REME VM- Repair from basic principles

It seems to be the growing REME culture that in order to repair a piece of equipment you need to have passed through the relevant equipment course at Bordon.

What has happened to repairing kit using the basic principles taught on our trade courses?

I can remember as a young Class 3 VM being handed a job and being allowed to get on with it under the watchful eye of my section Cpl. After 6 months of working on the kit I was awarded a spec qual. Why do we no longer do this?

I understand that now and again there is a need for training on specific test equipments such as on DROPS and MAN SV but generally speaking most vehicles are fundamentally the same.

Is the reason for the increased need for equipment courses spawned by the fact that we no longer deliver sufficient training at class 3, 2 and 1 levels in order to provide the basic building blocks of engineering and allow the tradesmen to think outside the box? Should this not be our main focus as an engineering corps, I would suggest yes as I believe with the correct foundations a tradesman could repair anything.

Another issue which would further compound the problem is phasing out our trade specific Tiffies. Tiffy unspec??? Surely part of a tiffies job spec, (first paragraph of Corps instruction E5), is to fill gaps in knowledge of their troops?

A sound artisan would able to assist in this a great deal, however up to recently where has he received his training, equipment courses? I would argue not.

I won’t bleat on anymore, please comment.


Not being in yet, this is just me making some blind assumptions so feel free to rip this apart, but could it be in this society where blame has to be firmly placed and law suits followed through, that the MOD are just covering arrses?
If you've not been trained on it, don't do it, so when it fcuks up, it aint your fault?
I'd assume that many of the guys with a solid understanding of the fundamentals would be able to learn and teach themselves how to do a fair bit, they just can't/won't to stay outta trouble.
There is only one way to learn...... and thats the hard way!

since when does an equipment course make you good at what you do?... It takes practice to make you a good mechanic (fitter!), not daft qualifications!

I went from working on this

To working on / building This with practically no training.

All the principals are the same.... its just a different shape!
This has come around because we no longer teach our soldiers to repair by repair...we now repair by replacement. On T8, I surprised one of my Lance Jack VMs when I repaired a battery terminal with solder using a spare battery lead clamp that was hiding in the corner of my toolbox as a mould/forming guide.

He was going to low loader the vehicle back to A2 then renew the battery..feck that, fix it, drive it back then fit a new battery when the repair fails. (It hadn't failed a year later when I dekitted :) ).

I have taken on new staff at work now, (overhauling trains) and despite them being switched on engineers, they are not allowed to sign off any jobs that require torque tightening as they have not yet passed our company competency assesment..ffs
Hate to break it to you but this is everywhere....

I've been in a company where the designer of a piece of equipment wasn't allowed to operate it when installed on the vehicle because - 'He hadn't passed the operators course' - the fact that he had designed the kit and written the course didn't matter, he still needed to sit through 6 hours of his own course to qualify to operate the kit.!!!

Welcome to the wonderful world where 'engineer' is a rude word and 'qualified' means how many bits of paper do you have.

I appreciate the legislation that is there in order to protect individuals from harm etc, but surely the fitter section Tiffy can monitor an individual’s progression. Control measures such as stage inspections by class ones and jobs only being signed off by them on completion should be suffice.

Also what about the OC LAD's responsibility as a Eng O, surely it ultimately falls to him via the advice given by the Tiffy and ASM to "sign off" soldiers as competent? What engineering responsibilities do they currently have, I thought we were an engineering corps. Surely it comes within his remit to make a decision as to whether his troops are deemed competent?
We have been in the same situation regarding our new .338 rifles, we first enquired if there were courses starting soon so we could become "qualified" on them. No courses so a quick call to IPT and we are just following the inspection standards in the AESP using our previous knowledge from the L96. Well we will be doing, when I can be bothered actually inspecting them. :)
findlay said:
It seems to be the growing REME culture that in order to repair a piece of equipment you need to have passed through the relevant equipment course at Bordon.

What has happened to repairing kit using the basic principles taught on our trade courses?

