READ THIS! CGS Briefing Team Report Spring 2005

#1
I am putting this in here as I believe it contains something for everyone. This season, the Team did not focus on the Reserve, as they will rightly be the focus of the next report. If nothing else, this will raise awareness of the existence of the CGS' Briefing Team and its role, which is taking your views heard to the very top.

For ease of use, I have placed the various comments from Commands in using different colours. HQ LAND is in blue, HQ AG is in red, and CGS is in tradtional green. Where relevant, I have used brown for comments from other TLBs (CGS and DPR most notably). If it is distracting, please let me know and I will strip them out, but bear in kind they place the central issue in context, and actually seek to provide more direction and clarity - without them, you may find your understanding of the rationale behind the answers is blunted unnecessarily.

I do have the other components of the report, notably the amusing 'Quotes' section - if you want me to post it, please holler. I'm not doing it straight out of the box as I believe it will take focus away from this report.

Finally - I apologise for the length of the report as it is reproduced here - but it is a very worthwhile read!!

Enjoy - any questions, please ask.

THE CHIEF OF THE GENERAL STAFF’S
BRIEFING TEAM


SPRING 2005 REPORT

INTRODUCTION

1. This executive summary is a précis of the feedback from the soldiers and their families visited by CGS’s Briefing Team over the past 5 months.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

PROGRAMME

2. During the tour the Team visited regular Field Army units from a broad range of formations and locations including 19 Brigade, the aviation element of 16 Air Assault Brigade as well as all units serving in Cyprus and the Falkland Islands. Presentations were also delivered to and feedback collected from the Late Entry Officers’ Courses (LEOC), the Commanding Officers’ Designate Course (CODC), the Senior Officers’ Course and the senior term at RMAS. There were no TA visits as the next tour will concentrate on the Reserves.

OVERVIEW

3. The operational backdrop to the tour included the continuing high level of violence in IRAQ, the announcement of the operational awards for TELIC 4 (including the VC for Pte Beharry) and the continued rotation of Op TELIC forces. The FAS Implementation Plan was announced early in the tour and there was press interest in an Iraq-related DCM and 2 Deepcut-related reports. The new pension scheme was introduced and the annual pay rise announced towards the end of the tour.

4. In general soldiers are upbeat, particularly about operations, and are responding positively to the changes under FAS. Where there was significant unease it was usually caused partially by uncertainty.

THE MAJOR ISSUES

5. Accommodation. In common with the last tour, maintenance and inconsistency in the standard of the Army’s estate were the issues which engendered the greatest criticism.

HQ LAND: It is recognised that much work is needed across the Army estate to bring it to a satisfactory standard. With limited resources, improvement is targeted on a “worst first” basis on sites with a long- term future.

a. Single Living Accommodation (SLA). Once again this tour saw a mix of real unhappiness with poor accommodation and a complete contrast in places where modern accommodation had been built. The locations that caused the most comment were those that had a mix of Z scale and old accommodation, which was seen as divisive. Soldiers suggest that, where new accommodation is built, the whole unit should benefit rather than just part of it. One example of a location where this caused severe bad feeling was Wattisham where both the officers and the junior ranks had Z Scale accommodation but the SNCOs were in a poor, temporary accommodation block. Units who are not in the early part of the modernisation programme suggest that we should also invest money in their current accommodation in the interim. Soldiers frequently asked for new furniture, including“RAF beds”, to be purchased for their SLA .

HQ LAND. It is recognised that mixed standards of accommodation on one site can be divisive but resources for new SLA are focussed on a “worst first” basis across the Army rather than on overcoming mixed standards on one site.

HQ AG. Improvement remains at the forefront of DE's agenda. A total of 1189 bedspaces have been delivered through the SLA modernisation programme with a further 4600 in construction and 1600 in planning. Wattisham. Wattisham SNCOs’ accommodation is Grade 2 and the refurbishment was not a SLAM project. With DE taking over the budgets for SLA/SFA and the first FAS Basing expected to be underway before 2008, interim investment may not be possible.
Provision of Beds. Tri-Service Regulation provides for 4' metal frame divan style beds for all new and refurbished builds.


I am acutely aware that the poor standard of some Single Living Accommodation is a major cause of dissatisfaction. Indeed, I have explained our concerns to the new Secretary of State. However, we are addressing the issue as quickly as we can on a ‘worst first’ basis. This policy means that not all accommodation in a single barracks is upgraded at the same time. ECAB have considered this implication, but we are clear the current policy makes the greatest inroads into the problem in the shortest time.

b. Service Families Accommodation (SFA). Once again the mix of standard of accommodation and the pace of the upgrade programme were the major issues on SFA. In Cyprus there was frustration over a planning hiatus that was evident when the collapse of Project Aphrodite left the local commanders with a need to rebuild houses but no resources. Similarly, the significant work required to rebuild Invicta Park quarters in Maidstone has been cancelled because of a lack of clarity over the plans for RSME PPP, GMAS and the long-term basing of the Regiment. Soldiers and their families complain that we should be able to sort out these plans more quickly than is evidently the case. One subject that caused incredulity was the fact that we were paying rent on quarters in Maidstone that did not exist whilst there was no money to upgrade the houses that were there.

