather than ranks, was the organisational emphasis. Not "I am", "But I must", not "I'm entitled", but "I'm obliged".

  2. You're behind the times. The TA's been doing this for years.
  3. Yeah, but I'm not talking about retaining and de-emphasising. I'm talking about getting rid.

    What would be the downside to knowing that "Mr Smith" was the platoon commander - and that's it.
  4. Within your own close-knit unit, you could lose the ranks and it wouldn't make a ha'porth of difference. But when you have to liaise with other groups, it becomes important in order to identify the chain of command.

    In my own instance, most of the time I feel that my rank is useful only to prevent the JRs from being shat upon by people who, through no fault of their own, don't know any better.
  5. So instead of calling a platoon commander Lt or captain he is called a 'smith'. Not one iota of difference. He would still be doing the same job, still be treated as commensurate with the job and rank, if subordinate then you would still obey and salute him etc., May as well leave the names used traditionally as they are.
    Change for change sake.... you sound like a politician to me.

    edited for typo and failing eyesight.....
  6. This isn't a revolution, either. It's part of what is already known as duty. And, for convenience, each rank has a different level of duty.
  7. Gobbs,Have you ever read Animal Farm?
  8. and the RAF.
  9. Yeah, it probably bubbles through my mind...

    I was just curious what people thought a rank system subtly did to the people within it, what effect it has on recruitment and retention, to what extent it preserves the officer/or distinction....

    Human beings do not willingly submit themselves to being low in a pecking order, and indeed it is being subject to arbitrary whim from those above you that gives you a heart attack. The army is one big pecking order. The army can't retain junior ranks/recruits. It doesn't take the brains of an archbishop to think there might be an issue.

    I mean, to what extent does a rank system attract and retain exactly the people you don't want to exercise authority? It's the old joke about police armed response officers - you pick them by asking for volunteers, instantly disqualifying anyone who does volunteer, and then pick from the rest.

    The only good reasons for wanting to be in a position of authority are i) to achieve the goal and ii) to avoid having an arsehole occupy the position. I wonder if those are the motivations of everyone who sees a rank structure and thinks, "Wow!"

    The great liberal JS MIll said that the most important thing about arrangments is what they symbolise - jury trial isn't about determining guilt, judges could do that better. It's about symbolising that the law is the people's law, and that the state can't inflict serious punishment without the say-so of the citizenry. I just wonder what an in-your-face rank system does, what it constantly and subtly suggests

    - "I'm not as good as my next action, and I don't need to be. I've got a great big feckin label. Play your cards right and you could have one too".

    It's like having a trained solider as a dro or cleaning an officer's kit. The time isn't the issue, the symbolism is just poison.
  10. RP578

    RP578 LE Book Reviewer

    I think both the Russians and the Chinese removed formal ranks in their armed forces after their respective revolutions, only to restore them. I think it was a case of operational effectiveness overriding ideological purity.
  11. Rank gives you something to aspire to. That, in itself, should be a retention incentive, but would possibly be more effective if JNCO rank were to be awarded purely on the basis of ability, rather than vacancy. This could have some major repercussions on the Defence Budget with a substantial increase in the number of JNCOs floating around.

    Non-commissioned ranks are divided into two messes. Traditionally, this segregation has provided a further level of aspiration, one that is generally dependent on lengthy service or at least a tacit promise thereof. To a large extemt, in my opinion, the value of entering the SNCOs' Mess has been eroded by the introduction of PAYD. No longer is there a difference in the food on offer or the method in which it is presented. Little things, unimportant in terms of function, but an indication of status nontheless. What else does the SNCOs' Mess have to offer? Functions and furniture? A well-organised Cpls' Club can provide the same, if not better.

    To my mind, the SNCOs' Mess has been dumbed down to the point where it ceases to be an incentive for aspiration. This leaves only two incentives for the soldier to aspire to higher rank, power and income. In this PC-led society, power has become a double-edged sword - people may have the authority, but have to be very, very careful about exercising it because motives could well become subject to scrutiny and those motives could well be misinterpreted. While income will play a major part in striving for promotion, I doubt that many people will publicly admit it - it doesn't really fit in with the idea of selfless commitment. Does the newly-promoted Sgt look at his first pay statement and say "YES!!!" or "Oh, that's nice."?

    So much for aspiration. But there are also people who feel comfortable doing what they do, have enough money for their needs and don't want to take on the extra responsibilities that go with promotion. If they do their job well and they're happy, why pressure them to advance themselves? And why put them the first on the list for culling when the next Defence Review comes around? Sadly, the Army does perceive lack of ambition as a failing, yet some people can be at the top of their Maslow's Triangle without being at the top of the ladder.
  12. There was an old cop in Glasgow who was retiring, popular and effective, and a senior cop was talking about him. "He could have gone for promotion and I asked him why he didn't. Wasn't he ambitious? He replied that he was extremely ambitious. He asked him how this could be the case. He replied, "I'm extremely ambitious to be the best cop I can be".

    I'm not certain that rational self-interest is a useful quality in a cop or a soldier, and I sometimes wonder whether rank systems promote personal advancement in exactly those social functions where it can least be tolerated.

    Mind you, long-standing institutions usually have more going for them than you'd think, so change would probably produce a massive clusterf**k :)
  13. The other half's dad was the exact same. He's been a copper for nearly 40 years, seen action in Liverpool Riots, Miner's Strikes and a load of other pretty big stuff that got alot of his colleagues high level promotion. Yet after nearly 40 years in the service, he retired a PC. I asked him once about it and he said "I could have gone for promotion, I got offered it countless times, but I never took it because I wouldn't be doing the same things"

    I've seen this before as well. I know NCO's working as tech's on aircraft who have been told they should go for their commission. The trouble is, the majority of them anjoy doing what they do, thats why they do it.

    Maybe the rank system isn't as good as it should be, and I know for a fact that some jobsworths and b*astards can abuse it, but to try to change it would be too complicated, and I don't think it would work.
  14. As has been mentioned the communists did away with any rank structure for a while, but if it is stupid and it works it ain't stupid.

    Also the Republican side in the Spanish civil war got to the stage of discussing, and voting on command decisions, and look what happened to them.

    On the whole the reason for a rank structure is because it works, to misquote Churchill

    " A rank structured army is the worst possible system for the military, except all the others"
  15. Good quote, the system we use is crap, but it's the best of a bad bunch.