I can remember as a young Class 3 VM being handed a job and being allowed to get on with it under the watchful eye of my section Cpl. After 6 months of working on the kit I was awarded a spec qual. Why do we no longer do this?

Your points are all good, in this post and subsequent ones. Heres my views/comments towards them. Oh and yes I'm a bitter and twisted Artisan Ssgt VMA with eleven pay statements to go. So now you can form an opinion on what to expect, I'll try and not disapoint anyone.

The Section Cpls of today are not what they used to be in your/my day. Those I'm refering to will of course scream in outrage but I'll say it any way.

IMOHO our Cpls today are not as technically savvy, have as good a basic grounding in electro/mechanical engineering nor are they as robust with common sense and practicality. They are not particularly interested in mentoring or monitering our craftsmen these days. In all fairness that is not their fault either.

These days we are too busy and have had a history of being undermanned in several key trades. Also the basic training new craftsmen we recieve is lacking (a product of cost cutting, civvi managed training). Which leads to the downward spiral of proficiency of the Corps as a whole. Its tempting to say all the new generation of Cfn's are crap but there are a few that are good. The problem is the word FEW. In the good old days, you could fail exams at Bordon and be moved onto something more suitable, driver or REME clerk or revert to being a civvi again. These days too many fail, fail again and keep failing but still pass courses. People who clearly do not have the aptitude for the line of work expected are now pushed onto field units. All in the name of filling manning levels.

So field units find themselves with young men and women with no aptitude for their work type let alone basic proficiency. Given the good odds of these young people finding themselves on a Op tour fairly quickly, the time we used to have in the old days of bringing them on has evaporated.

Now quite a few of those young people have been promoted and are now in the position of supposedly bringing on the newer boys and girls. How? when they never got the training/time to allow them to be as good as our old Cpls did (The days of BAOR etc, grumpy buggers who beat the knowledge and level of competence expected into you). I'm not exaggerating when I say that in recent years I have seen too many Cfns promoted within a couple of years and no one in the unit could understand how or why. The individuals were at best incompetant or worse totally fuc@ing useless, nice people though. Worse still, a fair few of these people are now tiffies themselves. So that throws out your fitter section Tiffy can monitor an individual’s progression. Control measures such as stage inspections by class ones and jobs only being signed off by them on completion should be suffice.

When your quality level has dropped across a broad rank range, is it a suprise that our abilities as a whole have decreased.

The days of a tradesmans introduction to new equipments being a jobcard and having the EMER/AESP library pointing out to them are gone I'm afraid.

Equipment courses are here to stay but then again we did have equipment courses in our day as well. The equipment then was fairly basic as well. Today things have moved on a fair way and no two manufacturers build things the same. In our day working knowledge of a couple of types of carbs and ignition systems were sufficient. Now its all state of the art and a degree in computers helps, or at least a course in which buttons to press on the different diagnotic kits will do. Of course the umbrella factor has a fair bit to do with the way we approach things now does not help.

Oh and the OC's and Eng O comment, hang on a bit I'm old and picking myself of the floor while wiping the tears of laughter out of my eyes might take a while.

Still as I said earlier it's all IMOHO and I have only 11 months left to suffer.
M_M, I thought the comment about the Eng O might provoke a response, your giggles are justified. I was beginning to wonder that due to the lack of response no one cared about the direction our Corps is going.

You made a comment on Cfn being promoted early even though they did not show any aptitude for the trade in which they were trained. On that note here is some radical thinking.

I agree this does happen but it is not the fault of the soldier but rather the way in which we report on them.

I believe that in the early part of their career, prior to class one training our tradesmen should only be reported on and graded with the emphasis being on their trade ability. I believe by doing this we could change the way in which our junior tradesmen think and give them a clear message that if you are a poor tradesmen, you won't promote quickly, thus instilling a willingness to learn their trade.

To be honest in order to promote to LCpl most Cfn only have to have adequate trade ability. When writing SJARs too much emphasis is placed on the other activities they have done outside their trade such as organising a function or playing sport. I admit that in order to bring about this change then there has to be a change to the information contained in an SJAR, which won’t be easy to change. We all know how hard it is to write a report on the guy who is a brilliant tradesmen but doesn't do a lot else.

