Manpower at snapping point

Currently serving at a CR2 LAD and have really noticed a big change in the service we are being able to provide to our parent unit. I have been at a number of first line armoured postings and remember my first posting where we had 1 Tiff, 3 Sgt's, 3 Cpl's, 3 LCpls' and 3 Cfn (accross all trades) for 14 CR2's a plentiful supply of spares and real estate in which to work.

Now fast forward 15 years and I'm in a 5 man fitter section of which only 2 people have Challenger experience, a massive burden of extra work (JAMES etc) on computers which are forever freezing and a training programme which is 100 miles an hour. We have no fitter section vehicles to lift out packs on the tank park and our workshop is shared therefore acquiring vehicle bays is by no means an easy task which presents problems when many of our spares our now revived through the DRS programme (leaving tanks sat on the shopfloor taking up vital space).

The thing that shines through however is the overwhelming quality of tradesman that we are still getting through our system, the newer guys are faced with a far harder upbringing than I had but this is by no means something we should just take for granted. Why are we so UNDERMANNED at first line now? It makes very little sense to me to have large amounts of manpower at second line where (from what people tell me- ie friends in leadership roles there) there seems to be such a low workload in comparison. I understand that second line has an important function, that is beyond doubt, however I do think the balance of manpower has tipped far too much in that direction to the detriment of first line and where a large amount of our Corps reputation is generated.

I want to animate a real debate here, and not come over as a winer going on about the old days. I admit that we were spoilt in the past (all trades and perhaps generous manning) but I have seen and experienced the changes over the last decade and I really believe we are now at a critical point. Guys who I work with will continue to 'graft their balls out' to the best of their ability but it is feeling that our hands are tied now and we are fighting a losing battle, let's hope in time the balance tips back towards first line somewhat so that we can give the units we support what they expect.
Being out of trade for a few years now but over the last 10/15 years it was always the intent as far as i could see to get rid of 1st Line as it has done here and use 2nd line IST's to do the bulk of the work when required due to WFM. Ive always had my doubts as as you say the expertise of knowing your equipment/Regiment and personnel is why the REME have always mixed well. The idea that a Regiment/Unit prepares for an exercise then indents for a fitter section to me is ludacrous but the powers above have made these decisions.

As said this is my own views and maybe those serving in higher positions see it different but i do understand your frustrations that the young lads now a days dont get nurtured through there early years like they should do.
Wow, I have been fighting the same battle down here.

Trouble is, we have 1 Tank Regt and no 2nd line to speak of.

Same deal for tradesmen though - top blokes with a great attitude. Trouble is, they are getting fed up with the workload and not many want to come back for a second posting.
I totally agree with both your points. IST's are simply not working as envisaged are they? Whenever I have put in for them the lads from second line and need my guys to show them how to do the job, the trouble is the guys at Bn's are not getting enough trade experience and there bosses are using first line units to get their trade competencies up!! ergo what is the point in rebalancing to second line when we can have these guys learning vital trade skills at first line? I know it all comes down to cost but I genuinely believe we could give more manpower back to first line because many people at Bn's are telling me how they are sending work to DSG among others if there is 'no training value' in doing the task!!! trade value, wtf? I thought we were adding value by repairing the Army's equipment.
IST failed when they first came in, 2005(ish). It was too easy for Bn to say no, then the unit LAD wears the hurt and chases CRB for assistance.

Rebalancing was one of the major reasons I decided that leave at 20 years was a good idea.
Corps went to the dogs, (literally) when they started letting wimmin in. These life balance work juggling multitaskers have done a great dis-service save for the few that still know what their bodies are really for.

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