Programme CASTLE

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
I’m well aware that a process like this in the CS has resulted in another sort of patronage (basically JS so bland the board can pick who they want, and typically a pre-agreed candidate), but I think it’s worth a try.
There are ways around that, too, if the organisation is actually serious about doing it right. Double blind boards (candidates don't know who board is, board don't know who candidate is in advance of the interview, and are segregated from other board members by technology) have been done at commercial companies & interviews trying to address this problem.

Again, it's possible to game, but you put as many hurdles up as possible and make good on your enforcement threats. The incentive to game it reduces drastically, so it broadly stops.

Also agree that it often produces a bland process, but unfortunately the options that large organisations have are:

1. Bland but fair process that gets a high average of results, but misses brilliant edge cases.
2. Specific but highly corruptible process that may get a few brilliant results but disenfranchises the rest.

Option 3. is a combination of the two, such as small / startup organisations do who cannot afford to make one mistake and rely on the optimal choice, but is far too intensive for something the scale of the Army, and besides isn't exactly fair because it's still highly subjective based on "fit".

I also think Defence massively underestimates the value of giving a free but fair choice to servicepeople, regardless of outcome (e.g. the 'free market' system of jobs lists suggested by some US officers). One of the things that has always struck me about generals' memoirs is how 100% of them were remarkably open to surrendering any choice in their career, and actively seemed to like it (David Richards keeps going on about how great it was that random desk officers assigned him to unknown jobs). Unfortunately, that describes close to 0% of the current and upcoming generations. I think it's possible the system is optimised to the blind spot that all these senior officers have, presumably at least partly through survivorship bias, so they haven't truely understood the import of changing that one bit of policy. Certainly not all will get what they want, but losing a fair competition is very different to losing a fixed one.
 
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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.

I have commented extensively on the other thread. I have no issue with a single standard and a single order of merit. I was never an RSM (other than a 4 month stand in to cover a gap), therefore was never a golden child with a head start on LE boards.

However, it is utterly pointless having a single order of merit when there is no single order of merit list. When an individual coming relatively low down is promoted over someone relatively high up due to quotas.

The vast majority of first tour LE jobs are at Regt Duty in jobs ( or niche roles) that 99.9% of DE Capts wouldn’t touch with the world’s longest barge pole or don’t have the KSE(B) to do, no mater how much CASTLE pretends otherwise.

And Last time I looked LEs weren’t commissioned straight into staff roles. Therefore until the top 50 on the board are selected into the 50 jobs available, it is a flawed concept.

There’s loads more but I will only end up repeating again what I have said elsewhere :)
 

Bubbles_Barker

LE
Book Reviewer
Slightly aside to Project CASTLE - purely out of interest, how many Sandhurst Platoon Commanders / Company Commanders are LE officers?
None I hope, given that the reality was (is?) that selected NCOs trained officer cadets. Even 40 years ago, my platoon commander was irrelevant in terms of influence.

He was a Gunner though.
 
None I hope, given that the reality was (is?) that selected NCOs trained officer cadets. Even 40 years ago, my platoon commander was irrelevant in terms of influence.

He was a Gunner though.
OK, thank you.

So is it a fact that across the Army, LE officers are exempt certain posts & roles because of the - to outsiders, at least - toxic "LE" label?

Reason I ask is that, over the course of my fairly unimpressive career, I have come across light & dark blue ex-enlisted Officers in roles as wide & varied as the following:
  • MA to a 2*
  • CO of the RN Submarine Trg School
  • SF Sqn Ops O
  • RAF Station Commander
  • CFI of a University Air Squadron (on numerous separate occasions)
  • Frigate CO
Is it the case that a bloke / girl would be exempted similar roles in green purely due to prior service in the ranks (maybe up to WO1)???

I hasten to add that I am asking to garner / confirm facts, not to throw rocks. I'm genuinely interested.
 
OK, thank you.

So is it a fact that across the Army, LE officers are exempt certain posts & roles because of the - to outsiders, at least - toxic "LE" label?

Reason I ask is that, over the course of my fairly unimpressive career, I have come across light & dark blue ex-enlisted Officers in roles as wide & varied as the following:
  • MA to a 2*
  • CO of the RN Submarine Trg School
  • SF Sqn Ops O
  • RAF Station Commander
  • CFI of a University Air Squadron (on numerous separate occasions)
  • Frigate CO
Is it the case that a bloke / girl would be exempted similar roles in green purely due to prior service in the ranks (maybe up to WO1)???

I hasten to add that I am asking to garner / confirm facts, not to throw rocks. I'm genuinely interested.

Not sure the toxic LE Label isn't a throw back to previous days, much like the chinless wonder rich kid DE. There remains good and bad in both cohorts but I would say more an exception than the norm.

I had a full career of 21 years and 9 months to WO1. My second career started at 39 and due to TACOS was only ever going to be a little over 15 years. I did a mixture of traditional LE jobs with a couple of staff jobs thrown in.