HQ LAND. Mixed standards of SFA are a matter concern, as are delays to improvements on some sites caused by uncertainty over future Army structures and basing. The Army basing plan under FAS was cleared by ECAB on 26 May 05, and much of the uncertainty should now disappear.

HQ AG. See Para 12.a for Cyprus comment.
Invicta Park. The rebuild of Invicta Park will not go ahead until a decision is taken about the future of the site. Currently the site is marked for closure. The RSME PPP is due to go to Main Gate in Sep 05.
Rent for SFA at Maidstone. The houses in question were demolished some time ago. It was a condition of the original contract between AHL and the Department that a 'ghost rent' would be paid for any SFA demolished. The decision to demolish was subject to a full Investment Appraisal (IA) requiring discussion between Annington Homes Limited (AHL) and the Department and this decision, although unsatisfactory, was the most cost effective. We accept that soldiers are likely to have difficulty in accepting the contractual requirement to pay ‘ghost rents’ as a satisfactory explanation.


Problems caused by the lack of long-term clarity over basing plans should now recede as our plans firm up. ECAB recently endorsed the FAS Basing Plan and will consider the Infantry Basing Plan before the end of the year.

6. Financial Matters. As usual there was a high level of comment about financial matters.

a. Pay. In the first half of the tour every unit expressed the opinion that we should not have to pay tax on operations. Once the Team started briefing the findings of the Mercer Report the complaint stopped and there was a suggestion that this information should be better publicised. The 2005 pay rise was greeted with neither enthusiasm nor complaint.

HQ LAND/HQ AG. The tax on operations issue has also come up during AFPRB visits. People have been reassured when it has been explained that the Mercer Report (Benchmarking International Armed Forces’ Pay and Allowances) took account of taxation differences. DPR(A) published an ABN in Jun 05 which set out the main conclusions drawn by both Mercer and the AFPRB. Discussion groups during AFPRB visits also reflect a muted response to the Pay Award.

b. Administration. There was continued frustration that we have not yet sorted out the pay accounts of those who have been paid incorrectly for some time. The articles on the subject in Soldier Magazine - which were backed up by an Army Briefing Note - raised the level of awareness, and therefore also of complaint, about the scale of this issue. Nevertheless, the level of general complaint about the administration of pay, although still significant, has declined over the past year.

HQ LAND/HQ AG. DSPS(A), as customer focus, continues to work very closely with AFPAA to maintain the momentum in clearing the Pay 2000 anomalies as quickly as possible. An honest and open approach to communicating the protracted schedule for Phase 2 of this work was considered essential to keep soldiers informed; the adverse reaction was anticipated. We will continue to publish updates in Soldier Magazine. Pay corrections for the vast majority of soldiers affected in Phase 2 remains on schedule to be delivered from Feb 06 through to May 06.

c. Pension. So far there has been a muted reaction to the new pension scheme as people are still waiting for their Offer To Transfer to see the effect it will have on them individually.

HQ LAND/HQ AG. PS10(A) are briefing the G1 Chain of Command at Div and Bde level on the OTT process during the period 26 Apr - 7 Jul 05. The Commanding Officers' Guide to the OTT process and a Unit Admin Pack have been delivered to units to help them prepare for the OTT process. The pack consists of pension booklets, the new pension and compensation JSPs, a detailed Q&A brief, a DVD focusing on what to consider in making a transfer choice and a scripted Power Point presentation. Later in June, a pension calculator on CD-ROM will be distributed to units for individuals to work out "What If?" scenarios. The OTT process will start for individuals from 18 Jul 05 when the individual Offer To Transfer (OTT) packs are distributed.

d. Allowances. Longer Service Advance of pay for house Purchase (LSAP) was raised in almost every officers’ and SNCOs’ feedback session. The common view is that the rules should be less restrictive, the allowance should be larger and it should be available earlier in a soldiers’ career. Once again single soldiers (particularly divorcees) made the case for disturbance allowance for single soldiers.

HQ LAND. LSAP constitutes one element of a wider Review of Accompanied Service (Over 37 Provision) being carried out by DPS(A). HQ LAND has been engaged with PS4(A) in reviewing both capital and age limitations of the LSAP entitlement with the intention of increasing the amount and widening eligibility, reflecting similar recommendations made in the AFPRB 2005 Report. The issue is being taken forward by PS4(A) and, although under Treasury consideration, is unlikely to be resolved in the short-term.

HQ AG. We have submitted a proposal to amend the qualifying criteria to remove reference to age and to promote early entry into the LSAP scheme and increase the amount significantly. No decision has yet been made and the initiative rests at Treasury level. We are reviewing the disturbance allowance with a view to making it more equitable.

Our overall remuneration package is amongst the best for modern armies – we must get that message across. Meanwhile we must continue to reduce the number of soldiers who are incorrectly paid and get the introduction of JPA right.

