R&R on tour

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by crabby, Nov 9, 2009.

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  1. As I am an outsider if this topic is inappropriate please do feel to ignore/delete.

    Several of my friends have been on tours to hot/sandy places in the last ~6 years. Within their 6 month tour they were given 2 weeks R&R. Most mentioned that they did not "enjoy" their R&R for various reasons:
    - The feeling that they'd rather just get the job done
    - Feeling guilty for leaving their mates out there while they go on a jolly
    - Not wanting to be seen to be "abandoning" their men and in one case he found it difficult not to blame himself when one of them was killed in his absence.
    - Feeling out of place amongst friends/family back home, all the time knowing you've got to go back for x amount of time.

    Many spoke about trying to get their R&R either as early or as late on in the tour as possible.

    Is there a better way to do R&R? Is it better just to cut two weeks off a tour's length? Does R&R have a visible impact on the strength of a unit (for example if your company commander is away). Would there be a way to "group" R&R so one member does not feel they are letting their section down as they're all on R&R?

    Or the system works, I was just asking.
  2. On our first (Herrick 4) tour R&R was done on an individual basis. This was a pain in the arrse trying to fly a very few out of FOB locations in time for their R&R. It also meant platoons were always short of blokes. On Herrick 8 we rotated whole companies through R&R. It's definitely better getting R&R later on in the tour as there's something to look forward to for a longer period.
  3. Ah, I didn't know that. Thank you - that is one of the things I'd been wondering, if it made more sense to have R&R organised in that way. Most people I had spoken to were Herrick 6 and Telic 9 I think.
  4. It is worth considering if the two weeks' R&R as currently organised best achieves its objective. While the Army is going to greater lengths to equip personnel for the demands of returning home at an end of a tour, there exists a gap with R&R, as decompression is lacking. It is an odd experience being on patrol one day and in the local the next, knowing that there is still work to be done. I am not at all surprised by the sentiments expressed to crabby.

    Bearing in mind the intensity of Afghan, I reckon R&R back in the UK is too psychologically disruptive. Of course it takes a brave commander to say we're not doing two weeks back home for every man jack. R&R has come to be expected as a right when traditionally it has been a morale tool to boost combat effectiveness.

    Any alternative to the two weeks back in UK should focus on ensuring soldiers' batteries are recharged for the rest of the tour while maintaining unit cohesion. Get them out of the fight/daily grind/monotony, but keep them away from the dramas of home. I have loosely built my suggestions around my experience of post-ExGrandPrix R&R/AT on the Kenyan coast. a)Designate an R&R centre out of theatre. Something with sunshine, a pool, sports fields, beaucoup broadband, individual rooms and soft, clean sheets. b)Sub-units to take R&R together. c)Provide some sort of structure to R&R in the way of sports/AT. Not too heavy with the enforced fun. Something that allows soldiers some space to themselves if they need it, but not enough that they get bored. Give commanders discretion on the organisation of R&R. They know their men best and best understand what state they're in. d)Have counselling staff available. Maximise opportunities for soldiers to spin dits on what they've gone through so far. e)Two weeks R&R in this instance would probably be too long. A week alone might do it.

    It goes without saying that what I propose would cost a good sight more than the current system.
  5. Given the choice I would rather not have R&R. The impact upon operational effectiveness is one thing but the adjusting to home and then the return to theatre is not easy. It is worth noting that making this call for an entire Bde or Bn would be tough and I don't have any kids and so that perhaps skews my view.

    Some form of rotation from combat is required even if it is a couple of days out of the FOBs every month or two.
  6. This is a very progressive idea, but i doubt it would ever be implimented
  7. You do have the choice not to fly back, one of our lads had two seperate weeks rest in theatre rather than fly back to the UK.
  8. Thanks Stacker. Noted. The operational disruption still occurs and frankly the idea of two weeks of enforced rest in Bastion or KAF would probably finish me off! On reflection, perhaps a week on the beach at Goa would work!
  9. I wouldn't want R&R unless I could go home. Can't think of anything worse than having spent 4 months on Herrick and getting a week off in Cyprus, but not being allowed to go home.

    On the early Telic tours, lads were getting mini-R&R breaks to Kuwait - which meant there was always something to look forward to. Trouble is, it takes manpower and logistics.
  10. How about giving everyone a day off every 12 days instead?
  11. the_boy_syrup

    the_boy_syrup LE Book Reviewer

    Not having done Herrick but did Telic 4 my opinion was:

    Took the last R & R package available as late in the tour as possible didn't want to go home and then come back and start again
    Would much rather push on and get it done and stick the two weeks on to the POTL
    I thought the OSD in Doha was cracking 4 or 5 days of that would have done it for me
    The chance to chill but still remain in the military enviroment instead of going straight back to civvie street with everyone counting the days until it was time to return to Basra
  12. That sounds like something a typical overbearing infantry officer or SNCO would think is a good idea.

    Pte Bloggs would hate that. during a hard tour the last thing he wants is to spend his RnR with the same c*nts he's been seeing the last 4 months every hour of every day, being told to have fun by the same c*nts who have been telling him what to do the last 4 months, it would f*cking snap me.

    And enforced fun f*cing breaks me too, people don't want to do AT, they want to get their end away, spend way to much money and drink way too much, and occasionally see their families as they head out the door for another night out.
  13. I take my R and R 3,5 - 4 months in. Break the back of the tour first. Works a treat!

    Until you get extended. Which has happened both times. Most recently less than a week before punching out. The time before 2 weeks prior. Really cheers me up that does. Now if you'll excuse me I feel the urge to sulk.
  14. Couldn't agree more. Even if there feelings of leaving mates behind, and you spend 2 weeks glued to BBC News 24, I guarantee soldiers come back with batteries recharged and better equipped to continue the fight.

    If you tried to take this away from people there would be a revolt. You also have to think of families and not just the blokes - a straight 6 months away would lead to more divorces etc. You also wouldn't get as many people volunteering for tours, coupled with higher sign off rates, etc.

    While the idea of taking formed units out of the line is great in theory, it's a bugger in reality, as especially in FOBs you have a unit dropped in who don't know the ground etc. (although it would be good to be the unit that covers the R&R and sees all of the theatre a few weeks at a time...)

    Different people have different needs, some like it early, some late. Pads want to be back for Xmas and half term. I for instance like to get away in February for the best snow in the Alps. Formed unit R&R would mean only about 15% of people would get it when they actually wanted it, not a great satisfaction rating!