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

Caecilius

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
and if you're asking for parity with your old peer group or with a group five years behind them. Subject to what you were actually doing during your hiatus.
For me, a modified version of this idea from @alfred_the_great is the answer to the direct entry SO1 problem. I disagree that the armed forces should accept people back into service after a five year, pension-paying career break without any further thought. In essence the armed forces take all the risk in this situation and the majority of returners will be those who failed in the civilian world.

I think the answer is to use the idea of extended career breaks as a way of solving the issues about making someone an OF5 without any military experience at all. Let people leave on a pension and say that they're welcome to return within a certain timespan (5 years or maybe 10) provided they have experience that's useful to the armed forces. They should then be able to return at an appropriate rank depending on their experience, potentially an even higher than their original peers. If they haven't done anything useful in the civilian world then we don't take them back.

Our target audiences here are people like @alfred_the_great who need a break and might want to return, and people like @bobthebuilder who appear to have done enough to keep themselves happy in civvy street and want to offer something to HM.

The problems are twofold:

1. You'll have a hell of a time defining SQEP.

2. Allowing people the freedom when they return so that they aren't bound by process and moved jobs every two years will probably require a simultaneous overhaul of our career model as well as stripping back a lot of process, some of which is legally mandated.
 
I've suggested before that, subject to suitability, moves between full time and part time service should be possible. A no-time service should also be possible.
 
What's the NEM detail?

E2A: New Employment Model

Nothing massively ground shaking, mostly tidying up historic issues.
The Reserves pieces are a big spin on very moderate legislative tweaks
 
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In which case do they need to be soldiers? Could they not just be employed as MSF posts in the CS? (ignoring that the MSF package is even less attractive)
The Value of the Specialist - The Wavell Room

Bringing specialists back as contractors should also be considered.
Employing someone on a CS contract is not going to be competing with other salaries out in industry; and much like FTRS, one ends up with a higher percentage of the terminally institutionalised and less capable applying for what should be something pretty important
 
Our target audiences here are people like @alfred_the_great who need a break and might want to return, and people like @bobthebuilder who appear to have done enough to keep themselves happy in civvy street and want to offer something ack.
I might have been that man 4-5 years after leaving, when I was actively looking for the next strategic career move. The offer would have to have been right; right rank, responsibility and pay. I had achieved and developed a great deal in those years and was actively discussing Board level roles, so coming back in at the same rank with seniority behind my former service peers would have been a non-starter. I know quite a few contemporaries felt the same way; we’d consolidated successful service career with high level commercial and program management experience making ourselves strong candidates to head complex defence projects.

In the event, I chose a different path and left big business and programs after six years, for much the same reasons as @alfred_the_great craves a break from service. It was darned hard work, very long hours, high pressure too many nights away from a young familly etc etc. The grass isn’t greener; running big, complex high value things takes over your life whether you do it in uniform or not.

So now I’m scratching the entrepreneurial urge, building a fast growing and innovative business whilst keeping life real. Which led me back towards service. A couple of years ago, I went through the selection process to join the ADF Reserve and was offered a role a rank higher than I left the British Army. The attraction was entirely monetary; I was looking for a source of income that gave me space to build my business.

Which brings me to your last two points;
SQEP is only an issue because h Army is making it one. Indeed the adoption of the acronym raises issues since it closes opportunities in what are for the most part general management roles. Not just a service problem; many businesses are far too specific with SQEP.

On issue of freedom to operate is perhaps they will create it by questioning process. Anyone who has worked successfully in high performing executive teams is unlikely to sit back without challenging the status quo.

The biggest challenge with lateral recruiting at senior rank is developing the recruiting skills and organisation to do it. Senior officers have no experience of interview for selection or building an executive team and the recruiting organisation is designed to recruit soldiers and officer candidates. The ADF had this same issue, not least by applying the same medical standards to a senior hire as they do to an 18 year old recruit.
 
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SQEP will be used as an excuse to satisfy the very Forces (and possibly UK) desire to bring everyone down to a level of mediocrity. We are highly attuned to anyone who might be getting a slightly better deal than us, and more than happy to place every barrier in the way of them. God forbid someone should do a “nice thing” and then get to come back whilst others have to be down the salt mines to get to the same place....

Thus, instead of getting me back after I’ve recuperated, the MoD is going to pay me quite a large amount of money every year, and watch that “SQEP” sail over the horizon...
 