I was a Sqn OC outside of my Corps (R Signals), a Regt 2IC and finished my regular service as an SO1 in a complex environment. I am not unique or even a particular high achiever (when it comes to ‘decent’ jobs) within my LE peer group.

I have no academic qualifications, unless they came for free due to courses attended and I never attended ICSC (MA module 1-3 were quite enough for me thank you :) )

All things considered, I think that is a decent achievement in 15 years and I would expect anyone coming from the ranks at a younger age to achieve more. But as people have pointed out, the services commission from the ranks in different ways with different purposes for their individual cohorts.

I would suspect a SNCO commissioning to DE TACOS is more comparable with the Navy & RAF system, but I could be completely wrong in that assumption :)
 

Caecilius

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
So is it a fact that across the Army, LE officers are exempt certain posts & roles because of the - to outsiders, at least - toxic "LE" label?

Yes and no. Some of the roles you mention would be open to LEs (and at least one is only open to LEs not DEs) but not all. That's not because the LE label is toxic though - it's because, rightly or wrongly, LEs are on separate terms of service to DEs. Soldiers who do the Sandhurst commissioning course and become ex-enlisted DEs have the same conditions of service as the rest of their DE counterparts.

This is all due to change in the very near future though as the terms of service will be combined so there won't be LEs and DEs, just different routes to becoming an officer. At least, that's what's been advertised by CASTLE.
 
Yes and no. Some of the roles you mention would be open to LEs (and at least one is only open to LEs not DEs) but not all. That's not because the LE label is toxic though - it's because, rightly or wrongly, LEs are on separate terms of service to DEs. Soldiers who do the Sandhurst commissioning course and become ex-enlisted DEs have the same conditions of service as the rest of their DE counterparts.

This is all due to change in the very near future though as the terms of service will be combined so there won't be LEs and DEs, just different routes to becoming an officer. At least, that's what's been advertised by CASTLE.
Instead of calling them LEs they'll be known as incredibly well paid compared to their counterparts Officers.
 
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Isn't the idea of Programme Castle to aid recruitment & retention?

it as well as NEM, ABP etc to do with increased time between tours, less movement of units, etc

yet in the latest reorg, there are less units to allow rotation in the combat bdes, more international deployments (including forward deployments)
 

giatttt

War Hero
You would then have hundreds of officers flying around the world for interviews. How many to be interviewed per job and more important who selects them for the post, or do you suggest advertising appointments - which is not that bad an idea.
The conceit that the uniformed branch of the mod is so very special, that promotion boards are the only answer is at the root of the rot. Far bigger organisations manage very well with internal job adverts and an application/interview process.

I've lost count of the number of entirely unsuitable individuals appointed to important roles or roles that the appointee had absolutely no interest in.
 

Auld-Yin

ADC
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Reviews Editor
The conceit that the uniformed branch of the mod is so very special, that promotion boards are the only answer is at the root of the rot. Far bigger organisations manage very well with internal job adverts and an application/interview process.

I've lost count of the number of entirely unsuitable individuals appointed to important roles or roles that the appointee had absolutely no interest in.
Most of those 'far bigger organisations', I suspect, don't require their employees to move tasks and location/country every two to three years - and not just selected individuals, but virtually every person in the organisation.
 
Isn't the idea of Programme Castle to aid recruitment & retention?

it as well as NEM, ABP etc to do with increased time between tours, less movement of units, etc

yet in the latest reorg, there are less units to allow rotation in the combat bdes, more international deployments (including forward deployments)

The good old do more with less by working smarter not harder concept. We will reduce our numbers but increase our footprint on the world stage.

I can’t see the problem myself :) :)
 

Caecilius

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Far bigger organisations manage very well with internal job adverts and an application/interview process.

Some do, some don't. In some parts of the civil service, the need to interview means that job handovers are rare and posts are often gapped for a significant amount of time.

The nature of conducting interviews in the public sector, where decisions are reviewable and things need to be seen to be fair, means that the interviews end up being stilted 'competency' questions that often measure how good you are at jumping through the competency hoops rather than assessing your genuine ability to do the job.

I use to believe that we should interview for roles, but having seen it in action elsewhere in government I think it should be used sparingly.
 

chimera

LE
Moderator
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.

Or should that read: "..in order to ensure that the Household Division and RIFLES come out on top at the expense of those grubby CS/CSS types.."

In seriousness, an overall Army wide OOM is meaningless. I agree with @CAARPS above. LE commissions will often be feeding a given numerical requirement for trade/professional specific roles, and each part of the Army will have an E1 liability to fill. Garrison Engineers in the Sappers, and equivalents in REME, Signals etc for example. No reason why QM 1 RIFLES cannot be from PWRR, but an infantry LE unlikely to make an effective STRE officer and vice versa.
 
OK, thank you.