If I was to be perfectly honest I don’t really care how good a craftsman is at playing football or organising activities, this is nif naf and trivia, but I do care about his ability to add value to a fitter section or repair platoon. The only way he can add true value from an engineering perspective is to have aptitude at his trade. A minimum level of aptitude can be developed at the early stages of an individuals career, after he is class one it’s a lost cause. If we are promoting based on the fact a REME soldier can organise a function then this haemorrhaging of poor tradesmen will continue and ultimately destroy the reputation of our Corps.

Before I finish, I do not want to open the soldiers first tradesmen second debate. That has been well and truly hammered and is not the point of this post. We must always consider their soldiering ability in order to deem them competent to protect themselves while on operations. This too must be emphasised in SJAR but all the other “Nif Naf” I alluded to earlier, lets not consider that until post class one when we should be looking for more rounded individuals.
Going back a few years now but the Cr requirements your alluding to used to be a fixture for Cfn's. You did not get a Cr until you proved capable as a tradesman. You just got a report, which was not seen by the board. Can't remember the Army form number. The tiffies would not even look at you for promotion until you were recommended for personal review by him, from your section Sgt. Then you were scrutinised for a few months, usualy ended up the Tiffy bus driver. If the Tiff then thought you capable he wrote a Cr. I also recall the words of wisdom from both my Sect Sgt and Cpl. Concentrate on being good at your job first. The rest of the crap you can do once you have got your first stripe.

Which to my way of thinking should still be the way. Not the "Your trade abilities only count for 1/4 of your Cr so ensure you have something for your OC to put in the other 3/4".

Three years from trade training was considered a normal time frame to be considered for promotion. As you put, too many get a Cr written and due to 3/4 of it being about what a top cricket player and a future Corp footie star a chap is. We end up with a numpty who could not change a wheel competently let alone diagnose and repair an intermitant gear change on a CV8.

Or the best one I've seen yet. A young Cfn who was incapable of maintaining his own toolbox. On an op tour he had no tools in the thing. His confidence levels were shockingly poor and his trade skills so poor it was tempting to recommend he was sent back to Bordon to re do his basic trade quals again. He came to us on posting so had done two years from trade. The Cfn to Lcpl board results came out not long after he arrived and he picked up. Along with several other useless mongs. Our chain of command actualy tried to delve into who, how and why a CR was written on this plonker. No results from M@R other than the board were satisfied the soldier had made the quality line so the promotion stood.

I always thought the Co could defer a promotion if he felt the soldier did not deserve it. I guess it was too much effort to deny the useless git the promotion.

Sucks don't it.
M_M excellent posts, totally agree with your sentiments.

Cfn IIRC were not meant to get a CR for 3 yrs after getting to a unit unless:

1. they were extremely good and warrented a CR to put them on the board or;
2. They had been on an Op Tour

This was the case when i was a Cfn anyways (93 ish)

Section Cpl's not being what they were, again totally agree.... but what system tell me now, has a guy coming off his Class 1 course as a full Cpl???

You need at least 1-2 yrs as a Class 1 Lance Jack to get some experience under your belt... straight to Cpl after class 1 is something that the vast majority do not have the experience or skill to pull off properly.

(All spoke from a VM's Point Of View tho)
"These days too many fail, fail again and keep failing but still pass courses. People who clearly do not have the aptitude for the line of work expected are now pushed onto field units. All in the name of filling manning levels."
Quote from M-M
they do it with tiffys so why not with craftys???
Ah, I did not want to venture into the tiffy debate but as you raised the point.... We cannot afford for our Cfn's to start of at a low level, or else we will end up with tiffies who are even less capable of carrying out their role than they are now (oh listen to all those sharp intakes of breath and prepares for a volley of girly tiffy squeals).

Maybe someone high up has already twigged to this. Hence the supposed change to future tiffy courses. Not so much non trade specific. More a realisation they could not bluff there way in trade anyway so why not dump the trade skill part. Going back a few years, yes a tiffy could actualy hold his own within his trade. Also he could fulfil the job spec. I'm sure it used to say " An artificer will conduct all class one inspections" in their job specs. Now? Yeah whatever.