7. Personnel Issues.

a. Sick at Home. The majority of units, with the exception of the Gurkhas, reported a concern over the number of soldiers who were "sick at home". The Infantry were most concerned. The problem was exacerbated by difficulties in dealing with the issue when stationed overseas.

HQ LAND. There is concern over the number of soldiers who are sick at home throughout the Army. Most recently, the LAND Sickness Absence Management Instruction (LAND/Pers/2706 dated 12 Nov 04) was reissued and provides instructions to units regarding responsibilities and procedures for the administration of those who are absent sick. To improve accessibility to the instruction, it will shortly be re-issued as a LANDSO. The problem should not be exacerbated when overseas, provided the correct notification (to the appropriate regional MAO(CH)) is taking place.

HQ AG. The concern over the number of soldiers "sick at home” is highly relevant to manpower availability. In consultation with AMD, DPS(A) are engaged in work on the wider subject of Sickness Absence Management, which encompasses this issue. Thus the issue is currently under review and will be treated as a high priority.Para 7.b - Non-Deployable Soldiers.

b. Non-Deployable Soldiers. In common with the previous tour, the issue of non-deployable soldiers was a concern. Units are becoming more aware of how to get downgraded soldiers cleared for limited deployment, but there was still a call for some form of financial disincentive to becoming non-deployable.

HQ LAND. The number of soldiers who are non-FE masks the true picture of those who are actually non-deployable, which is a significantly smaller percentage. HQ LAND is looking at the issue in conjunction with DM(A)’s staff to re-categorise individuals according to their ability to achieve fitness for role. Financial ‘disincentives’ have been considered and would not be supported as this would have a direct impact on those who have become non-deployable through no fault of their own – for example, as a result of wounding on active service – but who were still capable of fulfilling a valuable supporting role, perhaps within the enabling component.

HQ AG. The liability for deployment is reflected in the X-Factor calculation. However, the X-Factor is not just for deploying on operations; it covers the balance of advantages and disadvantages of Service life, at home and abroad, married or single, over a full career. Rather than attempting to financially penalise non-deployable personnel, we should encourage those who are medically downgraded, or are less fit, or who lose fitness perhaps through injury, to achieve the necessary medical, fitness and military standards. Developmental and rehabilitative training is core business in a professional Army which values its people.

These are important issues and AG is leading work to address the number of soldiers who are sick at home and downgraded. We must wait until that work is complete to announce precisely what action will be taken.

c. Social Parity. The majority of units had at least a significant minority who were asking for equal rights for non-married long-term partners. This has partially been inspired by the news that civil unions for homosexual couples will be recognised in the future.

HQ LAND. DM(A) has been engaged with both HQ NI and LAND over the input to AG’s Equality and Diversity Report, which reviews relevant issues from the last year and will produce an in-year Action Plan, set against such issues as the DOC, HCDC and ALI (DHALI) reports, Iraqi abuse cases and work being led by the Royal Navy on sexual orientation. This will be issued to the chain of command, laying specific responsibilities on commanders.

HQ AG. AG and the PPOs have closely monitored and considered this issue. The outcome of their discussions is that the Armed Forces will not 'get ahead of the law' but rather comply with the law in this area as and when it changes. Civil unions for homosexual couples who do not have the option to marry is a matter of law to be introduced in late 2005 or early 2006.

Some clarification is required here. Since homosexual couples currently cannot be married, civil unions are designed to give them the same rights as married heterosexual couples. This is different from non-married heterosexual couples, who could marry but choose not to. As long as society recognises the distinction between couples, homosexual or heterosexual, who have undertaken a civil or religious union with one another and those that have not, then the Army will make a similar distinction. It would be inappropriate for us to get ahead of society in terms of the recognition of relationships – it is for the government to make the law. We must guard against becoming a social experiment.

d. Medals. There was building frustration at the delay in the arrival of medals for Operations HERRICK and TELIC.

HQ LAND. The frustration over the delay in the issue of medals for OP TELIC is well understood. The most recent update indicates that there is still a backlog of some 11,700 within the new MOD Medals Office (MODMO), which they anticipate being cleared at a rate of 2000 per month.

HQ AG. Changes to the terms of the Op VERITAS medal - changing its name to 'Afghanistan' and including Op HERRICK and other NATO Ops - have yet to be agreed by the Government in the Honours and Decorations Committee. As soon as clearance is given the MoD MO will be able to action submitted medal rolls. The lead is with DS Sec who are working closely with PS12(A).

Medals matter and I share the frustration of soldiers about the time it is taking for some medals to be issued. The decision to change from the Army Medal Office to the new MOD Medal Office was the right one, but the timing was unfortunate because it coincided with a period of particularly high current demand, from Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as high retrospective demand for the Suez Medal. I will visit the new MOD Medal Office shortly to satisfy myself that everything possible is being done to rectify the situation.

