'New Model Army'? The case for direct entry at SO1 level...

Slightly off topic

During WW2, director John Ford created his own unofficial naval reserve unit of film makers, awarding himself the rank of commander. It was unpolitic to put him in his place when the US War Office eventually recognised the unit.
He did use his 'rank' to derail films by other Hollywood directors in uniform, especially Frank Capra, using his pull at the war office.

John Ford gave John Wayne a hard time for not serving. Wayne stated in his defence that he was 44 when the war started and too old to fight. Ford countered that he himself had been 50 when he went in with the second wave at Omaha Beach.
Always galled me that there’s a statue of Wayne at Fort Bragg. Why?

Contrast with a rather less ‘masculine’ actor such as Jimmy Stewart...
 
What do you do about those who have done well for themselves in Civvystrasse but have also chipped in as reservists before this Brave New World dawned? Tell them "sorry, pal, you should have stayed out and waited to be bought back in?"

For myself... I'm comfortable where I am as a reservist SO3 who, because I came back late, is nearing fifty: I get to do interesting stuff, I'm appreciated because I'm an SME in some niche areas, and I mostly break even on it and earn in the respect of my peers what I don't get in cash. I'd be a little bit put out, though, if random strangers were lured into roles above me (in technical knowledge anyway) that I wasn't allowed to apply for because "you're already in and that's above your pay grade because you don't have the seniority, and they don't need seniority because they're coming in from outside".

Maybe the role will have responsibilities I don't want, maybe it'll require experience I don't have... or maybe I'd be a good fit for what they're looking for but I already signed up because I'm a Properly Good Chap. Am I in or out of contention?
Maybe these positions could be advertised internally. For instance, if the PID of SO2 'Stuff' became vacant, then the position would be advertised internally thereby giving SO3 'Stuff' a crack at the position. Only if the PID cannot be filled internally would it then be open to outside applications. Of course, there will be umpteen good reasons found as to why this could never work within the Army [insert other equally backward-looking organisations here, if appropriate]! The main one being that it's Buggins' turn as he needs to be in that position of SO2 'Stuff' in order maintain his career trajectory; regardless of whether or not he actually knows anything about 'Stuff'. Still, at least he'll have a decent SO3 to actually do the 'Stuff'!

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Maybe these positions could be advertised internally. For instance, if the PID of SO2 'Stuff' became vacant, then the position would be advertised internally thereby giving SO3 'Stuff' a crack at the position. Only if the PID cannot be filled internally would it then be open to outside applications. Of course, there will be umpteen good reasons found as to why this could never work within the Army [insert other equally backward-looking organisations here, if appropriate]! The main one being that it's Buggins' turn as he needs to be in that position of SO2 'Stuff' in order maintain his career trajectory; regardless of whether or not he actually knows anything about 'Stuff'. Still, at least he'll have a decent SO3 to actually do the 'Stuff'!

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We will often push down a role a grade if the right candidate is of a lower rank. You can't promote on transfer, the promotion process still applies. However its good evidence for promotion but is it also easier if you only have 4 ranks? Thus meaning that each rank can have a very broad range of responsibilities. If that's a good thing, not sure. Alternatively it means you're not constrained by pay bands as much but it also means you can easily underpay for work.

edit: Added the thought on pros and cons
 
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We will often push down a role a grade if the right candidate is of a lower rank. You can't promote on transfer, the promotion process still applies. However its good evidence for promotion but is it also easier if you only have 4 ranks? Thus meaning that each rank can have a very broad range of responsibilities. Not sure.
Begs the question why the Army needs 17 ranks from bottom to top.
 

Caecilius

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Begs the question why the Army needs 17 ranks from bottom to top.
Which ones do you think we can get rid of?

Nicholas Drummond has just written a Wavell Room article about it, but despite arguing the case for a much flatter rank structure he eventually proposes a structure with only the WO2 and Lt Col ranks removed.
 
Which ones do you think we can get rid of?

Nicholas Drummond has just written a Wavell Room article about it, but despite arguing the case for a much flatter rank structure he eventually proposes a structure with only the WO2 and Lt Col ranks removed.
Bett report in the mid 90s recommended getting rid of the “duplicate” ranks. So chose one of each of LCpl/Cpl, Sgt/SSgt, WO2/1, 2Lt/Lt, Lt Col/Col and two General ranks out of what were then four. The only rank that went was FM....

We already have a system where appointment gives superiority over people of the same rank. The RSM is the senior warrant officer. The Adjutant is the senior subaltern, the 2ic the senior Major irrespective of seniority.

To reach RSM a soldier has to promote every three years. Similar for an officer post Major to reach the stars.

How much does that drive behaviours?
 
We will often push down a role a grade if the right candidate is of a lower rank. You can't promote on transfer, the promotion process still applies. However its good evidence for promotion but is it also easier if you only have 4 ranks? Thus meaning that each rank can have a very broad range of responsibilities. Not sure.
Fair point but from my personal experience this can also be a problem at SNCO/WO level too. I was a SSgt BOWMAN System Manager and had a non-sigs qualified WO2 parachuted in above me to fill the RSWOs PID, because they needed experience (not of the skill set but of that rank); basically a box-ticking exercise by MCM Div. In terms of operational effectiveness it wasn't great and I didn't find it a terribly positive experience either. I went onto an E2 posting after that but it was a factor in causing me to sign off rather than return to RD.
 