Still enough on tiffy bashing, back to repair from basic. Whos to blame for the demise in basic skill levels now? Blame Bordon and the blinkered follow the party line command element, says standards have not dropped and actualy they are higher now than ever. Must be true as all the new bods get a shedfull of quals when they leave. Allowing a civvi company who gets paid per head rather than quality of training, that was a top idea.

So, if the above is not the reason do we blame the generation now for being less than we were? I dont think so. Its still the same raw material, just the way we train and approach training these days has changed.

Now heres a reaction causing comment to try if you have the balls. Next time the DEME(A) or someone of his ilk drops by and tries to engage a debate. Ready?

Have our standards and expectations dropped since we allowed females into the trade groups? Is there a correlation to the qualities and basic abilities of tradesmen dropping to the time females entered the Corp?

An uncomfortable pair of questions in these days of enlightenment and equality for sexes.

If that one gets quickly shot down and answered as being ridiculous, try:

Have the perceived standards and quality levels of training, dropped since moving away from former teaching practacises at Bordon to what we have now? Why does the field force up to regimental level feel their is a shortfall in the standards and abilities of tradesmen leaving training yet higher levels refuse to accept there are problems?

Either set of questions will probably get ripped into and rapidly dropped if you try them. I know but it was fun watching the reactions of those I dropped them on.

ArmySurplusSpecial Brought a good point out. Young tradesmen coming straight of their class one courses promoted to Cpl. It also happened way back in the late 80's and early 90's but was very rare and that person was usualy something special (usualy they had trade quals before joining the army, served an apprentaship in civvi street etc).

Now its all to common to see them coming out of the factory with two stripes, some actualy get in there with two stripes to begin with.

The argument is, how the hell are they going to be any use as a section Cpl. They need the seasoning of a year or two at least to gain the experience and confidence to be a decent Cpl.

So are we promoting too early? Probably but if we dont then how do we keep anyone in the Corps. The advantages of trade pay were blown thanks to paycut 2000. Promotion in other Corps or regiments can be far quicker for someone with half a brain. Especialy if they start twigging the trade quals are fairly useless in civvi street.

Have we created a vicious downward spiral that may eventually spell the end of the Corp? I personally feel we have and if its not recognised and reacted to we are fuc@ed. Well those of you still serving will be anyway.

Whistles away as he awaits on the the chain yanking comments to be condemned, refuted and denied. :muhaha:
I thought M_M was going OK until that last post. Some fairly reasoned arguments but it has all come crashing down with the rolling out of the old chestnuts of Females in the Corps (note: The singular of Corps is Corps) and Tiffys.
I agree with the main part of your argument that standards have dropped and that we promote too early, however there is no requirement to drag females and Tiffys into your opinions.
This is for 2 reasons:
1. Females were enabled to join REME after the standards had started to drop.
2. Tiffys have always been derided by those who didn't make it or chose not to make it.

I am now in a fortunate position to be in a sister Corps that doesn't have Artisans, everyone above Sgt is considered an Artificer as thay all do the same course. I can report with confidence that the world has not fallen off it's axis. This leads me to the conclusion that we don't really need 2 streams in REME, get rid of Artisans and be done with it, if you want to be a SSgt or WO, do the course and crack on. This also means doing away with tiffy selection, tiffy training weekends and all that other crap we had to go through.


Don't want to jump on the "I agree with ...." band wagon but I agree with :D Nige. Some very good points made until the girlies & tiffies bit was thrown in the pot.

Nige makes a very good point on the training of our more senior tradesmen. I've said to many a person over the last 15 years including at least one DEME(A) - that after the Class 1 VM course all tradesmen should have the same opportunity to attend various levels of military based engineering management & leadership training which must be attended and passed within a specific time frame. (Money used to fund this could come from completely cutting the artificer course).