8. Gurkha Issues. The Gurkhas were positive and modest in their calls for change. However, it is possible that we are on the cusp of a major change in Gurkha aspirations. The insurgency in Nepal and the new rules on the immigration status of Gurkhas have changed the nature of the aspirations of many. They are now less inclined to leave their children in Nepal for education or to aspire to settle there once their military careers had finished . Indeed the education of their dependants was the most significant factor for the Gurkha community.

HQ AG. AG Gurkha Policy is very aware of the concerns of Gurkhas, particularly their aspirations in respect to education. However, while a wider GTACOS review takes place, called for by SofS, we are not in a position to make decisions on particular issues.

a. General Issues. Gurkhas were pleased with their enhanced immigration opportunities, content with the changes that are being proposed to their TACOS and to their accompanied service regulations (GMAS), but called for the detail behind these changes to be made available quickly - the uncertainty over the detail was the most unsettling factor. There was a call from some soldiers for the long leave periods to be made voluntary as there are significant financial implications for soldiers on Nepal leave.

HQ AG. AG Gurkha Policy understands the ‘uncertainty’ factor prevailing amongst Gurkhas about the details of changes to their TACOS. While the Review is under way, it would be wrong for the Review team to reveal details about the many work strands that will be examining all aspects of their TACOS. The Review is a complex and large piece of work that will have significant repercussions for the Army as well as the Brigade of Gurkhas, and the Governments of UK and Nepal. With regard to long leave, again this is subject to examination by the Review team - in conjunction with all aspects of other leave Gurkhas are entitled to. It is recognised that there needs to be a communications plan for the introduction of any changes to Gurkha TACOS.

b. Brunei Issues. The prospect of a battalion of RGR settling in Brunei forever was not a welcome one and the soldiers and QGOs were not convinced that trickle posting would be effective. Unhappiness was expressed at the rules that meant that Gurkha families had to live in different housing to British soldiers in Brunei and that their children could not attend the same schools as British children there.

HQ LAND. Due to the legacy of different TACOS for Gurkhas, there is currently no official provision for Gurkha secondary school children in Brunei. This is an issue that has been raised by HQ Brunei Garrison through the chain of command and has been highlighted by HQ LAND as an area for consideration by AG Gurkha Pol.

HQ AG. The Estate Development Plan (EDP) is including new builds for the Garrison, recognising that additional SFA will be required with the introduction of Gurkha MAS, which will include improved housing for all Gurkha families in due course. The good news on secondary education for Gurkha children in Brunei is that those who qualify will be able to start at the International School, Jerudong, where British children presently go, in September, in time to start the next school year

We must wait for the Gurkha TACOS Review to be completed and act on its recommendations where appropriate but we should all be aware that major change takes considerable time and resources. However, inequality should only exist where there is good reason and so we have already changed the rules regarding education in Brunei to address the disparities.

9. FAS. The FAS Implementation Plan that was announced in December 2004 was better received than the July 2004 announcements and the disagreements with the concepts driving FAS were minor and sporadic. Indeed there was an amount of positive comment from officers about the theory behind FAS. FIS caused more comment, but the rapid dissemination of the detail behind the plan for individual career management would ameliorate the worst of the fears. There is a common perception that those soldiers in the amalgamating Regiments will bear the brunt of the effects of the drawdown rather than the pain being spread across the Infantry.

Any uncertainty will be dispelled as FAS implementation work progresses. The FIS Implementation Plan is being developed by D Inf, who will write to Infantry COs shortly to explain how the Infantry as a whole will transition to the new structure. Inevitably the amalgamating regiments will see the greatest upheaval, but D Inf is developing plans to ensure that members of these regiments are not disadvantaged against their peers in non-amalgamating regiments.

FAMILIES

10. Families’ issues are covered in detail in Annex D to this report. The major causes of unhappiness varied greatly depending on the location, but a significant source of frustration for families in some areas was the perception that they were suffering bad accommodation simply because of the lack of a timely decision-making process.

SPECIFIC OR LOCALISED ISSUES

12. The following issues, although they were raised by specific groups or appear to be minor in nature, cause a significant amount of frustration:

a. Cyprus Issues. The EHRR role has added an exciting aspect to the otherwise frustrating role of the Infantry units and, in general, Army morale on the Island was high. The lack of clarity in the long-term plan for Cyprus has caused problems in estate planning and the lack of tri-Service direction was a significant factor in the 2 joint units (JSSU and CSSU). The terms of the Treaty of Establishment made the employment of spouses difficult and there was a feeling that some of the employment practices were open to legal challenge. There was frustration amongst junior ranks about the out of bounds restrictions.

HQ AG. With the collapse of Project Aphrodite (Cyprus SFA upgrade programme) in late 2003 the Department is now considering a proposal to spend £20M on SFA in Cyprus by 2009 for mandatory health and safety upgrades. Further investment beyond 2009 will be to upgrade the SFA to ‘standard one for condition’ - kitchens etc.