Caecilius

LE
Kit Reviewer
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Bett report in the mid 90s recommended getting rid of the “duplicate” ranks. So chose one of each of LCpl/Cpl, Sgt/SSgt, WO2/1, 2Lt/Lt, Lt Col/Col and two General ranks out of what were then four. The only rank that went was FM....

We already have a system where appointment gives superiority over people of the same rank. The RSM is the senior warrant officer. The Adjutant is the senior subaltern, the 2ic the senior Major irrespective of seniority.

To reach RSM a soldier has to promote every three years. Similar for an officer post Major to reach the stars.

How much does that drive behaviours?
LCpl and Cpl have very different jobs and responsibilities in an infantry unit. As do Sgts and SSgts. It would pose significant practical problems to get rid of those ranks, with no clear benefit to doing so given that the heriarchy would still exist.

When we don't need the ranks the army is actually pretty good at not really using them. For several units there is little difference between a trooper and a corporal. For the cavalry, a LCpl is generally just treated as a trooper wearing a stripe.

2Lt could probably go but that's really just a brief period where your rank slide announces that you're a turbo-crow and need to be handled carefully at all times by the nearest SNCO. People can also promote very fast indeed once they get past Lt Col. There are brigadiers and generals out there who spent less than a year as a full colonel.

Would reduing the number of general officer ranks change behaviour? I doubt it. The fight for the best jobs would still persist even if everyone notionally held the same rank. I struggle to see the benefit of reducing ranks despite an obvious cost in terms of awkward cultural change.
 
LCpl and Cpl have very different jobs and responsibilities in an infantry unit. As do Sgts and SSgts.
But do they really have responsibilities that are so different that they require a different rank? I’ve never been convinced since reading the Bett report twenty plus years ago. I’m buggered if I can work out why you need three layers of staff officer. I’m also not convinced that a horizontal fracture between officers and NCOs is that clever either.

Having worked in flat organisations I’m even less convinced.
 
....and, because I've not flogged this horse enough, we're back to culture.

Bett report in the mid 90s recommended getting rid of the “duplicate” ranks. So chose one of each of LCpl/Cpl, Sgt/SSgt, WO2/1, 2Lt/Lt, Lt Col/Col and two General ranks out of what were then four. The only rank that went was FM....

We already have a system where appointment gives superiority over people of the same rank. The RSM is the senior warrant officer. The Adjutant is the senior subaltern, the 2ic the senior Major irrespective of seniority.

To reach RSM a soldier has to promote every three years. Similar for an officer post Major to reach the stars.

How much does that drive behaviours?
But the appointments deal with superiority of people over others with the same rank when they're already at the top of their relative tree. The RSM is a WO1 are they not (I am not in the military)? How many other examples of appointments are there which really prove this rule in a more general context.

I'll give a concrete example, if we have 4 ranks and we number them on a scale, 1 NCO rank (all grades), 2 Junior Officers upto about Captain, 3, Major upto about Colonel, 4, Brigadier onwards. In fact thinking about that's pretty good parity based on what I know broad brush strokes. The only exception is probably that level 1's will trend towards becoming level 2's or leave but back to a good comparison, most 2's will not become 3's.

I'd imagine that the 'need' to become a junior officer as a top ranking level 1 isn't there but here will be a limit to what level 1's get to own.

So 1's can report to 1's who report to 1's, what cannot happen is a 2 reporting to a 1, however we get around this by creating a Matrix team. They're both a useful and horribly abused concept but in the good sense it's how you get Level 3s to get directed by Level 2s in a culturally acceptable way. We also know that happens, you don't tend to get 3's getting arsey about Level 2's running jobs, mostly.

Appointments don't sound like they enable the same thing to happen though, do they?
 
I should add, there is question that arises off the back of this but I'll preempt it. What are the circumstances where you need to use this construct? Note, I'm not getting that more 'junior' people are leading more 'senior' people, that's clearly something that the military has dealt with in various arcs.

No, the more interesting is what happens to Level 2s and 3s through their careers. At some point, 2s and 3s got promoted (if they didn't join the organisation at that level) but peoples career paths can take them towards and away from leading teams of people or having big ticket delivery responsibility . Personally I've run some bigish teams on strategic projects but my new role sees me become an individual contributor again. Not because I want to get away from running teams (I quite enjoy it) but that's what the role requires.

What this does is accepts that individual contributors and team leaders are both required and their ranks need to not be stifled because of this. Doesnt always work, Alpha Bod runs a team of twenty people and is competitively ranked against quiet and dependable deep SME Bod. Both important to the organisation, deep SME bod usually critical when the wheel comes off and we're dealing with an outage.
 