Before being promoted to the next rank the board should have access to their course report to base their potential for promotion alongside their SJARS and against their peer group.
I got posted to a unit as a lance jack and left as a full screw. While I was there, one of my craftys picked up and was posted. 2 years later he arrived at my unit as a full screw...was surprised to say the least.

I arrived at my first unit in December 91 and had my first CR in 1994 following an NI tour attached to the battery as a grunt. I hit my second unit in September 1994, went on my class 1 course in 1996, finished it in March 1997 and returned to my unit as a class 1 Crafty! I picked up my lance jack 3 months later. then took 4 years to full screw and another 4 years to stripey. I was never interested in the Tiffy route and refuse to bash those who each their own :) I did pride myself on being a bloody good tradesman and enjoyed mentoring junior tradesmen.....what point is there in accumulating knowledge if you don't pass it on?

Thanks for your input; I'm glad I'm not the only person in our corps who recognises that we are in danger of messing it up if we continue to cascade in the direction in which we are currently moving.

Hopefully some of our "friends" at DEME (A) who profess to monitor this site will take away some of the very valid points raised within this string. An article in the Craftsman mag explaining their view could do the trick.

My final note, I joined to be an engineer and I am still after 17 and a half years quite proud to be REME. I feel if we continue to allow our standards to drop we can no longer justify the “engineer” piece of our name making it far more likely we could be easily absorbed into another “really large” corps. I don’t want that to happen.

Returning to the thread I'm disappointed at the few reactions my last post made. Still the few that were posted went fairly much as I'd expected.

Very nice Nige, well done on pointing out the odd grammer/spelling mistake for me, so important to do so to highlight your superior knowledge. Helps to enhance your point of view in your reactionary statements decrying my points.

Still as your reaction was similar to that of a senior officer I threw my points at, obvioulsy your special. Also well done to Escotia for sort of jumping on the band wagon.

Strange how you both jumped on the girly/tiffy points but failed to take on the basic standards dropping at Bordon point. Also neither of you looked then to give your opinions on where and when the standards dropped or why. Oh and you only jumped in to respond to the hooks like the good worms you are (was one of my nastier thoughts). That could just have been providence and maybe I sidelined your valuble input to the reason for the original post.

Why do I say reactionary statements?

Was it that you inferred from my statement that females in the Corp/s (whatever Nige) are to blame for the assumed lack of basic skills? Maybe you felt the neccesity of defending females in the Corps or Army as a whole, as it's the right thing to do and anyone who tries to knock females in our armed forces is a Kn@b. Yes/no, maybe.

Why is it when someone mentions females in the army in a possible negative view, they will automaticaly be jumped over. Quite often without stopping to debate if the statements have value? Ok, yes probably as most are not worth debating as they are from poorly thought out and ill informed "Females and the Army dont go" die hards.

Read the sentence again and point out where females in the Corps are having the finger of blame directly pointed at them. Try to do so without the blinkers. Hopefully you will read into the statement more than the obvious hook.

Nige you stated that females joined after standards started to drop. I simply do not agree at all with that. Have you an actual date you think standards dropped?

Firstly though I'll give my opinion about females in the Army and in the Corps. There are as many good ones and bad ones as there are with males. Most of whom are more than capable of defending their rights and abilities to be in the Armed forces and don't need anyone to jump on the bandwagon for them. I know as I'm married to a serving female soldier and she reads my posts. So tickets for the outrage bus are not a requirement unless your a female or you have direct response and an informed opinion from a female serving in the Armed forces.

With my statement I am pointing out the time frame as I see it, the fall in standards and not just that of basic trade skills occured right about the period females became a bigger part of military life. With the inclusion of female soldiers I feel that training standards and the manner we conducted ourselves were "adjusted".

Now that statement has caused a few arguments at home. In my better halfs defence her argument is "If standards were adjusted then it was not because female soldiers asked nor expected them to be".

Still, I remember the army as it was before females became more entwined with it. She only knows the Army as she has seen it since joining ten years ago. I blame ATRA and those others that have driven army training, standards and values since around the early 90's, for the decline in standards in both basic trade training and basic military training. I blame the government for failing to maintain our forces at a realistic manning level for our commitments. I also blame them for not ensuring our wages for junior soldiers is sufficient. Therefore forcing the armed forces to accept early promotion as a means of retention.