AG, in his comment, points to a proposal to improve the Cyprus estate, but we will monitor progress.

b. Falkland Islands (FI) Issues. The units and individuals in the FI are largely content. The major frustration comes from the differences in approach to the tour between the 3 Services. The RAF and the RN classify it as an operational tour and give individuals the full benefit of operational status - this is not the case for soldiers. The biggest consequent frustration is that whereas airmen and sailors are entitled to 20 days POTL at the end of a 6-month tour, no such entitlement was being applied to soldiers .

HQ LAND. The LAND Mounting Order (Annex G, Para 19b) is quite explicit that POTL is authorised for those completing tours of one month or more (one working day of POTL for each 9 calendar days served). LAND Cts will ensure, through the chain of command, that units providing soldiers to the Falkland Islands are reminded of this entitlement. It will also be emphasised in posting and attachment orders.

HQ LAND’s comment is clear. ECAB have authorised post FI tour leave and COs are to ensure that soldiers are allowed to take it.

c. External Communications. There was still a significant frustration across all ranks that we appear to let the press set the agenda. This is perhaps unsurprising given the adverse media coverage engendered by the Deepcut-related reports and the Iraq-related Court Martial during the tour. There is a call for more uniformed media comment on major issues.

DPR(A). We are seized with this issue. Notwithstanding an increasingly challenging media landscape driven by the pressures of 24/7 media, total transparency, a dwindling level of respect for institutions generally and a thirst for ‘bad’ news, concerted efforts are being made to deliver positive stories about the Army and, where possible, to challenge inaccurate reporting (the retraction does not get the same profile as the initial story). Changes within the DGMC and the Army’s reinvigoration of the Army Communication Planning Group (ACPG) are delivering progress. A refreshed Army Communication Strategy (ACS) has been endorsed by ECAB and this will be followed shortly by the Army Communication Plan (ACP). This work, although focused on process, is improving and sharpening our media (PR) effort and coherence.

The key is that communicating what is good about the Army and our positive story is ‘whole’ Army business. It is everyone’s business. It is what we do as individuals and as an organisation – our behaviour – that is the story. In conjunction, the Army must be alive to the reality that stories that are good news for the Army do not necessarily sell newspapers, and that the Army must not prejudice the legal process - therefore its ability to comment on ongoing investigations and cases is significantly constrained.


HQ AG. We accept the comment and will spend much more time telling people the facts and what is going on.

I share this frustration. We have reinvigorated our own systems, which should begin to improve matters. However, there are some stories that we cannot comment on for legal reasons and others where our comment is not printed as it will not help to sell papers. That said if we all do our job well, our standing in society will remain high and press coverage will be generally complimentary.

d. Tri-Service Issues. The lack of a tri-Service J1 champion was once again an issue for units and commands alike. Although PJHQ was praised for its efforts on tri-Service discipline on Op TELIC, units in Cyprus and the Falklands were acutely conscious of a lack of commonality and direction in the J1 arena.

HQ LAND. The lack of commonality and direction on tri-Service J1 issues in Cyprus and Falklands is surprising, given that both are PJOBs under command of PJHQ. This is an issue that will be discussed at the next JOPWG.

AG will work on this with DCDS(Pers).

e. Pay As You Dine (PAYD). PAYD was very well received by soldiers in Catterick and Wattisham. There was a concern over the quality and choice of the core menu and a disappointment, in Catterick particularly, that the level of investment by the contractors had not been as significant as they had expected. The Officers' and Sergeants' messes, particularly in Wattisham, were feeling the impact of commercialism on their lifestyle .

HQ LAND. The Catterick trial has been live since Autumn 04. Initially concerns were raised over portion size; the contractor (Sodexho) has addressed this by not controlling the amount of vegetables (including chips) which are served with each meal.

HQ AG. The core menu is pivotal to the provision of food to personnel at an attractive, fixed price. It is also designed to provide Service personnel with catering appropriate to the requirements of their work, i.e. to allow them to remain healthy and maintain a level of fitness to work, train and fight effectively. The Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and Quality Assurance (QA) regime devised by the MOD will be applied to ensure the core menu is maintained at prescribed levels of quality, nutritional value, choice and quantity, and that the partner is sufficiently incentivised to retain his consumer base. The levels of investment by CPs is directly related to commercial viability. During the trials, poorly targeted investment failed to show a return and pricing, merchandising and stock control lessons had to be relearned, and the dynamics of commercial enterprise had to be embraced. Due to this less than auspicious start, the implementation plans for Tranche 2 were adjusted. Whilst largely successful, Tranche 2 sites reflected lower investment levels. It should be noted that high investment attracts high capital charges that will suppress profit and gainshare (local dividend). Although up front investment benefits all, and can be seen as a form of gainshare in terms of facilities, it will affect downstream cash flow. TLBs, who will be responsible for PAYD implementation, will need to satisfy themselves during negotiation that they are achieving the most desirable balance of investment and gainshare, and that any inward investment is visible and will deliver greater benefit to the unit than downstream gainshare.

f. Augmentation Trawls. Once again, all units reported frustration with the system used for operational trawls. The main source of frustration was the short notice given for the majority of trawls for commitments that are, in essence, easily predictable (eg BATUS temporary staff). One suggestion from officers in Field Army units was that trawls should be run from Glasgow so that the pain can be shared amongst the entire pool of available personnel and the trawls targeted at individuals rather than at units.