So is it a fact that across the Army, LE officers are exempt certain posts & roles because of the - to outsiders, at least - toxic "LE" label?

Reason I ask is that, over the course of my fairly unimpressive career, I have come across light & dark blue ex-enlisted Officers in roles as wide & varied as the following:
  • MA to a 2*
  • CO of the RN Submarine Trg School
  • SF Sqn Ops O
  • RAF Station Commander
  • CFI of a University Air Squadron (on numerous separate occasions)
  • Frigate CO
Is it the case that a bloke / girl would be exempted similar roles in green purely due to prior service in the ranks (maybe up to WO1)???

I hasten to add that I am asking to garner / confirm facts, not to throw rocks. I'm genuinely interested.
I have come across ex-enlisted Army officers who have done rather better than MA to a 2*; they were the 2*s themselves. As a junior Captain I spent a couple of weeks as ADC to the then Chief Royal Engineer who enlisted as a Sapper and made 4*.

They weren’t LEs. LEs are recruited from the warrant officer cadre on specific terms of service to do specific jobs. There’s nothing toxic about it; they know the conditions when they sign on for and LE commission. And they all had the opportunity to apply to be commissioned as DE officers earlier in their career.
 

giatttt

War Hero
Most of those 'far bigger organisations', I suspect, don't require their employees to move tasks and location/country every two to three years - and not just selected individuals, but virtually every person in the organisation.
Even more vital to get the best person in the role.

Working on large infrastructure projects does involve significant relocation, but it tends to be managed to allow a family life to be managed.
 

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Even 40 years ago, my platoon commander was irrelevant in terms of influence.
Yes and no.

Certainly in drills and skills, CSgts tend to be the prime mover. But platoon commanders still have a lot of influence by example (good or bad), and most importantly: they and the reports they write are the key determinant of where you place in the rankings, and often your chances at RSB.

But, true, yours was a Gunner (so were mine).
 

Auld-Yin

ADC
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Reviews Editor
Even more vital to get the best person in the role.

Working on large infrastructure projects does involve significant relocation, but it tends to be managed to allow a family life to be managed.
So not like the Services then!
 

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
The nature of conducting interviews in the public sector, where decisions are reviewable and things need to be seen to be fair, means that the interviews end up being stilted 'competency' questions that often measure how good you are at jumping through the competency hoops rather than assessing your genuine ability to do the job.

That is true, and almost every large organisation interview process I've seen - even the ones where they are trying really hard with a serious process and good applicant pool - fails to identify edge cases that were probably a lot more suitable than what they get, but less defensible against their checklist. That is a problem inherent to a certain UK-style application of bureaucracy and transparency, however, not interviews. Correct that it would almost certainly replicate in the Army, it's like a fungus in the soil of modern bureaucracy.

So that leaves a choice between:

1. An auditable, fair system that gets high averages, but misses out on brilliance and can be clunky and frustrating. Doesn't get the best possible option, does reliably get someone who is in the top 40%.
2. An opque, quasi-nepotistic system that results in a large percentage of dross at the mid levels and loses a lot of good people, but may (unproven) one day produce the kwisatz haderach.

Seems to me that a rational, disinterested observer would suggest the first option, and the second is simply the golden path system that everyone here seems to disagree with.

Annoyingly, there are examples where Army gets this broadly right: like AOSB and, at its best, Sandhurst. It's not unknown change, or change for the sake of change: it's just reinforcing success, based on good, relevant evidence. Unfortunately, much of the Army and MS is captured by the worst elements of the system which reinforces failure at higher levels, and then lies about it.

The biggest roadblock I've seen is that, due to various effects, almost every officer past IG2 is increasingly convinced that the current system shouldn't be changed, regardless of what they thought six, four or even two years previously. It's hard not to see this as pure survivorship and sunk cost biases on their part. Which is why it will likely never change until taken out of their hands: not the best possible option (that would be internal reform) but perhaps the best available option.
 
Some do, some don't. In some parts of the civil service, the need to interview means that job handovers are rare and posts are often gapped for a significant amount of time.

The nature of conducting interviews in the public sector, where decisions are reviewable and things need to be seen to be fair, means that the interviews end up being stilted 'competency' questions that often measure how good you are at jumping through the competency hoops rather than assessing your genuine ability to do the job.

I use to believe that we should interview for roles, but having seen it in action elsewhere in government I think it should be used sparingly.
Well put. I think you’ve posted similar on interviews previously and I made this same observation then:

Interviewing effectively to make an appointment is a definite skill, one that you develop by interviewing and being interviewed. Sure there is training, but you only really become competent from experience.

Interviewing a candidate is very different from interviewing a newly posted in soldier and very different from carrying out a compatibility interview on a civil servant. There is no corporate experience of appointment interview in the services; we all went through selection boards in which the interview is just a part. And very few have ever carried out a proper job candidate interview.

IMHO the challenge of properly interviewing for appointment should not be underestimated.
 
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