Going back to the better half.
She has been a phase two instructor in recent years. She was considered to be old fashioned in her approach to training (I may well have been influential about that). Her manner and attitude to recruits was seen as too harsh. She viewed her recruits as moraly and phyisacaly weak. Male and female. Even she admits the rules pushed out from ATRA tied her hands on how training and standards were administered.

By the way Nige, the post was about repair from basic principles. So inclusion of Tiffies into the subject is fair. Far too many forget the basics once the cassete has been inserted. Also I'll point out I did say Tiffies used to be able to fulfil their job specs. These days I've covered for far to many Tiffies who no longer manage to do that.

I'm all for one stream in the Corps as you and Escotia mentioned, drop artisan or Tiffy. I don't care but it's always been my opinion that having two streams within a trade was self defeating. There are Tiffies who could outdo an Artisan in trade skills and (actualy noted by former DEME(A) I'm given to understand) Artisans who could more than manage a fitter section or even an LAD at WO1 level.

Its strange how a large part of the army uses the SMC and EFP as their only tool for management training. A tiffy by vertue of doing the courses will have the tools provided to enable him/her to do their job. A decent Artisan has the same tools learnt over time but still has the capability, all be it with a difference in time scale.

So I agree with you, dump tiffy selection and the tiffy course. Assess our future requirements and promote those you need to fill the management level jobs. Based on trade and management abilities. Just make sure they can't pass by cheating.

I hope Findlay is right and someone from the offices of DEME(A) watches ARRSE and the points, arguments and such.

Being a grumpy failed the board Artisan I'm more than happy to put my points across in a debate in person. I'd happily sit down with elements from DEME(A) and ATRA and from the schools to discuss where the standards are at and identify if my arguments have value. Or find out why my perception is that basic skills appear to be less evident these days.

I am not prepared to sit and be told that standards are just the same and the training value is just as good as it was 20 years ago though. If they were then posts such as these would not occur. So if anyone up at Arbourfield at DEME(A)'s office wants to open up a debate and invite me, feel free to PM me.
M_M, Maybe you should reread my post, you will find that I said you had some fairly reasoned arguements. The parts I disagreed with were the ones I mentioned - Chicks and Tiffys.
I didn't see a need to comment on the parts I agreed with.
With regard to when the standards started dropping, I would say once the decision was made to 'privatise' SEME, standards had to drop, otherwise VT could not afford to pay the instructors what they deserved. I would say between 1987 to 1992 is when standards started to drop. This is based on personal experience, so it may be wrong. In 1987, we had 4 people fail my basic metalsmith course because they were not to standard. When I returned in 1992 for my class 1 course, people were starting to pass after many resits, it used to be that you had 2 goes (I think, maybe 3) then you were out.

The question you posed regarding females implied that females into REME and a drop in standards were linked. I simply replied to that implication. It is worth noting of course that we had females in trades before they became REME, there were female Artificers and VMs in the WRAC before 1991.

Same detail with the Tiffy thing, you implied that Tiffys are useless and unable to continue training tradesmen, I simply stated that this is an old, old arguement that doesn't stand up to scrutiny. Sure there are some crap Tiffys, thare are also crap Crafties, NCOs, Artisans, Techs and Officers. Theer are also some bloody good ones (of each group mentioned) who keep the reputation of the Corps going. Let's not lose the credibility of your arguements by relying on crap statements.

I will leave any spelling mistakes for others this time as it seemed to upset your sensibilities a bit... :)


MM, the quote below is what I said (again Nige beat me to a reply)

"Don't want to jump on the "I agree with ...." band wagon but I agree with Nige. Some very good points made until the girlies & tiffies bit was thrown in the pot."

You deflected people away from some very good points in your original post be flagging up two issues which either get people jumping on the (untrue) all tiffys & all girlies are crap bandwagon or just turn them off your post because they assume you are fishing for all tiffies and girlies are crap comments.

I'll say it again "some very good points ..............."

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