I should add, there is question that arises off the back of this but I'll preempt it. What are the circumstances where you need to use this construct? Note, I'm not getting that more 'junior' people are leading more 'senior' people, that's clearly something that the military has dealt with in various arcs.

No, the more interesting is what happens to Level 2s and 3s through their careers. At some point, 2s and 3s got promoted (if they didn't join the organisation at that level) but peoples career paths can take them towards and away from leading teams of people or having big ticket delivery responsibility . Personally I've run some bigish teams on strategic projects but my new role sees me become an individual contributor again. Not because I want to get away from running teams (I quite enjoy it) but that's what the role requires.

What this does is accepts that individual contributors and team leaders are both required and their ranks need to not be stifled because of this. Doesnt always work, Alpha Bod runs a team of twenty people and is competitively ranked against quiet and dependable deep SME Bod. Both important to the organisation, deep SME bod usually critical when the wheel comes off and we're dealing with an outage.
We do that to a certain degree within the software and firmware engineering areas where I work. Taking software as an example: we have graduate, senior and principle engineers; graduate reports to senior, senior reports to principle and the principle to the software team lead. Once someone reaches the level of principle engineer they can aspire to be either a software team lead if they wish to manage people or a consultant if they wish to become an SME without the managerial responsibilities.
 
Always galled me that there’s a statue of Wayne at Fort Bragg. Why?

Contrast with a rather less ‘masculine’ actor such as Jimmy Stewart...
The USMC was a far tougher audience than the airborne, they booed The Duke even when he was making them look good on screen :D
Jimmy Stewart was a hell of a guy. He did not opt for an easy war.

I could not stand Frank Sinatra. Arranged a 4F but played countless screen war heroes.
 
The USMC was a far tougher audience than the airborne, they booed The Duke even when he was making them look good on screen :D
Jimmy Stewart was a hell of a guy. He did not opt for an easy war.

I could not stand Frank Sinatra. Arranged a 4F but played countless screen war heroes.
Jimmy Stewart was a man to the end. His wife had died and he was due a new battery in his heart monitor. He refused it, saying that he wasn't interested in a life after her. But that I had half the guts.
 
We do that to a certain degree within the software and firmware engineering areas where I work. Taking software as an example: we have graduate, senior and principle engineers; graduate reports to senior, senior reports to principle and the principle to the software team lead. Once someone reaches the level of principle engineer they can aspire to be either a software team lead if they wish to manage people or a consultant if they wish to become an SME without the managerial responsibilities.
Same, software.
 
But do they really have responsibilities that are so different that they require a different rank? I’ve never been convinced since reading the Bett report twenty plus years ago. I’m buggered if I can work out why you need three layers of staff officer. I’m also not convinced that a horizontal fracture between officers and NCOs is that clever either.

Having worked in flat organisations I’m even less convinced.
We used to have 1* and 2* corporals back in the 60s I think, since we just have corporals, the 2IC in a section obviously being the junior appointment.

With regard to SOs.... IMHO you don’t need them. They make work for themselves
 
I suppose part of the reason for so many ranks is pay.

The public sector have layers of “rank” (not as many in most cases) and I assume that like here as you go up the chain (either in terms of rank or experience in current rank) your pay increases.

Unlike the private sector, they can’t say to Capt x your getting a £1000 pay rise this year as due to your success on that project.
 
....and, because I've not flogged this horse enough, we're back to culture.
Of course it’s cultural. Much of the Army’s leadership culture relies on the positional power of rank. From top to bottom behaviours are driven by the need to impress one’s first RO because that is what gets you promoted.

The cult of generalism invariably trumps knowledge and expertise. Introverts rarely do well, so the senior ranks lack people with true analytical skills. Doctrine becomes process and a crutch rather than a tool. Innovation gets killed because the organisation culturally defaults to tradition.

Often it’s hidden from scrutiny because the organisation can hide behind the uniqueness of what it does. Thus it has largely gotten away with a multitude of horrors in Afghan and Iraq.

You see it most clearly where the organisation screws up big programs. Recruiting, FRES, the heavy capability and so many more.
 
I suppose part of the reason for so many ranks is pay.

The public sector have layers of “rank” (not as many in most cases) and I assume that like here as you go up the chain (either in terms of rank or experience in current rank) your pay increases.

Unlike the private sector, they can’t say to Capt x your getting a £1000 pay rise this year as due to your success on that project.
Well, in the US we have a pay scale based on several different factors, but the two base ones are "Rank" and "Years of Service". So if I look up my pay chart, I'm "O-4"/"Over 16 years", and things go from there. We have additional modifiers, a big one, for example, being the company OEs, such as an O-1E which is a 2LT who had at least prior 4 years enlisted service. The difference in pay is notable, a brand, newly commissioned O-1 starts at $3,035/month (plus modifiers), a brand, newly commissioned O-1E, with the exact same rank, responsibilities, and career path ahead of him, but who was, say, a platoon sergeant before commissioning (with 14 years in) will be paid at $4,741/month (Plus modifiers).

So assuming that you gain experience and worth over time, we do pay increases separate to rank change.
 

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