DGS. DGS is in the process of producing an Army Augmentation Policy paper, for consideration by APRC, which will establish the process by which individuals are selected, trained and deployed to meet operational requirements that cannot be met from within HQ LAND’s resources alone. This paper will articulate the processes required to ensure that gapping in peacetime posts and over-stretch are minimised. The comments made regarding trawls for manpower will be considered in taking that work forward.

HQ LAND. Further study is ongoing into the system for operational trawls, and an increased role for the APC may be an option.

I take the point and soldiers’ comments will inform the plans to change the current systems.

g. Officers’ Education. Whilst many courses received good reviews, particularly JOTAC, the loss of the depth and breadth of the education that came with AJD was sorely missed by Adjutants, Operations Officers and SO3s. MK1 was useful but taking longer than was anticipated. There was a real frustration that MK2, which is only available on electronic media, could not be accessed through the Army's own computers .

HQ LAND/ HQ AG. The increased time taken to complete MK1 for some is acknowledged but the restructuring of testing for MK1 into 'bite-sized' chunks should reduce the overall time required, negating the need for a prolonged revision session at the end of the whole package. The loss of the depth and breadth of the education that came with AJD affects a specific cohort of officers in transition from the demise of the previous JOTES/AJD system to the new ROCC programme of officer career courses, compounded by delay to the introduction of eDW and eMK2. eDW and eMK2 have now been launched, the Battle Group Battle Planning Course (BG BPC) has been running for some time and the new Formation Battle Planning Course, particularly focused at the SO3 level, will start in July this year. DITrg(A) will continue to monitor the output from these courses closely. The comment regarding the provision of IT to support electronic distance learning has been acknowledged. DITrg(A) wrote recently to ensure that the chain of command was aware of the access available for e-learning, its limitations and future plans for the provision of IT (D/DITrg(A)/11300/ 12/17/2 dated 18 Apr 05). Copies of this letter can be obtained from SO2 Officers, DITrg(A) on Telephone: Upavon Military (94344) Extension 5177 or CASH/CHOTS: DITrgSO2Offrs.

h. SNCO’s Issues. As in the last report, every unit’s SNCO feedback session reported, in one form of words or another, that they did not feel valued by the Army. Among other issues they expressed frustration at not being considered for promotion in their final 2 years and the lack of a uniform allowance on promotion. They would also like to have their resettlement, including the relaxed use of the Enhanced Learning Credits (ELC), available earlier. The Team has been working with DAPS in order to provide greater clarity and potential solutions. The immediate pension remains an unbeatable retention tool and in many cases was quoted as the overriding reason for not leaving the Army before the 22-year point.

HQ AG.
Feeling Valued. Following on from the CBT Autumn Report DAPS has been conducting focus groups to investigate the extent to which SNCOs and JNCOs felt under-valued. These focus groups substantiate the assertion in this Spring 2005 Report that SNCOs feel undervalued. It is intended to explore the data gained from the focus groups at the RSM's Convention in Jun 05, and then prepare an action and communication plan to address the concerns of the Sgts’ Mess.
Promotion - Residual Service. DM(A) changed the residual service rules for soldier promotions in Apr 01, although transitional arrangements meant that some MCMs did not implement them fully until more recently. We would resist any change to the new Residual Service rules, which in some cases have only recently been fully implemented. The driver behind the change has been two fold, firstly to provide consistency for soldiers of all Arms and Services, and secondly to fall in line with current residual service rules now in place for officers.


HQ LAND.
NECSt. An element of SNCOs feeling undervalued may result from expectations of longer service (NECSt) not being progressed. Decisions relating to the Versatile Engagement, and implications for staff warrant officers and LE commissions,
should be made soon, even though implementation must await JPA.
ELC. As long as service personnel have registered for the ELC scheme and have 4 years service, they can immediately claim the lower tier rate (£1000 per year for 3 years). From Apr 08 and with 8 years service, they can claim the higher tier rate (£2000 per year for 3 years). Standard Learning Credits (up to £175), which can be utilised more widely than ELCs, are available annually to all service personnel. The Individual Resettlement Training Costs (IRTC) grant, currently £534, is for resettlement-specific activities only, deemed to be within the last 2 years of service. The three allowances have been created to assist service personnel in personal development activity from an early stage in their career, which may be part of a longer-term resettlement strategy. IRTC is targeted specifically at activities that assist the transition to a second career. Comment on the size of the IRTC grant is given against Para 12.k.
Uniform Allowance. The lack of uniform allowance for SNCOs is understandably frustrating. The requirement for officers to wear uniform in the Mess is laid down in Queens Regulations 5.717 but there is no similar requirement for WOs and SNCOs to wear uniform in their Mess. A change to QRs should be made and provision for WOs’ and SNCOs’ Mess Dress should be included in the new uniform arrangements about to be introduced.


