Programme CASTLE

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Given that the answer to almost every "what is wrong with the Army" discussion on here includes, at some point, the career system, I'd expected there to be more about Project CASTLE.

It's been going on for nearly 3 years now, which is starting to remind me of the NEM: a review that lasted for nearly half a decade, the core outputs of which were minor alterations of some allowances and pay grades. Given this spanner in the works, I don't imagine it's going perfectly in terms of management coherence, either.

In the open, there are the usual summaries of powerpoint slides and meaningless fluff like this, but little more. Is there any more detail on the inside? Has anyone submitted ideas to ArmyPers-CASTLE-GroupMailbox@mod.gov.uk ? What were they if so (surely that can't be secret).

Anyone know, speculate or even interested in what is going on? Are there any ramparts yet? Is there even a foundation? Was Bell set up by the same people who are giving us COVID through 5G? Has everyone basically assumed that it will take forever and ultimately just recommend changing some job titles, so totally lost interest?

Watch and shoot.
 
There has definitely been some change - the LECAB and change to LE TACOS have (or are about to) happened.
 

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
There has definitely been some change - the LECAB and change to LE TACOS have (or are about to) happened.
My acronym-fu has become weaker by the day since leaving, the CAB bit of LECAB is...?

Edit: Never mind, found it.

Edit 2: Not sure I understand, however. From what I can find it seems to suggest an introduction (pilot schemes) of a CAB for LEs. Yet there are mentions of it on this forum from 2009. Is this not just a reintroduction? I also know several of my old SNCOs who went through some form of CAB, so a version of it has obviously existed. Is the change that it has been standardised or applied more widely?

Seems to me like a rebranding or reinvention, or am I missing something?
 
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Now being done at a centralised place (RMAS) in a single time period, with cap badge agnostic assessors to produce an overall order of merit. People like @CAARPS may be able to offer a view. From an outsiders perspective, it looks like a way of reducing cronyism and more justifiable way of producing LEs.
 

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Now being done at a centralised place (RMAS) in a single time period, with cap badge agnostic assessors to produce an overall order of merit. People like @CAARPS may be able to offer a view. From an outsiders perspective, it looks like a way of reducing cronyism and more justifiable way of producing LEs.

Fair enough. God knows places like the Int Corps could use reduced cronyism in appointments, they might even get the right person in the right job more than once a decade.

Will be very interested if they apply the same principle to DE officers. Banning and penalising backchannel influence on assignments would be a positive step. An MS system that works as it says it does, not how some General / CO would like it to work for their MA / Adjt, would be a start.
 
Fair enough. God knows places like the Int Corps could use reduced cronyism in appointments, they might even get the right person in the right job more than once a decade.

Will be very interested if they apply the same principle to DE officers. Banning and penalising backchannel influence on assignments would be a positive step. An MS system that works as it says it does, not how some General / CO would like it to work for their MA / Adjt, would be a start.

So, remake human interaction? Good luck with that...
 

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
So, remake human interaction? Good luck with that...
Every system of organisation in existence is a remake of human interaction, otherwise the alternative free-for-all would be sufficient.

It's perfectly possible to take steps to minimise cronyism, and at least make it socially unacceptable and drive it underground. That's preferable to making it so overt that the open subversion of The Rules affects every officer above field grade. Fairly sure I've not been out so long that Integrity isn't still much preached, regardless of how much it is practiced.
 
So unacknowledged and unknowable patronage is preferable?

If you say so.

I think CASTLE is more about changing career structures so that it’s not solely about producing 1 CGS every 24-30 months.
 

Bubbles_Barker

LE
Book Reviewer
Fair enough. God knows places like the Int Corps could use reduced cronyism in appointments, they might even get the right person in the right job more than once a decade.

Will be very interested if they apply the same principle to DE officers. Banning and penalising backchannel influence on assignments would be a positive step. An MS system that works as it says it does, not how some General / CO would like it to work for their MA / Adjt, would be a start.
I was selected to be Adjt on the basis of CRs and my JDSC report which recommended me as such, the unit (AMF(L)) was on the basis of previous experience, the CO had no hand in it. Until he discovered I would be married and demanded that I be sent elsewhere.

Luckily he was a mercurial Irishman and had forgotten all about it by the time I arrived. He turned out to be a great bloke to work for too. Rightly or wrongly (wrongly in my case!) Adjt was seen very much as the first step on the way to the top back in those days.

I don't think it's the same now but willing to be disabused.
 

Daxx

MIA
Book Reviewer
Every new change the MOD comes up with is usually about saving cash, disguised as making things better for Tommy, Jack and whatever crabs are called.
 
