Manning the equipment, equipping the man

Discussion in 'Staff College and Staff Officers' started by Mr_C_Hinecap, May 28, 2012.

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  1. The arguement that the 'RAF man the equipment and the Army equip the man' has been thrown around for some time now. Being RAF and with quite some time in the Joint world I have always been fairly happy with that as a basic statement.

    However, things seem to be changing. I'd suggest that, more and more, the Army is 'manning the equipment'. A couple of points to support my suggestion:

    - The RAF (and the RN) have always been capabilities based around technologically advanced weapons platforms. Weapons, sensors, comms etc all combined to provide capable and complex platforms that required manning and operating, not to mention serious maintenance.

    - Since TELIC we have seen some quantum leaps in Land warfare equipment and capabilities. Take Mastiff or any other similar vehicle. So much more than wheels, an engine and some armour. Sensors, displays, countermeasures, remote weapon mounts etc. It is now a complex weapons platform that needs to be manned.

    - The soldier. No longer just a bloke with a gat and a radio. Again, since TELIC, the soldier is part of a man-portable system that has capabilities beyond what required a vehicle 20 years ago. Would a commander want one more man with a finger on the trigger, or would they want the ECM he carries? It is so much more complex now, not just about literal firepower, but the ability to jam, transmit, receive and everything else all those man-worn systems are capable of.

    So, happy for it to be picked to bits, but I'd say the Army is edging far more towards manning the equipment now and in the future.
  2. Our manpower is still more 'developed' and 'equipped' than the creatures in the RAF though.
  3. A Soldier no longer just a bloke with a gat & a radio? Bloooody looooxury. We used to dream of 'avin't radio...
  4. I think you are a little behind the curve, with regards to the RAC at least. I'm thinking CR1 and 2 here.
    I agree entirely with the general thrust of your comments however.
  5. CR1 (commanders station) had more buttons and was way less ergonomic than a Tornado, only difference was speed over ground until you factored in the speed over ground of outgoing and incoming.

    The man equipment saga has been told and retold ever since we upped from bow and arrows (even then the English longbowman was the most technically and physically advanced tool in the box). The Napoleonic, British musket man, could load and fire far quicker than the French, the Horse Artillery were drilled in a way that could outpace charging cavalry, the infantry were drilled to be a machine that could form square quicker than charging cavalry.

    Perhaps the RAF in it's quest for technology is the one who has forgotten the man in the equation.
  6. So the RAF are basically cnuts?
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  7. Not at all some of them are really quite nice. What they forget is that the Navy and the original RAF built the capability around the man, and we used to win wars in those days, go the other way and you have a technically brilliant and capability sound range of equipment that is manned by technocrats not warriors.
  8. Unfortunately bokkatankie, with the way that our future warplanes and ships are going then its logical to have geeks in the hot seat. They may not be like Tom Cruise in Top Gun or Russell Crowe in Master and Commander, but I'd like a highly competent computer operator to nail the bad guy rather than a frustrated flashman character stabbing at buttons with a bayonet!
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  9. I would agree with the caveat that once we return to contingency and ar out of Afghanistan there won't be "any" equipment to man...
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  10. Bugger, that's my chance at re-enlistment banjaxed!
  11. Think this statement refers to the Army's belief in the individual soldier as the basic/smallest unit of fighting power and the cultural tendancy toward describing all other capabilities as supporting that man (the supporting vs supported). The only exception to this might be armour, which may be either supporting or supported, but even here (I would argue) that the man remains the basic unit of fighting power, once the "death before dismounting" culture has been beaten out.

    I remember hearing the service cultures being compared to sports teams. The RAF was described as being like a formula 1 team, where everyone worked to get the equipment and driver (pilot) into action and it was to him the "glory" went, I forget the analogy used for the Navy but the Army was described as being like a rugby team where each member had a part to play on the field and there was the "glory" was more evenly spread across the team.
  12. But look at the equipment now used by the Army. All powered, much of it networked, vehicles so much more than just armour and wheels - they are complex platforms that need manning and operating like tanks but less niche. Even FOBs are a system of systems and not just a big wall for the lads to sleep behind. Weapons and sensors are turning the FOB itelf into a complex platform that needs to be manned.
  13. True, but the simple fact remains... the RAF are cnuts. Hence they man the equipment, where as teh Army equip the man. You can see it in vivid detail when you compare RAF Pax to a Soldier. Cpl RAF is not equivalent to Cpl Army. And despite claims to the reverse, a Flt Sgt is way way down the ladder compared to a SSgt or even a WO2.

    Just staying in post the longest doesn't really count.
  14. I agree that the whole of the "military machine" is a system of systems. I think this statement (man the equipment vs equip the man) is largely designed and used to describe the different service cultures with respect to the different services. So, where as for the RAF (or the formula 1 racing team), it is that piece of key equipment (the aircraft) which is the vital asset which must be piloted and of course delivered into battle by the supporting cast (likewise for the RN with their ships), the army is all about delivering the man (correctly equipped) to the point on the battlefield where he then delivers the effect. Despite the Army's use of complex equipment, culturally we still think of the individual man (equipped accordingly) as delivering the decisive blow with his rifle and bayonet or perhaps more likely in today's operations delivering that decisive effect by interaction with other people in the battlespace.

    While it might seem strange to the other services that we describe the provision of a tank or other complex platform as equipping the man, this keeps us mindful of that culture that it is the soldier which is our most basic and most important fighting asset. In other words that the fight is still on even after the equipment has been lost or destroyed and all that remains is the individual man. Clearly for the other two services, this would not really work. A Navy without ships or an Air Force without aircraft would be somewhat pointless.

    This difference in service culture, which has developed over the years, with good reason, to support each service in its own role would be one of the significant barriers to amalgamating the three armed forces into one. It is an inability or more likely an unwillingness to address the issues of service culture that put paid to the Canadian attempt to combine its armed forces. Look at the USMC on the other hand and all branches (soldier, sailor and airman equivalent) share the same service culture. This is most similar to the Army culture, built around supporting the man at the sharp end.

    Clearly being in the army I would say this, but I believe if we were to go toward a single armed force structure, it would have to be an army like service culture that was adopted, akin to the USMC. I'm sure an RAF or RN officer might disagree as they might see the "tip of the spear" not as an individual rifleman but as a fighter aircraft or a submarine. Given that (to paraphrase) war is an extension of diplomacy, my argument in this case would be that warfare a military operations in general are about the population; destroying an enemy airforce, fleet or even land army is just an enabling activity; therefore it is the soldier who delivers the decisive blow (in old terminology) by interacting with the people (who live not in the air or in the sea but on land), i.e. conducting that basic diplomacy (sometimes at the end of a bayonet), which all other arms and services support. Just my thoughts...
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  15. You are a tedious little nothing. A boring underachieving comms numpty who has an opinion on everything and none of it worth a thing. I have tried to give you some sort of leeway, but you keep coming back and chucking your two pennerth in. Bore off you bore - you must have been bullied by the ATC when you were a kid because you have such a desire to run down the RAF. If you were vaguely capable at being a human being you could get away with it. You aren't, so you can't. Again - bore off.