Let me be clear. I regard our WOs and SNCOs as the very backbone of the British Army. Hence I am very concerned that SNCOs are feeling undervalued. This issue was raised in the last CGS’s Briefing Team Report, but we now have a clearer idea why this impression has been created. ECAB has considered this issue and has directed AG to lead work to examine what measures can be taken to address it. AG and I will both address the RSMs’ Annual Convention on this issue and seek their views.

i. Budgets. Units complained more on this tour that on any other about the unrealistic budgets that they have been allocated for T&S and, most commonly, stationery. It was not uncommon for soldiers to report that they had had to buy their own paper to photocopy military documents.

j. AGAI 67. The response to the introduction of AGAI 67 has been extremely positive except in tri-Service units where the lack of tri-Service direction caused difficulties.

k. Resettlement. Soldiers, particularly those who were nearing their 22-year point, felt that the £534 that was allocated for resettlement courses was inadequate and should be reviewed . Soldiers who live overseas once again reported that they should be entitled to fly to the UK for resettlement courses.

HQ AG. The IRTC grant of £534 is not an Army policy figure; DResettlement is the lead for Tri-Service Resettlement. DG SP Pol approval was given earlier this year to take forward the proposal that separate IRTC and subsistence allowances were retained but the value of the IRTC was uplifted so that it was more realistic in terms of the training that it could purchase. DResettlement plans to issue an initial paper in May 05. The intention is to then put the paper to the Service Personnel Executive Group (tri-Service policy body) in Aug 05, and, if approved, begin implementation in Apr 07. DResettlement is in the process of raising the issue of flights back to the UK for resettlement with DG SP Pol. There are considerable financial implications and each Service has its own priorities eg. the RN are wary of flights back from some of the distant parts of the globe such as Tierra del Fuego.

n. Perennial Issues. Once again, nearly every unit reported a shortage of computers (particularly laptops) and there was a level of unhappiness expressed because individuals and units reported that they could not take all their leave. There is still a significant level of support for a system which enabled the carrying forward of lost leave to the end of a soldier’s career.

HQ LAND.
Computers. It is recognised that the severe shortage of IT facilities, including laptops, particularly at unit level, remains a major frustration. DII will address this, and some units have already benefited under the DII (Army) initiative, though this does not include any ‘mobile’ terminals such as laptops. Increment 1 of DII (Future) will deliver 20,000 workstations to LAND by Mar 07. This includes 2,000 ‘mobile’ terminals that will begin to address the specific laptop issue.
Leave. Whilst the ability of all ranks to take their full leave entitlement is a clear and well known chain of command issue, it is also being ameliorated in the longer term through more accurate recording and analysis of separated service, adjustment to force structures, better personnel management and through enhancements to pay and conditions being considered by DPS(A).


HQ AG. The carrying forward of lost leave to the end of a soldier’s career is not being pursued. Leave fulfils a specific purpose to recharge batteries and should, accordingly, be robustly planned for and managed in-year. For the first time, CAS (SP8 – administered Dec 04) included detailed questions about the carry over of leave. 40% of officers and 52% of soldiers said they could not carry over leave. 72% of officers said they were fairly, or very, or extremely bothered by this, the majority falling into the ‘fairly’ bothered bracket. The situation is worse for soldiers. Of the 88% who said they were ‘bothered’, the majority were ‘extremely’ so. Further iterations of CAS will be needed before trends can be identified that might inform future consideration of this issue.

POSITIVES

13. The greatest positive is the thirst for real operations. The fact that units have been very busy over the past few years now means that they are used to, and thrive on, a high operational tempo. Those units visited at the end of the tour were uplifted by the publicity given to Private Beharry and his compatriots on the latest operational awards list. Officers are still very positive about their job even though the young officers view it more and more in those terms rather than as a career. Despite their protestations about value, SNCOs continue to be motivated by competitiveness, pride and the expectations of their peers - they and many junior ranks continue to perform to exemplary and sometimes heroic standards.

SUMMARY

14. The morale of the Field Army is relatively high. They can see things changing and, despite the bad headlines in the press, the majority of soldiers are confident that they are doing a worthwhile job in an organisation that makes a difference. That said, they are concerned about the pace of change in infrastructure and they are particularly concerned that we are under-funded as an organisation.

This has been a valuable and interesting report and I am convinced of the value of the Briefing Team process. However, it works best if you think carefully about what you say to the team and I was particularly pleased to see that you are not only pointing out areas of concern but also coming up with ideas about how we can improve matters. I have noted your ideas and will implement them where they stand the test of scrutiny.

NEXT STEPS

15. The Team’s Summer Tour will focus on the TA. Presentations will also be given to, amongst others, the Senior Officers’ Course, the AGM of the Lords Lieutenant, the COs’ Designate Course, 2 RSMs’ conventions, ICSC(L) and all the LEOCs. The team will next report to CGS in November 2005. The team has opened up a CGS’s Briefing Team Forum on ArmyNET so that anyone can provide feedback to the Team without the need for a formal visit. This will ensure that soldiers in isolated units have a chance to have their say.
 