Now being done at a centralised place (RMAS) in a single time period, with cap badge agnostic assessors to produce an overall order of merit. People like @CAARPS may be able to offer a view. From an outsiders perspective, it looks like a way of reducing cronyism and more justifiable way of producing LEs.
I can't see it being a good idea. Fine if you're looking for Quartermasters, we might get one that construct an email, but not for specialists. I'd be really interested in seeing the "board" construction.
 
I can't see it being a good idea. Fine if you're looking for Quartermasters, we might get one that construct an email, but not for specialists. I'd be really interested in seeing the "board" construction.
Pass.
The CASTLE website is pretty easy to find though.
 

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
So unacknowledged and unknowable patronage is preferable?

If you say so.

I think CASTLE is more about changing career structures so that it’s not solely about producing 1 CGS every 24-30 months.
To overt and universal patronage? Yes. Making it a real black market activity (where there are penalties for trying) is likely to make it substantially disappear. No ambitious officer I've ever met will risk their own career to help a subordinate's. Patronage exists when it is zero or low cost. So you make it high cost. Even appearing to exert influence puts them in the hands of the person they are trying to influence. They would have to be very certain of a positive reception to risk trying.

This is how, for example, we enforce norms against corruption. Why is this different, exactly? Again: Integrity, and other words which the Army says are important.

I fail to see how this isn't the same issue as career structures: structures which only work if the rules framing them are enforced. Currently swathes of the MS system are deliberately circumvented or subverted, because there are no consequences so everyone does it.

I don't think it's the same now but willing to be disabused.

Posted these examples before, but worth repeating:

A. Top 3rd individual is called up by their next job to sort out details...2 weeks before the jobs board sits. Job that called individual up wasn't even on their preferences.
B. Adjt is told by CO "tell me what job you want next, it's basically the only power I have left to make happen for you". Adjt gets nominated job choice.
C. Individual goes to ADC interview, General does not take individual as ADC, but does call up Regt HQ and insist that individual is next RMAS platoon commander (one job every 2 years). Individual had never considered or put down RMAS. Regt HQ of course obliges General. Others with RMAS as choice are unimpressed.
D. Individual goes to ADC interview and gets ADC position. Individual is subsequently quite open about General being a family friend who had promised individual would be his ADC.

All of these are 1st hand accounts from the individuals involved. Beneficiaries in B, C and D weren't even embarrassed by accepting the patronage (obviously A was just pissed off). As an addendum, 100% of the 'losers' from the situations in A and C left within 3 years, two explictly because of those decisions.

I don't think this is entirely separate from the 'golden path' to CGS issue that @alfred_the_great mentions. The obvious undercurrent of these cases is that there are individuals who are identified, subjectively through patronage, as golden path, and everyone else is a 2nd class citizen. For all the classic reasons against cronyism and nepotism, that is poor behaviour that produces bad results, even before the integrity fails of subverting the formal operation of the system. But in a world where officers regularly censure their soldiers for V&S failures, the latter alone should certainly be enough to condemn them.

The whole thing stinks. I would suggest that anyone who thinks that what is described above is not a problem (several interlinked problems, even) tries to offer a rationale for why it is a good or at least neutral thing, rather than just a sort of fatalistic shrug of "officers will be officers".
 

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
I can't see it being a good idea. Fine if you're looking for Quartermasters, we might get one that construct an email, but not for specialists. I'd be really interested in seeing the "board" construction.

Decreasingly few LE Captains are actually specialists though, surely? Smatterings from the Signals, Int Corps, REME? I take your point, but it's sensible to build a system for the majority, not the edge cases.
 
Decreasingly few LE Captains are actually specialists though, surely? Smatterings from the Signals, Int Corps, REME? I take your point, but it's sensible to build a system for the majority, not the edge cases.
That depends upon the impact of losing the edge cases. I'd include RE in the list above too.
 

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
That depends upon the impact of losing the edge cases. I'd include RE in the list above too.
Totally, but my point is that it makes more sense to waiver the edge cases and design the system for the majority, than the other way around.
 

Bubbles_Barker

LE
Book Reviewer
The whole thing stinks. I would suggest that anyone who thinks that what is described above is not a problem (several interlinked problems, even) tries to offer a rationale for why it is a good or at least neutral thing, rather than just a sort of fatalistic shrug of "officers will be officers".
I would agree - but isn't restricted to the Army, or to Defence, it's quite widespread in the commercial world too from what I can see.
 

Yokel

LE
An outsider comments...

One of the dark blue types that used to post here commented on the way that some FTRS types continued in FTRS posts for year after year, by having faces that fitted, and this could lead to some very toxic behaviour. I can think of an example of an OF3 who forgot that he had been the Assisting Officer for someone had had a Service Complaint upheld at level 2, and managed to make the records disappear.
 
I would agree - but isn't restricted to the Army, or to Defence, it's quite widespread in the commercial world too from what I can see.
And anywhere where the potential for “mates rates” exists. That is to say everywhere.
 
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