SQEP will be used as an excuse to satisfy the very Forces (and possibly UK) desire to bring everyone down to a level of mediocrity. We are highly attuned to anyone who might be getting a slightly better deal than us, and more than happy to place every barrier in the way of them. God forbid someone should do a “nice thing” and then get to come back whilst others have to be down the salt mines to get to the same place....

Thus, instead of getting me back after I’ve recuperated, the MoD is going to pay me quite a large amount of money every year, and watch that “SQEP” sail over the horizon...
I think the issue of SQEPness is a it of a red herring. It's material in the outside world as well, just without a snappy acronym. I'd agree that any implementation will likely see it used as an obstacle, rather than a support to getting the right person. It's already a tick-box exercise in the service in many cases anyway.

Going back to the original premise of the thread, how could we expect an external candidate to demonstrate SQEP to direct enter? It has a similar application to a re-entry candidate as well.

I see it as needing a complete review of how we describe jobs, and how we fill them, across the entire candidate population. The early stage career probably remains similar, the desk officer has a need to plod the individual through the right sequence of jobs; DWEO, training, waterfront, acquisition, WEO, HQ or OOW, FC, PWO, small ship drive etc. Once you're at the mid seniority SO2 to SO1 level perhaps putting up three candidates for a role and giving them the agency to pitch themselves to the employer. Yes a lot more laborious for the manning desks, but it would give the individual some ownership of their career. You're not going to get away from the black market, but it would make it a little more transparent.

That could allow externals to demonstrate SQEPness against potential peers. And to an extent allow some open discussion of the potential benefit. From a personal perspective, I'd be unlikely to be able to demonstrate the same SQEP that I would have had I remained in the service, but equally Mammal CF who had remained in the service wouldn't have managed change programmes to the scale that I have today. Need someone who has led a £70M contract negotiation, you wouldn't get it from the individual that hadn't left the service and got some commercial experience.

It's not as simple as saying we'll bring in SO1s from outside because of their specialist skills, but a significant shift in how we allow people to demonstrate their suitability for jobs.
 
For me, a modified version of this idea from @alfred_the_great is the answer to the direct entry SO1 problem. I disagree that the armed forces should accept people back into service after a five year, pension-paying career break without any further thought. In essence the armed forces take all the risk in this situation and the majority of returners will be those who failed in the civilian world.

I think the answer is to use the idea of extended career breaks as a way of solving the issues about making someone an OF5 without any military experience at all. Let people leave on a pension and say that they're welcome to return within a certain timespan (5 years or maybe 10) provided they have experience that's useful to the armed forces. They should then be able to return at an appropriate rank depending on their experience, potentially an even higher than their original peers. If they haven't done anything useful in the civilian world then we don't take them back.

Our target audiences here are people like @alfred_the_great who need a break and might want to return, and people like @bobthebuilder who appear to have done enough to keep themselves happy in civvy street and want to offer something to HM.

The problems are twofold:

1. You'll have a hell of a time defining SQEP.

2. Allowing people the freedom when they return so that they aren't bound by process and moved jobs every two years will probably require a simultaneous overhaul of our career model as well as stripping back a lot of process, some of which is legally mandated.
I also think it would make life almost impossible for the strategic manning depts. How on earth could they predict future reqts, future manning levels, promotion quotas etc with no understanding of what may be coming back in?
 
One of the challenges also with SQEP is where is the domain expert making the judgment of what is suitable sits.
If the capability in question sits outside defence, then the challenge of bringing it in is significant and the second order effect of creating even more gatekeepers rises.

Looking at something such as UAV usage or employment adds in even more joint service judgment problems
 
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One of the challenges also with SQEP is where is the domain expert making the judgment of "what is suitable" sits.
The second-order problem isn't leavers and returners - it's the point at which a senior Lt is able to demonstrate that they are an SQEP to command a rifle company on operations.

As a "for-instance" - a substantive Lt (who had done a TELIC tour as a Pl Comd) went on a HERRICK tour as an acting Captain / Coy 2ic. Then, when the OC was injured mid-tour, they took over sub-unit command, which included taking part in BG offensive ops.*

Now, that Lt is undoubtedly an SQEP sub-unit commander. So... shouldn't they be able to apply for sub-unit command?

* This actually happened, BTW.
 
I can’t help wonder why the Army is wrapped around SQEP. It’s a concept that came out of the nuclear industry, where it’s pretty obvious you need suitable qualifications and experience to take command of a reactor.

The same is true of commanding a battle group. But the Q you need to do it and the E gain from doing it aren’t really very relevant to heading up procuring the next Warrior or managing recruiting.