#4
abacus said:
Darth, if the Summer Tour is to focus on the TA, how do the TA get involved?
Good question..they must be rocking up at weekends and drill nights. The other option is to do as it says at the bottom of the report - post it on Armynet. Looks like the lads are already filling their boots and posting stuff on there (Feedback to the Army Board section). The only downside is that by posting an issue you won't necessarily get a reply. I can see where they are coming from on this one as it will water down the report. Progress at least.
 

OldSnowy

LE
Moderator
Book Reviewer
#5
Visiting the TA? It does say how they intend to do that -

"Presentations will also be given to, amongst others, the Senior Officers’ Course, the AGM of the Lords Lieutenant, the COs’ Designate Course, 2 RSMs’ conventions, ICSC(L) and all the LEOCs"

Of these, I have no idea what the LEOC's is (If they mean LE OC's, there's certainly no such thing as a meeting for us - far too risky!)

Missing from the list? Any bloody TA Soldiers or Units!

Most COs and almost all RSMs are Regularl; and the Lord Lts and ICSC will either not know what is going on (the first bunch) or be afraid to say anything that will impede their rise to Lt Col (the second).

I do, do hope that they actually arrange to visit some TA soldiery. Trouble is, it will mean them working at Weekends :)
 
#6
OldSnowy said:
Visiting the TA? It does say how they intend to do that -

"Presentations will also be given to, amongst others, the Senior Officers’ Course, the AGM of the Lords Lieutenant, the COs’ Designate Course, 2 RSMs’ conventions, ICSC(L) and all the LEOCs"

Of these, I have no idea what the LEOC's is (If they mean LE OC's, there's certainly no such thing as a meeting for us - far too risky!)

Missing from the list? Any bloody TA Soldiers or Units!

Most COs and almost all RSMs are Regularl; and the Lord Lts and ICSC will either not know what is going on (the first bunch) or be afraid to say anything that will impede their rise to Lt Col (the second).

I do, do hope that they actually arrange to visit some TA soldiery. Trouble is, it will mean them working at Weekends :)
Maybe this is why they are keen that the boys use Armynet to post their views remotely - not ideal but hey it works on here - why not on there?!
 
#7
The 'LEOC' is the LE Commissioning Course at RMAS - soon to be run by a jolly good chum of mine.

It seems that most of the TA capture will be done on operations (clearly lots there - but that's another story - look out in 2 months time), at annual camps and on dedicated TA courses at the various Schools and Centres.

Not a perfect solution, but we need their input as well - they're just as much a part of our fighting capability after all! :D
 

OldSnowy

LE
Moderator
Book Reviewer
#8
We'd be glad to see them at Annual Camps, and whenever. My gripe is that there is no mention anywhere of meeting any TA Soldiers. They will have to come to Units to find out what people really think - meet them on their home turf, where they will frrl they can speak freely.
 
#9
Amazing that the points are raised "in the right way" to CGS and presented such that he can answer without commitment.

To the conspiracy theorists out there, is it not strange that loss of Regiments and amalgamations is not even mentioned let alone a major issue to all - well the Infantry anyway?
 
#10
Baghdad-Brit said:
...is it not strange that loss of Regiments and amalgamations is not even mentioned let alone a major issue to all...
Perhaps it wasn't an issue? The Team go to great lengths to include anything of interest, even if that issue is only of interest to a 'sizeable minority'. Can you imagine what PoD would do to one of his staff officers who failed to brief him in a timely fashion about something! Stand by, stand by...

I'm not saying that the amalgamations weren't emotive and distressing for some, merely that it didn't impact as widely as perhaps you may believe, and that the net effect on the Army and our capability (which is what the Report is really about after all) wasn't as great as some may think.

I'm more than ready to be convinced otherwise! :D
 
#11
OldSnowy said:
Visiting the TA? It does say how they intend to do that -

"Presentations will also be given to, amongst others, the Senior Officers’ Course, the AGM of the Lords Lieutenant, the COs’ Designate Course, 2 RSMs’ conventions, ICSC(L) and all the LEOCs"

Of these, I have no idea what the LEOC's is (If they mean LE OC's, there's certainly no such thing as a meeting for us - far too risky!)

Missing from the list? Any bloody TA Soldiers or Units!

Most COs and almost all RSMs are Regularl; and the Lord Lts and ICSC will either not know what is going on (the first bunch) or be afraid to say anything that will impede their rise to Lt Col (the second).

I do, do hope that they actually arrange to visit some TA soldiery. Trouble is, it will mean them working at Weekends :)
I strongly agree about getting the unfiltered views of TA soldiers.

Re Lords Lieutenant, they have an influential role in the RFCAs and I am delighted if they are getting these briefings.


Absolutely fascinating report, thanks to Darth. I would be very interested to see the Families annex.
 

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