Which would you rather have to run your £500M program? Someone with the SQEP to command a brigade or a chartered engineer with an MBA, PMP, a proven track record of delivering big complex projects in the defence sector and a previous service career to Lt Col?
 
Suitably Qualified & Experienced Personnel

Recognises that a course will teach you the theoretical but to actually achieve competence you need experience of using that in practice. In the RN we used to call it Training Performance Standard and Operational Performance Standard.
 
Suitably Qualified & Experienced Personnel

Recognises that a course will teach you the theoretical but to actually achieve competence you need experience of using that in practice. In the RN we used to call it Training Performance Standard and Operational Performance Standard.
Came from the nuclear industry where you really do need SQEP to manage a plant.

I can’t help but think it’s a highly inappropriate concept for most Army senior posts which are by nature generalist. It’s always been there; during my service senior jobs nearly always required you to be post command PSC despite that fact that neither necessarily provided either qualification or experience for the specific job.

The danger in applying formal SQEP requirements to jobs that don’t need them is that you end up closing the pool.
 
The head of a project or section or staff doesn’t (necessarily) have to be an expert in the field they are there to manage the team or project and make the decisions as required.

His staff on the other hand....
 
Came from the nuclear industry where you really do need SQEP to manage a plant.

I can’t help but think it’s a highly inappropriate concept for most Army senior posts which are by nature generalist. It’s always been there; during my service senior jobs nearly always required you to be post command PSC despite that fact that neither necessarily provided either qualification or experience for the specific job.

The danger in applying formal SQEP requirements to jobs that don’t need them is that you end up closing the pool.
I haven't seen it applies so narrowly. I have seen, for example, CEng required. Should a finance lead be a chartered accountant? Are you going to expect your LEGAD to have some legal qualification?

It can also be excessive. I can see one of the ways that obstacles will appear to external candidates will be PSC(j). Totally irrelevant in most of the circumstances where an external would bring value.

The FLCs play at SQEP most of the time, it's another half baked adoption from the world outside.

That said, we've always seem it play out in career management. In my service you're unlikely to get an OF5 role in HR unless you've done a couple of jobs there in the past. You're not going to be a navigator if you're an engineer or loggie. All we're now taking about is a bit of formalisation. Similar to career fields that we've had in the past.
 

Caecilius

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
It can also be excessive. I can see one of the ways that obstacles will appear to external candidates will be PSC(j). Totally irrelevant in most of the circumstances where an external would bring value.
I think the army is looking to change this under project CASTLE. One of the ideas being floated is a modular ICSC, with people only attending the relevant parts.

My instinct is that it will end up with combat arms attending all of it and others attending less, thereby undermining the whole concept, but I live in hope.
 
The head of a project or section or staff doesn’t (necessarily) have to be an expert in the field they are there to manage the team or project and make the decisions as required.

His staff on the other hand....
If you were selecting a leader for a £200M project, which would you pick? The post command officer qualified at ACSC who did a thrusting staff job at the centre and did PRINCE 2 or the person with and MBA, a proper project management qualification and a record of delivering big projects?

I think the army is looking to change this under project CASTLE. One of the ideas being floated is a modular ICSC, with people only attending the relevant parts.

My instinct is that it will end up with combat arms attending all of it and others attending less, thereby undermining the whole concept, but I live in hope.
Have to say, my instinct would differ. I suspect it will end up with combat arms attending a long course that over intellectualises the simple whilst combat support services will attend some seriously stretchy courses because what they do is complex. But the top jobs will require an SQEP will require the former.

Nothing will change until the Army recognises that battalion command and ACSC aren’t the right SQEP to run a complex change program or procurement project at 1*.
 
I think the army is looking to change this under project CASTLE. One of the ideas being floated is a modular ICSC, with people only attending the relevant parts.

My instinct is that it will end up with combat arms attending all of it and others attending less, thereby undermining the whole concept, but I live in hope.
Even then, it's an obstacle. If we're talking about bringing in people from the world then they won't have had the opportunity to do ICSC or ACSC. the question becomes, do then need to have done it or will it become an opportunity to put irrelevant obstacles in place.

As @bobthebuilder is identifying, do you actually want someone with an MBA, MCIPS, or an MSc in Project management to be leading the procurement of, for example, RPP2 or do you want a cavalry Col supported by a MoD contracts officer?

Equally you do risk excluding good candidates for a role from within the service, which gets back to the question of whether you need that individual to be in uniform or not. Going back to RPP, did that need a Col leading it, or would it have benefited from a civilian with some good experience negotiating contracts of that scale and complexity?
 

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